Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Josh Pastner to Memphis; Blair to the NBA; UCF Lands Recruits
DETROIT – After trying and failing to land several bigger-name coaches, Memphis chose a member of its own staff to be its new head coach.
Josh Pastner, an assistant to former Memphis coach John Calipari, will be introduced as the Tigers new coach at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
It remains unclear what Pastner will be paid, but the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported that he earned a base salary of $200,000 last season as an assistant.
After Calipari accepted an eight-year, $32 million deal at Kentucky, Memphis reached out to a number of other candidates, reportedly including Tim Floyd, Mike Anderson, Reggie Theus, Avery Johnson, Sean Miller and Leonard Hamilton.
Pastner has no head coaching experience. He was a walk-on on Arizona’s 1997 national championship team and then spent six years as an assistant under Lute Olson with the Wildcats. He came to Memphis last summer and spent a year under Calipari.
In his one year in Memphis, Pastner helped lead the Tigers to a 33-4 overall record, a sweep of the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles and an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.
He is a tremendousrecruiter who helped bring in a stacked Memphis class that included Xavier Henry, Will Coleman, Darnell Dodson and DeMarcus Cousins.
It remains to be seen how many of these players will remain. The 6-foot-6 Henry has expressed a desire to go to Kansas, but his older brother, C.J., is a walk-on at Memphis and would have to sit another year if he transferred.
The 6-10 Cousins is the only unsigned member of the class and is considering Kentucky, Alabama, Memphis, Kansas State, N.C. State and Washington.
BLAIR TO THE NBADeJuan Blair will enter the NBA Draft after his sophomore season, CBSSports.com reported.
Blair, the Big East Co-Player of the year and a first-team All-America selection, averaged 15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds for the Panthers, who lost to Villanova in the Elite 8 in Boston.
Blair told me at the Big East Tournament in March that his goal was to play in the NBA.
“Of course,” he said. “Of course that’s my goal, to play in the NBA and hopefully one day that will happen. I’m just going to keep playing in college as long as possible.”
Pitt will also lose seniors Sam Young and Levance Fields, leaving a major rebuilding project for head coach Jamie Dixon.UCF PICKS UP TWO COMMITSCentral Florida picked up commitments from Marcus Jordan and Nik Garcia of Chicago Whitney Young on Monday.
Jordan is a 6-2, 180-pound shooting guard who is the son of newly minted Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Garcia is a 6-5 SG ranked No. 34 at his position by Rivals.
“They were interested in both of us,” Garcia told the Chicago Sun Times. “We’re really good friends. It was the right fit at the right time. This makes it all better.”
Garcia chose Central Florida over Nebraska, Providence and Rhode Island and Jordan picked UCF over Stanford and Iowa, according to the Sun Times.
Former Whitney Young guard AJ Rompza played for UCF last season and was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team.
UCF has one scholarship to give and is still courting Sherrod Wright of Mount Vernon (N.Y.). He is slated to make an official visit beginning Friday.
The 6-4 Wright previously visited George Mason officially and was uncertain whether he would take any additional visits.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.