Former Arizona Wildcats point guard Jason Gardner was hired last month as an assistant coach at Loyola University of Chicago, beginning his college coaching career.
Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic caught up with Gardner, 30, and you can read the full story at his blog at azcentral.com. Here are some of the highlights of the Q&A:
What appealed to you about Loyola?
“A couple things. I think the biggest thing is what the school has to offer and what it stands for. It’s a great academic school and they’re putting a lot of money into the athletic side to build all the programs up. It’s just a great situation with new facilities and a new staff. Coach (Porter) Moser is an X and O’s coach. I think he’s definitely somebody who not only develops players, but also coaches.”
Have you always wanted to coach?
“I always thought I’d get into it after I was finished playing. Last year I had an opportunity to get to know (Indiana coach) Tom Crean, and that helped out. I ended up working at Cathedral High School under Andy Fagan. He’s a great teacher of the game. This summer I worked (on the AAU circuit) and that was definitely an experience. And now I’m here at Loyola.”
Did you enjoy playing overseas?
“My family got to see a lot of different places throughout Europe. My daughter (8-year-old Jasper) got to see the London Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, and when she sees those things now, she’s like ‘Daddy, we’ve been there.” At one time, I was like, ‘It’s OK playing here,’ but now when my daughter says things like that it makes me appreciate it more.”
Was it tough not making it to the NBA?
“It was. We played at a high level at Arizona, and I played against a lot of those point guards coming out, so you always wonder, ‘Why not me?’ When you grow up as a kid, you think, ‘Oh, I’m going to play in the NBA,’ so when it doesn’t happen, it’s a little bit of a shock, but you got to get back up. At the end of the day you have to find a way to get over it. I ended up having a great career in Europe, playing with a lot of good people, learning a lot more about basketball.”