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On-the-job training reinforces Fraser’s coaching dreams

NOTE: Along the way column

I can’t imagine an apprenticeship ever served more happily than that of Bruce Fraser.

The former University of Arizona basketball player wants to coach, and his fascinating résumé now includes training periods under three of the brightest minds in the country:

Lute Olson, Larry Brown and Steven Spielberg. Yes, that Spielberg.

Bruce played three years, then helped coach for three more under Olson at UA.

He was a reserve point guard for the Wildcats from 1985-87, then was a graduate assistant under Lute from 1987-89.

Unable to find a full-time opening as a coach, Fraser did what a lot of southern California kids have done – he found a job in Hollywood.

He wound up working in sound and music for about 100 pictures, among them Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.’

The best of the rest included “Sleeping With The Enemy’ and “Home Alone.’

But Fraser’s passion to coach never cooled, and a chance meeting with Brown led to his appointment this past season as an assistant on the staff of the Indiana Pacers.

Longtime Wildcat fans may have noticed that Bruce got a lot of camera time during Indiana’s playoff series against the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic.

“Working with the Pacers has been a great experience,’ Fraser said in a telephone call from Indianapolis. “It convinced me that coaching is what I really want to do.’

Bruce will return to Tucson next month to direct the Sean Elliott Basketball Camp. The two, one-week camps will be held July 10-14 and July 17-21 at Cholla High School.

“I thought I knew it all, but I learned a ton this year,’ Fraser said of his exposure to the NBA. “The best part was, I realized how much I want to get back into basketball.

“I met Larry when he was coaching San Antonio. I was there visiting Sean and he introduced us.’

Fraser was officially a volunteer coach for the Pacers, although he was paid for his services.

“I might be back next year. It depends on what happens,’ he said. “I am looking, though.’

It’s no wonder he wants to coach. His father, Bill Fraser, coached at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., for nearly 20 years.

Bill replaced Olson as head coach at Long Beach City College when Lute replaced Jerry Tarkanian as head coach at Long Beach State.

Bruce played for his dad at LBCC for a year and then transferred to Arizona in 1985.

Perhaps the best advice ever given to a student of anything was, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Somebody obviously passed this along to Fraser, because during his six years at Arizona he asked so many questions, his nickname was “Q.’

His sabbatical in Hollywood was fun but not quite like basketball.

“I missed being around the game,’ Fraser said.

“I stayed as close as I could, watching on TV or going to a game when there was time. But I missed the locker room, the practice, the preparation, everything that coaching entails.

“It’s what I want to do, and there’s no doubt in my mind now.’

Fraser, who earned a Final Four ring at Arizona as a graduate assistant coach in 1988, nearly got a NBA Finals ring with the Pacers.

Indiana took Shaquille O’Neal and the Magic to seven games in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

“We were right there, too,’ Fraser said. “I was just a game away from the championship series.’

His season with the Pacers gave Fraser a chance to do something he once considered impossible: learn to like Reggie Miller.

Miller, Indiana’s deadly outside-scoring threat, is one of sport’s most notorious motormouths.

He was Arizona’s Public Enemy No. 1 during four brilliant years at UCLA.

`Fans misunderstand Reggie,’ Fraser said. “A lot of what he does is meant to be good-natured. He’s really a good guy.’

Bruce would have a hard time convincing die-hard UA fans of that.


For more information on Elliott’s camp – which is open to boys and girls ages 8 to 17 – call 795-7714 or write to the Sean Elliott Camp, P.O. Box 42647, Tucson, Ariz. 85733.


Citizen Sports Columnist Corky Simpson may be reached at 573-4635 (fax 573-4569).

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