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Miller’s priorities: meeting players, recruiting more

Citizen Staff Writer



Sean Miller is a player’s coach.

He said it a number of times; the current Arizona players felt it when Miller was introduced on Tuesday afternoon at McKale Center.

“He sounded like a real good guy,” freshman Brendon Lavender said. “I’m ready for him and his system. I’m real excited.”

Excited may have been the word of the day.

That’s the type of buzz Miller, 40, brought to McKale, and those who hired him hope to market it over the months and years. Miller has signed a five-year, $2 million a year contract. Incentives can reach up to $985,000 if UA wins the national title, and he’ll receive a $1 million signing bonus.

Miller’s priority will be meeting and talking with the players and trying to attract others. He called this time “critical” for making decisions on his roster for next year and beyond.

He said he’d meet with the team to get a general feel for it.

“It’s hard to make decisions about the future if you don’t have a feel for the now,” he said. “There is nothing more important than the players. It’s not even close. If you treat the players the right way, they will run through a wall for you. If (you do it right), the team will build itself.”

He realizes he must land players. Arizona could have as many as seven scholarships to give for next season, depending on who returns. UA junior Chase Budinger has declared for the NBA draft.

Jordan Hill said he’ll make his decision public at the end of the week. Nic Wise told the Tucson Citizen after the team’s loss to Louisville in the NCAA Sweet 16 two weeks ago that he’d “likely” test the waters of the NBA.

Budinger said he was impressed with Miller.

“He’s a good fit,” he said. “I think he’ll do a good job here.”

Miller said he realizes he’s under the gun, with recruit signing day next week.

But he knows what he wants in selling Arizona’s brand and its tradition-rich basketball program.

He said he could go after a junior college recruit or two but is more concerned about getting “the right people and the right players.” It’s not necessarily about a “quick fix.”

“The reality right now and how I feel about it is, every person who gets a full scholarship has to be a person of high character and has to fit the way we play,” Miller said.

Miller warned that there are not a lot of recruits left for next season. He said he’ll make sure he is patient and will take the right kind of player.

“That will define where we go from here,” he said.

Part of the process, he said, will be to recruit beyond this class. Arizona has one commitment for next season, a junior college player, but even that is up in the air.

“I’ve had people we’ve been recruiting reach out to me,” he said. “We have to take the players that we want. And if that’s not in the class of 2009, we’ll be patient.”

Patience apparently was the key the past few days in hiring the highly regarded Miller, who led Xavier to four straight NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16. Miller waffled Sunday night but on Monday decided Tucson was the place to be.

“I don’t know if I ever said no or I ever said yes,” Miller said. “It takes time in making the decision to be able to figure out what’s right and what is wrong, taking a deep breath and reflecting on it.”

Miller said UA athletic director Jim Livengood was at the “mercy of me taking a bit longer – not necessarily changing my mind – but making sure.

“When a new coach shows up here you want him to be ready to go. I know what the expectations are. I wanted to make sure I was that guy. That’s why the process seemed unique.”

Livengood called the last week of trying to sign a coach – yes, he said USC coach Tim Floyd was asked – “an exhausting experience.” He said Floyd was the only coach who was asked to take the job. And with Floyd it wasn’t “about Arizona but where he was.”

“But it was trying to get the right fit for this university and this program,” Livengood said.

Miller’s priorities: meeting players, recruiting more of them

Budinger declares for NBA

• Junior Chase Budinger (right) says he’s ‘ready’ to turn pro. Jordan Hill may follow him, but new UA coach Sean Miller – a former point guard – is trying to keep Nic Wise from going to the NBA. 4C

Contract unveiled

• Some people conscious of UA’s budget cuts question Sean Miller’s five-year, $11 million contract. 1A

• Detailed look at contract, which includes $1 million signing bonus. 7A

Meet the Miller family

• Amy Miller (left) and her sons – Austin, Cameron and Braden – soak up the atmosphere at McKale Center. 4C

• Sean Miller recalls “loud” McKale; his friend Herb Sendek is now his rival. 4C

‘I’ve had people we’ve been recruiting reach out to me. . . . We’ll be patient.’


newly hired to run UA program

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