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Olson expected to tap Pennell



Former Arizona State assistant Russ Pennell, who coaches a high school guard Arizona covets, is expected to join Lute Olson’s staff as an assistant.

Pennell, 47, agreed to take the job Wednesday in a meeting with Olson, who was searching for an assistant after he announced that Kevin O’Neill would not be on his staff next season.

“Russ announced to his (AAU) team that was his intention (to take the job),” said Gilbert Highland High coach Mark Carlino, whose son, Matt Carlino, plays for Pennell’s Arizona Premier Basketball Academy in Gilbert.

UA offered Matt Carlino, a freshman guard at Highland, a scholarship when he was in seventh grade, his father said.

Pennell, a longtime assistant to former ASU coach Rob Evans, told the Arizona Republic he could not comment on the projected hiring, which UA is expected to announce within a week.

UA athletic director Jim Livengood told the Citizen no one has been hired yet and that the position came open Wednesday. It’s expected to hit the UA jobs Web site by Friday.

“We’re in the process of looking at people,” Livengood said Thursday. “We have to go through a (waiting) period like everyone else.”

Mark Carlino said he knows Pennell “very well,” that “he’s a great coach, great floor coach and has a great rapport with his players.”

Carlino said hiring Pennell would only “enhance the recruitment of Matt.”

“Matt would have to speak to that, but he thinks the world of Lute and Russ,” said Carlino, whose son would enter UA after Olson’s contract runs out in 2011.

Pennell, who left Evans’ staff in 2004, has worked as a radio analyst for ASU games. Pennell and Olson did not return calls left by the Citizen.

O’Neill, Arizona’s interim coach last season during Olson’s leave of absence, was reassigned this week to a fund-raising job in UA’s athletic department.

Former UA player Reggie Geary and ex-UA assistant Rodney Tention told the Citizen they spoke informally with Olson about the assistant’s job.

Contributing: Norm Frauenheim of the Arizona Republic

• Geary shows interest in UA job, 2C

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