Arizona Wildcats men's basketball

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Arizona Wildcats men's basketball
2018–19 Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team
Arizona Wildcats logo.svg
University University of Arizona
All-time record 1,795–938–1 (.657)[1]
Athletic director Dave Heeke
Head coach Sean Miller (10th season)
Conference Pac-12
Location Tucson, Arizona
Arena McKale Center
(Capacity: 14,644)
Nickname Wildcats
Colors Cardinal and Navy[2]
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours
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Alternate jersey
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Team colours
NCAA Tournament champions
NCAA Tournament runner-up
NCAA Tournament Final Four
1988, 1994, 1997, 2001
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
1976, 1988, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1951, 1976, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
NCAA Tournament Round of 32
1976, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
NCAA Tournament appearances
1951, 1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999*, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008*, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
*vacated by NCAA[3]
Conference tournament champions
1988, 1989, 1990, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2018
Conference regular season champions

1932, 1936, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953


1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018

The Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team is the intercollegiate men's basketball program representing the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. They compete in the Pac-12 Conference of NCAA Division I and are currently coached by Sean Miller.

Arizona has a long and rich basketball history. The program came to national prominence under the tutelage of former head coach Lute Olson (1983–2007), who established the program as among America's elite in college basketball. One writer referred to UA as "Point Guard U"[4] because the school has produced successful guards like Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Gardner, Jerryd Bayless, and T. J. McConnell, among others.

From 1985 to 2009, the Arizona basketball team reached the NCAA Division I Tournament for 25 consecutive years, two years shy of North Carolina's record with 27.[5][6][7] Despite having their 1999 and 2008 appearances later vacated by the NCAA, the media still cites Arizona's streak, and simply notes the changes.[8][9] The Wildcats have reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament on four occasions (1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001). They have also made two appearances in the National Championship (won over Kentucky Wildcats in 1997, lost to Duke Blue Devils in 2001). In Pac-10 play, former head coach Lute Olson currently holds the record for most wins as a Pac-10 coach with 327.[10] In addition, the team has won sixteen Pac-10/12 regular season championship titles and seven Pac-10/12 tournament championship titles.[10] Arizona also holds the distinction of recording five out of the seven 17–1 Pac-10 seasons (one-loss seasons).[10] No team has gone undefeated since the formation of the Pac-10/12.

Arizona ranks 13th all time heading into the 2018–19 season with 1,795 wins and ranks 8th by winning percentage at (.657).[11] Arizona has spent 37 weeks at No. 1 in the AP Poll, which is tied for eighth-most all-time; 25 weeks at No. 2, 12th all-time; 150 weeks in the Top 5, seventh all-time; 299 weeks in the Top 10, sixth all-time; and 537 weeks in the top 25, 9th all-time.[12]


Early years (1904–1925)[edit]

The University of Arizona fielded its first men's basketball team in 1904–05. Orin Albert Kates coached the team and drew opponents from local YMCAs. The first game Arizona played ended in a 40–32 victory over the Morenci YMCA.[13]

In 1914, Arizona's first famous coach, James Fred "Pop" McKale was lured away from a teaching and coaching job at Tucson High School to take over as Athletic Director and coach basketball, football, baseball and track.[13] McKale took things to a new level, posting a 9–0 record his first season as a basketball coach.[13] Moreover, McKale elevated the program to intercollegiate play.[13] While basketball was his least favorite of the many sports he coached while at UA, He chalked up three undefeated seasons and a career-winning average of .803, which has never been bested by a UA coach who has held the post for at least three years.[13] The McKale Memorial Center, the main arena for Arizona basketball, is named in his honor.[13]

Fred Enke era[edit]

From 1925 to 1961, the program was under the stewardship of Fred Enke, UA's longest tenured coach.[14] Coach Fred A. Enke was responsible for the early successes of Wildcat basketball. Enke amassed 509 wins in his tenure on the UA sidelines and still ranks as the second-winningest coach in school history, winning more than 60 percent of his games. Enke also led the Cats to the first four postseason appearances (3 N.I.T./1 NCAA) in school history and in 1950–51 competed in both the N.I.T. and NCAA postseason tournaments. Finally, he was the first coach to lead Arizona to a national ranking. Two of his teams (1950, 1951) finished the season ranked in the top 15.[14]

Under Enke, UA competed in the now defunct Border Conference. Under Enke's direction, Arizona won 12 conference championships, including a span in which the Cats won or shared seven consecutive Border Conference titles (1942–51). No Border Conference team won as many league games (231) or overall contests (398) during its membership.[14] In 1962, Arizona joined the Western Athletic Conference as a founding member after the Border Conference disbanded.[14]

Fred Snowden era[edit]

In 1972, Fred Snowden was hired as the head basketball coach, making Arizona the second Division I school and the first major program to hire an African American head coach.[15][16] Known as "The Fox", Snowden brought the excitement back to Wildcat basketball during his 10 years on the Arizona sideline, averaging more than 80 points per game in six of his 10 years and topping the 100-point barrier 27 times.[14] Snowden led Arizona to the NCAA tournament twice, in 1976 and 1977, getting as far as the Elite Eight in 1976 before losing to UCLA 82–66, a game after defeating UNLV in a Sweet Sixteen matchup. During the 1976 tournament he also logged Arizona's first and only tournament wins until Lute Olson's hiring, beating John Thompson's Georgetown team 83–76. Snowden's 1976 team also won the school's only WAC championship title on a buzzer-beater by Gilbert Myles verses New Mexico, with the help of the spectacular play of Bob Elliott, Jim Rappis, and Al Fleming. In 1978, Coach Snowden helped transition the basketball program over to the newly formed Pac-10. Snowden could not sustain success in the Pac-10, however, finishing no higher than 4th place in the conference. His 9–18 final season led UA to look for a replacement.[13]

Known for his high-octane offense and remembered as a trailblazer, Fred "The Fox" Snowden brought excitement to Arizona basketball during his 10-year tenure as the program's head coach. Snowden, who led the Wildcats from 1972–82, was the first African-American head basketball coach at an NCAA Division I institution, amassing a 167–108 mark. The 1973 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, his career winning percentage of .607 has been topped by only three UA coaches since 1924. Nicknamed "The Fox" due to his cool demeanor, Snowden led Arizona to three postseason berths, including the 1975 National Commissioners’ Invitational Tournament and the 1976 and 1977 NCAA Tournaments. His best season came in 1976, when the Wildcats went 24–9, won the Western Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA West Regional Final. The Brewton, Ala., native was the head coach who led Arizona into the Pac-10 in the 1978–79 season, guiding the program for its first four seasons in the Conference. Snowden also oversaw the transition into the McKale Center after its opening in 1973. He was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Prior to his role at Arizona, Snowden was an assistant coach at Michigan. He also served on the coaching staff of his high school, Northwestern High School in Detroit, Mich., where he coached for five years after attending Wayne State University from 1954–58. Snowden died in 1994 at the age of 57.

Athletic Director Dave Strack brought in Ben Lindsey to replace Fred Snowden in 1983, and on the surface, it seemed like a reasonable move. Lindsey had junior college expertise, having had a successful career at Grand Canyon University, where he won two national titles. What resulted, however, was nothing short of disaster. The 1983 team finished with the worst season in school history at 4–24, with only one Pac-10 win.[13]

Lute Olson era[edit]

Early years[edit]

Newly hired UA Athletic director Cedric Dempsey fired Lindsey after only one season and hired University of Iowa coach Lute Olson as his successor. UA needed a coach with a history of quickly turning around programs, which Olson had done previously at Iowa. "I knew we had a tremendous amount of work to do", Olson recalled in a recent interview with Tucson Lifestyle. "The program was in shambles at that point, after the terrible year before..."[13]

All-American Sean Elliott won several national college basketball awards and set the school's scoring record while helping lead the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1988.

Under Olson, Arizona quickly rose to national prominence. Arizona won its first Pac-10 title in 1986, only three years after his arrival.[13] That season set up an amazing 1987–88 season, which included taking the Great Alaska Shootout championship, the Valley Bank Fiesta Bowl Classic championship and the Pac-10 championship.[13] Under players Steve Kerr, Kenny Lofton and Sean Elliott, Arizona spent much of the season ranked #1 and made their first (and Olson's second) Final Four.[13] While Arizona lost in the Final Four round, their play put the program on the map and launched Arizona's reign as a perennial Pac-10 and NCAA tournament contender. Sean Elliott was awarded the John R. Wooden Award on the season and would set the PAC-10 scoring record.[13]

In 1997, Arizona defeated the University of Kentucky, the defending national champions, to win the NCAA National Championship. Prior to winning the championship in 1997, Arizona stormed back from 10-point deficits in the Southeast Regional First Round and Second Round against #13 South Alabama and #12 College of Charleston, respectively winning 65–57 and 73–69. The Southeast Regional Semifinal pitted against overall #1 Kansas (34–1) which had defeated Arizona the year before in the 1996 West Regional Semifinal. However, Arizona came out fast and stunned the Jayhawks 85–82, then prevailed in overtime against Providence 96–92 in the Elite Eight to clinch a berth in the Final Four. Arizona then beat #1 seed North Carolina 66–58 in the Final Four, which turned out to be Dean Smith's last game as a coach. Arizona also accomplished the unprecedented feat of beating three number one seeds in the 1997 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. This feat has never been accomplished by another team.

The year following the Championship season, 1998, Arizona returned all 5 starters (Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson, Miles Simon, Bennett Davison, and A. J. Bramlett[17]) and were poised to make another run after receiving the #1 overall seed in the West, but were upset by Utah in the Elite 8.

In 1999, all 5 starters were lost to graduation or early entry to the NBA draft and Arizona's hopes of continuing its streak of consecutives trip to the NCAA tournament was in jeopardy until senior point guard Jason Terry (the 6th man the previous two seasons) elevated his game (receiving National Player of the Year honors) and continued the school's amazing streak.

1999 NCAA sanctions under Olsen[edit]

In 2000, former Wildcat Jason Terry, stated that he received approximately $4,500 in cash, checks and wire transfers from New York sports agent Larry Fox, after his junior season.[18] The NCAA announced that as a result a one-game 1999 NCAA tournament appearance was formally vacated. In addition, Arizona asked Terry to repay the $45,363 in forfeited NCAA 1999 tournament revenue and banned him from the UA Sports Hall of Fame, including a provision that his jersey would not be retired.[19] Terry's jersey was later retired in 2015.[19]

Later years[edit]

2001 was one of the most challenging and rewarding years for the program. Lute Olson's wife Bobbi, well known to players and fans alike as a steadfast presence on the sidelines, lost her battle with cancer. The team, which had been a preseason pick by many to win the national title had to play without Olson for three weeks while Olson was on bereavement leave. The Cats vowed to dedicate their season to Bobbi. With guard Jason Gardner, center Loren Woods and forward Michael Wright — each an All-American — leading the way, the Cats trounced their opponents, beating Oregon 104–65, devastating USC 105–61, and charging through the Final Four. They took down Eastern Illinois, Butler, Mississippi, Illinois, and Michigan State, only to be stopped by Duke in the title game. While being considered the favorite to win the title, which would have been Coach Olsen's 2nd and tied him with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his opponent, the Blue Devils claimed a ten-point victory in the game. This is the last game Coach Olsen ever coached in the Final Four and is considered by fans of the program to be his most bitter defeat. A championship would have vaulted him into hallowed ground among coaches, being one of few with multiple titles. Instead he remains tied with many coaches who have a single championship ring to their name. Meanwhile, his opponent in that game now is alone in second place among college coaches with five championship rings, behind only John Wooden's ten. It should be noted that all five of Krzyzewski's titles came in the 64 team field era while zero of Wooden's did. Still Coach Olsen earned the respect of his contemporary, Coach K said in the post game interview that "Arizona had a great team and an amazing season and was worthy of winning the championship, lets give a hand to Coach Olsen and his team." The comment drew rousing applause from the audience in attendance and made Coach Olsen proud, even in defeat, to be honored as an equal by Coach Krzyzewski who many claim is the best coach in college history.

In his later years at UA, Olson fielded competitive teams with extremely talented point guards. Continuing the reputation and nickname "Point Guard U,"[4] recent standouts include Jason Gardner, Salim Stoudamire, Mustafa Shakur, Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise. Arizona would win Olson's last Pac-10 title during the 2004–2005 season under the spectacular play of seniors Salim Stoudamire and center Channing Frye. That team also made it to the Elite 8 and the verge of the Final Four before blowing a 15-point lead with four minutes to play and losing in overtime, 90–89, to the No. 1 seed and eventual national runner-up, University of Illinois.[20]

Olson took an unexplained leave of absence at the beginning of the 2007–2008 season. Assistant coach Kevin O'Neill took over interim head coaching duties for the Arizona Wildcats. At that time, Olson announced that he intended to be back for the 2008–09 season and finish out his contract, which was scheduled to end in 2011.[21] His departure was criticized by some members of the media. They also questioned how he and the UA athletic department handled his return and the verbal succession agreement with coach O'Neill.[22] However, on October 23, 2008, he unexpectedly announced his retirement from the program (by way of an announcement from Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood).[23] A few days later, Olson's personal physician held a press conference and explained that the retirement was strongly advised due to health concerns.[24][25]

After Lute Olson's abrupt retirement, Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood appointed assistant coach Russ Pennell as the interim head coach for the 2008–2009 season 23 days before the start of the season.[26] The appointment came after Mike Dunlap, the associate head coach brought in to replace Kevin O'Neill, turned down the job. Under Pennell, the Cats finished 19–13 in the regular season, including a non-conference win over Kansas and a 7-game win streak with wins over UCLA and Washington. Despite a 19–13 finish to the season, Arizona was controversially selected as one of the last teams into the field of 65 as a 12th seed in the Midwest region, extending its NCAA consecutive tournament appearances to 25 years.[27] The Cats made it to the Sweet 16 (regional semi-finals) with wins over 5-seed Utah and 13-seed Cleveland State, before falling to overall 1-seed, Louisville.[28] Despite Pennell's post-season success, he was not retained, as Arizona announced before his hiring they would hold a national coaching search after the season ended.[28] (On April 9, 2009, Pennell was hired as head coach of the men's basketball team at Division II Grand Canyon University, a member of the Pacific West Conference.)

Further NCAA sanctions under Olsen[edit]

Following Olsen's retirement, reports of NCAA violations arose regarding payment of impermissible benefits to players and recruiting violations. In response, Arizona self-imposed sanctions that included a reduction in the number of recruiting visits by coaches and prospective players, the disbanding of a booster group, and implementation of a series of administrative and rules changes to prevent further violations.[29] The NCAA upheld most of those self-imposed sanctions but determined the school had used two ineligible players in 2007-08 and would have to vacate all wins involving those players and eliminate their statistics.[30] The NCAA reduced the number of scholarships and visits with recruits Arizona was allowed to make[31]. The NCAA found that Olson failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance at the university but decided against sanctioning the coach because he was retired and had health issues. "I think that was my fault," Olson said during a 2008 interview with "That wasn't anyone else's fault. It was my error and it was a big error. But I guess in 26 years you are allowed to make a mistake once in a while anyway and that's not to say I haven't made a lot of them but in terms of that, that was a big mistake on my part."[32]

Sean Miller era[edit]

After the end of the season, various coaching names were considered to succeed Lute Olson on a permanent basis. Arizona was perceived to have interest in Gonzaga's Mark Few, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon and then-Memphis coach John Calipari (before he accepted the vacant position at Kentucky) to take the job. Arizona even brought USC's Tim Floyd on campus for an interview and while Arizona claims no formal offer was ever presented, Floyd ultimately turned down the job publicly.

Arizona hired Sean Miller from Xavier University to fill the head coaching position. He initially turned the job down before changing his mind and accepting the job on Apr. 6, 2009 despite having never visited the Arizona campus.[32] Miller was formally introduced as the 13th head men's basketball coach at Arizona at a press conference on April 7, 2009 at McKale Center.[33] At the press conference, Miller acknowledged Lute Olson's impact on the Arizona program by addressing Olson personally: "One of the reasons I sit here today is because of the great legacy you built."[34] Miller also promised U of A fans that they would enjoy the style of both offense and defense he would bring to Wildcat basketball. Miller's salary is $1.6 million per year; he will receive an additional $400,000 per season from Nike and media contracts during a five-year deal, as well as a $1 million signing bonus and other amenities such as season tickets to other Wildcat sporting events and the use of a private jet.[34] Within three months of joining the program, Miller compiled a strong five-player recruiting class that ranked 13th nationally in 2009.[35] After going 16–15 and missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 25 years during Miller's initial 2009–10 campaign.

In his second season as the head coach at Arizona, the Cats finished the season with 30–8, 14–4 Pac-12 play, behind the play of sophomore Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams.[36] It would be the Wildcats' first outright Pac-10 regular season title (its 12th overall), 4th 30+ win season (1st overall) and Elite Eight appearance (8th overall) since the 2004–2005 season. In addition, Miller led the Wildcats to their first unbeaten home record (17–0) in 14 years and was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. This was the first time an Arizona coach received this honor since Lute Olson in 2003. The 17 wins without a loss at home is tied for the second most in school history.[37] Miller would add to the season's success by guiding the Cats to their first Elite Eight appearance since the 2004–2005 Season as a 5-seed. In the second round, Arizona secured a 2-point victory over 12th seeded Memphis (coached by former Wildcat (and member of the 1997 national title team) Josh Pastner) with a blocked shot in the final seconds by Derrick Williams. Arizona would follow with another close game—a controversial one-point win against 4-seed Texas.[38] In the Sweet-16 match-up, Arizona found itself pitted against top-seeded Duke, the first time since the 2001 title game that the two schools had met.[39] Duke would extend an early lead, but 25 points from Derrick Williams kept the Cats in the game and down by 6 points at the half.[39] In the second half, Williams' teammates picked up the slack, dominating the Blue Devils by scoring 55 second-half points and routing the defending champs 93–77.[39] Arizona's run at the Final Four would fall 2 points short, losing to 3-seed (and eventual national champion) Connecticut 65–63.

For his third season, Arizona's 2011 recruiting class was ranked 7th, notably signing Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner. Arizona secured three players in the top nine of the ESPNU 100, with all four newly signed players within the top 36. This has cemented Arizona as the No. 1 signing class nationally, surpassing Kentucky who held the No. 1 spot 2010 and 2011.[40][41][42] The Wildcats missed the postseason for the second time, reached to the NIT Tournament before falling to Bucknell to finish the season 23–12 overall, 12–6 in Pac-12.

In his fourth season, Miller guided to its second top-5 ranking in the AP poll(the first coming in weeks 7–10 of the 2012–2013 season[43]), Arizona reached the Sweet 16 in 2013 falling to Ohio State, finished the season with 27–8, 12–6 in Pac-12.

In his fifth season with the most talent Coach Miller has had since arriving in Tucson. On December 9, 2013, Arizona became the #1 ranked Team in the Country for the 6th time in school history, after a 9–0 start with wins over traditional national powerhouses Duke and UNLV. The Wildcats followed this up by securing a key come-from-behind victory on the road at Michigan on December 14 and led the Wildcats to their second outright Pac-12 Regular Season Title (its 13th overall, 26th regular season overall) in Sean Miller's fifth year as the head coach. Arizona reached the second unbeaten home record at (18–0), Coach Miller again named the second Pac-10/12 coach of the year, 5th 30+ wins season (2nd overall), 2nd Elite Eight appearance (9th overall) in 2014. But in the 2014 NCAA tournament, the Wildcats would fall to Wisconsin in overtime, they finish the season with 33–5, 15–3 in Pac-12.

In his sixth season as the Arizona Wildcats basketball head coach, after Gonzaga's home loss to BYU on February 28, 2015, Arizona claimed the longest active home winning streak in D-I men's college basketball (38th home win at 2nd all-time, 82nd home win at 5th all-time). Arizona defeated #13 Utah in Salt Lake City the same day, winning its share of the Pac-12 regular season title. After three losses to Pac-12 archrival Arizona State, Oregon State and UNLV, Arizona won their third Pac-12 regular season championship title (2nd straight year, its 14th overall, 27th overall). Arizona reached the third unbeaten home record at (17–0). The Wildcats completes their sixth ever 30+ win (3rd overall) and won their first Pac-12 Tournament title (5th overall) since 2002. In the 2015 NCAA tournament, the Wildcats fell to the Wisconsin Badgers in Elite Eight, 85–78, and finished the season 34–4, 16–2 in the Pac-12.[44]

In his seventh season, They finished the season 25–9, 12–6 in Pac-12 play to tie with California for third place. They defeated Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament to advance to the semifinals where they lost to Oregon. In the 2016 NCAA Tournament, as a 6-seed in the South Region. They lost in the first round to Wichita State.

In his eighth season at UA, AP polls & 81-straight coaches polls. The 97-consecutive weeks in the AP poll is currently the second-longest streak in the nation behind Kansas at 161 weeks.[1] They have been ranked every week in the 2016-2017 season, bringing those totals to 97 weeks for the AP & 100 weeks for the coaches poll. Arizona won its first 10 conference games, the best start since the '97-'98 season when they started 16-0. They finished the season at seventh ever 30+ wins with 32–5, tied at 16–2 with Oregon in Pac-12 play for first place to win their 3rd Pac-12 regular season championship title for the 15th time (28th overall). The Wildcats entered the Pac-12 Tournament as a 2-seed, the Wildcats defeated 7-seed Colorado in the quarterfinals, 3-seed UCLA in the semifinals and 1-seed Oregon in the championship game, Wildcats won their 2nd Pac-12 Tournament championship title for the 6th time. In the 2017 NCAA Tournament, as an 2-seed in the West regional, Arizona defeated the 15-seed North Dakota 100–82 in the first round, 7-seed Saint Mary's 69–60 in the second round and losing to Xavier 71–73 in the Sweet Sixteen.

As Miller's ninth season as the head coach at Arizona was about to get underway, federal prosecutors announced, on September 26, 2017, bribery, soliciting a bribe and wire fraud charges against assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson as part of a far-reaching, college basketball-wide scandal.[45] Perhaps in part due to the ongoing scandal, the Wildcats ranked No. 2 in the country at one point, lost three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.[46][47] Arizona would eventually fire Richardson for his role in the scandal and the team would recover to lead the Pac 12 for the majority of the season.[48] On February 24, 2018, Associate Head Coach Lorenzo Romar was temporarily named head coach after news broke the previous day that Miller had been caught on an FBI wiretap offering to pay players to come to Arizona.[49][50] On March 1, Miller held a joint press conference with the University denying all allegations and stating he would be retained as men's head basketball coach. That same night, the Wildcats won their 29th regular season conference title, 16th in the Pac-12, and secured the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament by defeating Stanford 75–67. On March 10, Arizona defeated USC to win a record seventh conference tournament title. As a result, the Wildcats received an automatic bid to their sixth straight NCAA Tournament (35th NCAA tournament appearance, 12th all time) as the No. 4 seed in the South regional. The Wildcats, a trendy pick to make the Final Four and win the championship were blown out in the First Round by No. 13 seed Buffalo, losing 89–68.[51]

Sean Miller is currently in his tenth season as the Arizona Wildcats head coach.


The Wildcats have had 15 coaches in their 113-year history. Sean Miller is the current coach. To date, 1 Wildcats coach have won the two National Coach-of-the-Year award: Lute Olson in 1988 and 1990. Additionally, 2 Wildcats coaches have been named Pac-12 Conference Coach-of-the-Year: Lute Olson in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2003 and Sean Miller in 2011, 2014, and 2017.

Season by season results[edit]

Under Sean Miller

Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
2009–10 Arizona 16–15 10–8 4th
2010–11 Arizona 30–8 14–4 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2011–12 Arizona 23–12 12–6 4th NIT First Round
2012–13 Arizona 27–8 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2013–14 Arizona 33–5 15–3 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2014–15 Arizona 34–4 16–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2015–16 Arizona 25–9 12–6 T-3rd NCAA First Round
2016–17 Arizona 32–5 16–2 T-1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2017–18 Arizona 27–8 14–4 1st NCAA First Round
2018–19 Arizona
Arizona: 247–74 (.769) 121–41 (.747)
Total: 247–74 (.769)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


Arizona State[edit]

Since becoming a University on December 5, 1958. Arizona leads ASU 72–56. Since both schools joined the Pac-10 conference in the 1978–79 season Arizona leads ASU 58–26. Since Lute Olson took over as head coach for the 1983–84 season Arizona leads ASU 57–15. Before the arrival of Lute Olson at Arizona, the Bruins had won 21 of 23 games against the Wildcats. UCLA had been seen as the dominant college basketball program in the west, with few teams able to challenge UCLA for the throne beyond a few wins. The rivalry did not gather steam until Lute Olson's arrival in 1984, who compiled a 28–23 record against the Bruins during his tenure as Arizona's head coach.

The most recent matchup came in Tempe, AZ on March 10, 2018, where Arizona beat ASU 79-72. Arizona lead the all time series with 152–83.


Since then, the two schools competed for the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) Championship every year, with the two teams winning 22 out of the 30 conference titles, and 8 of 17 conference tournament titles. Arizona clinched their first conference title in 1986, when they won on the road at UCLA in Olsen's third season.[52][53] The UCLA-Arizona basketball rivalry is still seen as the match up of the two premier teams in the conference.[54] Also, the performance of the two schools influences the national opinion of the conference. California Coach Mike Montgomery has stated, "...If those two are not good, the conference is not perceived as being good. People don't give credit to the schools across the board in the league." Since the mid-1980s, Arizona has also had a basketball rivalry with UCLA, as the two schools competed for the Pac-10 Championship every year. Since 1985 the two teams have combined to win 24 out of the 34 conference titles. The UCLA-Arizona basketball rivalry still is seen as the match up of the two premier teams in the conference. Also, the performance of the two schools influences the national opinion of the conference.[55]

The most recent matchup came in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game on March 10, 2018, where Arizona beat UCLA 78-67 in overtime. Arizona Wildcats trailed the all time series lead by UCLA with 56–45.

Traditional rivalries[edit]


Team Arizona Record First Meeting Latest Result Home Record Away Record Neutral Record Notes
Arizona State (in-state) 152–83 (.648) Dec 13, 1913 (Arizona 41–17) Feb 15, 2018 (Arizona 77–70) 88–29 (.759) 63–53 (.543) 1–1 (.500) Arizona–Arizona State
UCLA 45–56 (.446) Feb 19, 1923 (UCLA 43–30) March 9, 2018 (Arizona 78-67) 24–17 (.585) 15–33 (.313) 5–6 (.455) Arizona–UCLA
Total 196–139 (.585) 1913 Present 112–46 (.709) 78–86 (.476) 6–7 (.462) N/A

Other rivals[edit]

Arizona also has intense rivalries with the in-state Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. As well as out-of-state rivalries, including Kansas, Duke, San Diego State and Gonzaga.

Team Arizona Record First Meeting Latest Result Home Record Away Record Neutral Record
BYU 20–19 (.513) Dec 1, 1951 (BYU 68–62) Dec 11, 2010 (BYU 87–65) 15–4 (.789) 4–14 (.222) 1–1 (.500)
Colorado 18–12 (.600) Dec 2, 1960 (Colorado 82–72) Mar 8, 2018 (Arizona 83–67) 9–3 (.750) 3–8 (.273) 6–1 (.857)
Duke 5–4 (.556) Dec 16, 1961 (Duke 78–47) Nov 29, 2013 (Arizona 72–66) 2–0 (1.000) 0–1 (.000) 3–3 (.500)
Gonzaga 6–2 (.750) Nov. 29, 2000 (Arizona 101–87) Dec. 3, 2016 (Gonzaga 69–62) 2–0 (1.000) 1–0 (1.000) 3–2 (.600)
Grand Canyon (in-state) 5–0 (1.000) January 6, 1978 (Arizona 78–66) December 14, 2016 (Arizona 64–54) 5–0 (1.000) 0–0 (–) 0–0 (–)
Illinois 8–6 (.571) Dec 27, 1966 (Illinois 93–77) Dec 8, 2007 (Arizona 78–72 OT) 3–0 (1.000) 0–3 (.000) 5–3 (.625)
Kansas 4–8 (.333) Dec 31, 1979 (Kansas 78–60) Nov 27, 2010 (Kansas 87–79) 1–2 (.333) 1–2 (.333) 2–4 (.333)
Michigan 8–2 (.800) Dec 30, 1957 (Michigan 88–76) Dec 13, 2014 (Arizona 80–53) 2–1 (.667) 1–1 (.500) 5–0 (1.000)
Michigan State 5–2 (.714) Jan 2, 1947 (Arizona 45–43) Nov. 11, 2016 (Arizona 65–63) 2–0 (1.000) 1–1 (.500) 2–1 (.667)
New Mexico 84–42 (.667) Feb 1, 1917 (New Mexico 28–19) Dec 20, 2016 (Arizona 77–46) 53–9 (.855) 30–32 (.484) 1–1 (.500)
North Carolina 3–4 (.429) Dec 28, 1948 (North Carolina 60–49) Jan 27, 2007 (North Carolina 92–64) 0–1 (.000) 0–1 (.000) 3–2 (.600)
Northern Arizona (in-state) 98–27 (.784) February 10, 1919 (NAU 37–32) November 10, 2017 (Arizona 101–67) 68–6 (.919) 30–21 (.588) 0–0 (–)
San Diego State 24–7 (.774) Dec 27, 1945 (Arizona 46–44) Nov 26, 2014 (Arizona 61–59) 14–2 (.875) 7–5 (.583) 3–0 (1.000)
Texas Tech 24–28 (.462) Jan 15, 1934 (Texas Tech 33–29) Dec 3, 2013 (Arizona 79–58) 17–9 (.654) 5–18 (.217) 2–1 (.667)
UNLV 9–12 (.429) Dec 28, 1972 (UNLV 65–64) Dec 2, 2017 (Arizona 91–88 OT) 6–2 (.750) 2–8 (.200) 1–2 (.333)
Utah 33–29 (.532) Dec 21, 1953 (Utah 65–57) Jan. 27, 2018 (Arizona 74–73) 19–8 (.704) 11–20 (.355) 3–1 (.750)
UTEP 61–30 (.670) Feb 2, 1920 (Arizona 24–15) Dec 19, 2014 (Arizona 60–55) 37–8 (.822) 23–22 (.511) 1–0 (1.000)
Wisconsin 2–5 (.286) Dec 3, 1962 (Arizona 51–46) March 28, 2015 (Wisconsin 85–78) 0–0 (–) 1–0 (.609) 1–5 (.167)
Total 416–239 (.635) 1919 Present 255–55 (.823) 119–157 (.431) 42–27 (.609)

Wildcats of note[edit]

Wildcats in NBA[edit]

Current NBA players[edit]

Name NBA team Seasons as Wildcat Post-Wildcat accomplishment
Channing Frye Cleveland Cavaliers 2001–05 NBA All-Rookie first team, NBA Champion (2016), NBA 3 Point Contest participant (2010)
Andre Iguodala Golden State Warriors 2002–04 3x NBA Champion (2015, 2017, 2018), NBA Finals MVP, United States – 2012 Summer Olympics – Gold medal, NBA All-Rookie Team, NBA All-star, 2x NBA All-Defensive Team, NBA Dunk Contest participant (2006)
Richard Jefferson Denver Nuggets 1998–01 United States – 2004 Summer Olympics – Bronze medal, NBA Champion, NBA Dunk Contest participant (2003)
Jason Terry Milwaukee Bucks 1995–99 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, NBA Champion (with Dallas Mavericks)
Jerryd Bayless Philadelphia 76ers 2007–08
Solomon Hill New Orleans Pelicans 2009–13
Aaron Gordon Orlando Magic 2013–14 2x NBA Dunk Contest participant (2016 & 2017)
Stanley Johnson Detroit Pistons 2014–15
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Brooklyn Nets 2013–15
T. J. McConnell Philadelphia 76ers 2013–15
Lauri Markkanen Chicago Bulls 2016–17
Kadeem Allen Boston Celtics 2014–17
Kobi Simmons Memphis Grizzlies 2016–17
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns 2017–18 First Arizona Wildcat to be selected 1st overall
Rawle Alkins Chicago Bulls 2016–18
Allonzo Trier New York Knicks 2015–18

Current NBA G League players[edit]

Name NBA team Seasons as Wildcat Post-Wildcat accomplishment
Nick Johnson Austin Spurs 2011-14
Brandon Ashley Texas Legends 2012-15
Grant Jerrett Canton Charge 2012-13

Source: Arizona 2017-18 Media Guide[57]

Current non-NBA professional players

All time non-NBA professional players

NBA Draft history[edit]

12 different NBA Championships have been won by 10 Wildcats players. Since the NBA draft was shortened to two rounds in 1989, 41 Arizona players have been selected. Former Wildcats have had successful NBA careers, totaling $1.25 billion in total contracts through the 2016–2017 NBA season[58]

Name Round Overall Pick Year Team
Morris Udall 1948 Denver Nuggets (NBL)
Lincoln Richmond 1948 Fort Wayne Pistons
Leon Blevins 7 79 1950 Indianapolis Olympians
Leo Johnson 5 44 1951 Ft. Wayne Pistons
Roger Johnson 1952 Milwaukee Hawks
Ernie McCray 17 95 1960 Cincinnati Royals
Warren Rustand 4 31 1965 San Francisco Warriors
Bill Davis 12 160 1968 Phoenix Suns
Michael Foster 1970 Indiana Pacers (ABA)
Tom Lee 9 147 1971 Philadelphia 76ers
Eddie Myers 10 160 1971 Baltimore Bullets (ABA)
Bill Warner 11 170 1971 Buffalo Braves (ABA)
Bruce Anderson 7 101 1972 Detroit Pistons
Eric Money 2 33 1974 Detroit Pistons (ABA)
Coniel Norman 3 37 1974 Philadelphia 76ers (ABA)
Al Fleming 2 30 1976 Phoenix Suns
James Rappis 5 77 1976 Milwaukee Bucks
Bob Elliott 2 42 1977 Philadelphia 76ers
Herman Harris 2 43 1977 Philadelphia 76ers
Jerome Gladney 8 164 1977 San Antonio Spurs
Phil Taylor 10 198 1978 Denver Nuggets
Larry Demic 1 9 1979 New York Knicks
Joe Nehls 7 152 1980 Houston Rockets
Ron Davis 4 79 1981 Washington Bullets
Robbie Dosty 6 148 1981 Golden State Warriors
Frank Smith 8 177 1983 Portland Trail Blazers
Leon Wood 1 10 1984 Philadelphia 76ers
Pete Williams 4 89 1985 Denver Nuggets
Eddie Smith 7 158 1985 Denver Nuggets
Tom Tolbert 2 34 1988 Charlotte Hornets
Steve Kerr 2 50 1988 Phoenix Suns
Sean Elliott 1 3 1989 San Antonio Spurs
Anthony Cook 1 24 1989 Phoenix Suns
Jud Buechler 2 38 1990 Seattle SuperSonics
Brian Williams 1 10 1991 Orlando Magic
Sean Rooks 2 30 1992 Dallas Mavericks
Chris Mills 1 22 1993 Cleveland Cavaliers
Ed Stokes 2 35 1993 Miami Heat
Khalid Reeves 1 12 1994 Miami Heat
Damon Stoudamire 1 7 1995 Toronto Raptors
Joseph Blair 2 35 1996 Seattle SuperSonics
Ben Davis 2 43 1996 Phoenix Suns
Reggie Geary 2 56 1996 Cleveland Cavaliers
Mike Bibby 1 2 1998 Vancouver Grizzlies
Michael Dickerson 1 14 1998 Houston Rockets
Miles Simon 2 42 1998 Orlando Magic
Jason Terry 1 10 1999 Atlanta Hawks
A. J. Bramlett 2 39 1999 Cleveland Cavaliers
Richard Jefferson 1 13 2001 Houston Rockets
Gilbert Arenas 2 31 2001 Golden State Warriors
Michael Wright 2 39 2001 New York Knicks
Loren Woods 2 46 2001 Minnesota Timberwolves
Luke Walton 2 32 2003 Los Angeles Lakers
Andre Iguodala 1 9 2004 Philadelphia 76ers
Channing Frye 1 8 2005 New York Knicks
Salim Stoudamire 2 31 2005 Atlanta Hawks
Hassan Adams 2 54 2006 New Jersey Nets
Marcus Williams 2 33 2007 San Antonio Spurs
Jerryd Bayless 1 11 2008 Indiana Pacers
Jordan Hill 1 8 2009 New York Knicks
Chase Budinger 2 44 2009 Detroit Pistons
Derrick Williams 1 2 2011 Minnesota Timberwolves
Solomon Hill 1 23 2013 Indiana Pacers
Grant Jerrett 2 40 2013 Portland Trail Blazers
Aaron Gordon 1 4 2014 Orlando Magic
Nick Johnson 2 42 2014 Houston Rockets
Stanley Johnson 1 8 2015 Detroit Pistons
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 1 23 2015 Portland Trail Blazers
Lauri Markkanen 1 7 2017 Minnesota Timberwolves
Kadeem Allen 2 53 2017 Boston Celtics
Deandre Ayton 1 1 2018 Phoenix Suns

Source: Arizona 2017–18 Media Guide[59] )

Wildcats in the NBA
NBA Draft Selections
Total selected: 77
Lottery Picks in Draft: 17
1st round: 23
No. 1 Picks: 1
Notable Achievements
Olympic Gold Medal Winners: 2 (Wood '84, Iguodala '12)
NBA Champions: 10 players a total of 23 times, 2 Coaches a total of 2 times
Naismith Basketball-Hall-of-Famers: 0

Current coaches in NBA[edit]

Current coaches in NBA G League[edit]

Current management in NBA[edit]

Wildcats with NBA Championships[edit]

A Total of 23 NBA championships have been won by 10 former Wildcats, consisting of 12 different finals years (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018). 7 of the last 10 championship teams have had a former Wildcat as a player and/or coaching staff member on the team.

Former Wildcats have played in 12 of the last 20 finals.

Player (College Years) Finals Year Team
Steve Kerr (1983–88)
Andre Iguodala (2002–04)
Luke Walton (1999-03)
Richard Jefferson (1998-01)
Jud Buechler (1986–90)
Channing Frye (2001–05)
Jason Terry (1995–99)
Bison Dele (1988–91)
Sean Elliott (1984–89)
Derrick Williams (2009-11)
Mike Bibby (1996-98)
Ben Davis (1994-96)
Al Fleming (1972-76)
Coach (College Years) Finals Year Team
Steve Kerr (1983–88)
Bruce Fraser (1984-87)
Luke Walton (1999-03)
Bret Brielmaier (2004-08)

Current Arizona Wildcats college coaches[edit]

Wildcats in the Olympics[edit]

The following Arizona Wildcats men's basketball players have represented their country in basketball in the Summer Olympics:

Year Player Country Location Medal
1984 Leon Wood  United States (USA) Los Angeles Gold
2004 Richard Jefferson  United States (USA) Athens Bronze
2012 Andre Iguodala  United States (USA) London Gold
UA Olympians

Honors, awards, and accomplishments[edit]

The individual honors, awards, and accomplishments listed in the succeeding subsections are aggregated by player in the following table. Players with only all-conference honors (other than conference player of the year), lower than first-team All-America honors, or later than second-round draft positions are not included.

Name Seasons as Wildcat Post-Wildcat accomplishment
Deandre Ayton 2017–18 First Wildcat selected 1st Overall
Gilbert Arenas 1999–01 3 Time NBA All-Star, NBA Most Improved Player Award, 2 Time NBA 3 Point Contest participant(2006 & 2007)
Mike Bibby 1996–98 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2 Time NBA 3 Point Contest participant(2000 & 2009)
Jud Buechler 1986–90 3 NBA Champion, 11 NBA seasons
Bison Dele (Brian Williams) 1989–90 NBA Champion, 7 NBA seasons
Sean Elliott 1985–89 2 Time NBA All-Star, NBA Champion, 12 NBA seasons
Channing Frye 2001–05 NBA Champion, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1 Time NBA 3 Point Contest participant(2010), 12 NBA seasons
Andre Iguodala 2002–04 3x NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP, NBA All-Star, NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA All-Defensive Second Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team, NBA Rookie Challenge MVP
Richard Jefferson 1998–01 NBA Champion, NBA All-Rookie Second Team, United States2004 Summer Olympics – Bronze Medal, 17 NBA Seasons
Steve Kerr 1983–88 5x NBA Champion as Player, 3x NBA Champion as Coach, 4 Time NBA 3 Point Contest participant & 1-time winner(1994–1997), 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, 2015 NBA All-Star Game Head Coach, Current Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors
Kenny Lofton 1985–89 6 Time MLB All Star, 4 Time Gold Glove Award, 17 MLB seasons
Eric Money 1972–74 456. Slam the 500 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time
Damon Stoudamire 1991–95 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 13 NBA seasons
Jason Terry 1995–99 NBA Champion, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, NBA All-Rookie Second Team, 18 NBA seasons
Mo Udall 1941–42, 46–48 Former member U.S. Congress (30 years)
Leon Wood 1979–80 United States – 1984 Summer Olympics – Gold medal, 7 NBA seasons

Source: Arizona 2018-19 Media Guide[59]

National honors and awards (Players)

Conference honors and awards (players)

Conference tournament most valuable player

Pac-12 Tournament MVP's