Ex-UA aide leaves for NBDL to become coach
Reggie Geary found himself in a Catch-22 situation.
To get a coaching job, he needed coaching experience.
And, realistically, that might not have come soon while at the University of Arizona, although he was on one of the top coaching staffs in the nation as the recruiting and basketball operations coordinator.
So after UA’s season ended in March, and with head coach Lute Olson’s blessing, he looked into getting coaching jobs.
He was up for a couple at the college level but didn’t get them, but he eventually was hired officially this week as an assistant coach by the Anaheim Arsenal of the National Basketball Developmental League. Geary grew up in southern California in Santa Ana.
“There was a logjam, no doubt about it,” Geary said Monday of the coaching situation at UA. “Being around coach was fantastic because he has so much knowledge and he does a good job in what he does. But it was a logjam. I didn’t want to wait for someone else’s timetable.”
Jim Rosborough has long been Olson’s right-hand man, becoming an associate head coach after UA won the national title in 1997. Former player Josh Pastner has been an assistant coach for seven years and former UA player Miles Simon has been an assistant for a season.
But Geary, 32, hired last year, didn’t have any coaching duties in his UA job.
“It was definitely difficult,” he said of not being able to coach. “That’s what I want to do. I wanted to do it at the University of Arizona because it was a dream-type job for me.
“To see other guys go out recruiting and doing things I think would have been fun and something I would have enjoyed doing, yes, it was difficult. But, it also afforded me a year to step back and see how things are done. It gave me an idea of what it takes to be successful and what makes Coach successful.”
Olson said he understands Geary’s desire to coach.
“We hate to lose Reggie,” Olson said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him, and I know he will bring a lot to the franchise based on his extensive playing experience in the NBA and overseas.”
That’s what may help Geary, who will as an assistant under 23-year NBA veteran Larry Smith and the team’s director of basketball operations.
“You get that respect that you’ve done it,” Geary said. “You know what they are going through because you’ve done it and have been successful in some regard. It’s big for me that I have that.”
Already, he’s been busy working on the team’s future, which begins in November.
“It’s funny because I’m doing a lot of recruiting, things that Josh does,” he said. “It’s all about trying to get the best players.”
And so, his life as a coach begins.
What: New basketball team in the NBA Developmental League
Head coach: Larry Smith. The former NBA player (Golden State, Houston, San Antonio) was an assistant coach for Houston for 11 seasons, helping the Rockets win back-to-back titles.
Assistant coach: Reggie Geary, former UA player 1992-96
Team affiliations: Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers
Season opener: Nov. 24 vs. Los Angeles D-Fenders
Other D-League teams: Albuquerque T-Birds, Arkansas Rimrockers, Austin Toros, Fort Worth Flyers, Tulsa 66ers, Bakersfield Jam, Colorado 14ers, Idaho Stampede, Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce