Arizona Basketball and head coach Sean Miller have announced the addition of former Northern Arizona head coach Jack Murphy to the Wildcats’ staff as associate head coach. Murphy brings a wealth of experience at both the college and professional ranks, while bringing deep Wildcat ties back with him to Tucson.
“It’s very exciting to welcome back Jack Murphy and his family to the University of Arizona,” head coach Sean Miller said. “Jack combines invaluable head coaching experience, recruiting at the national level of college basketball, and an NBA pedigree. More importantly, Jack brings a love for Arizona Basketball and our community like no one that I have met in coaching. He is a tremendous person, a caring family man, and an outstanding coach. All of us in our program look forward to working with him as we prepare for an exciting year ahead.”
Murphy has valuable head coaching experience after spending seven seasons as the leader of the Lumberjack program. He’s also a dynamic recruiter that helped Memphis land a top-five recruiting class in 2010, while he served as an assistant. Murphy also spent time in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets as an advance scout for three seasons, after an eight-year stint in Tucson on Coach Lute Olson’s staff as a team manager, recruiting coordinator, administrative assistant, video coordinator and director of operations.
“I am very excited to be back at the University of Arizona,” Murphy said. “The great part about Arizona Basketball is that you never leave the family. You’re just returning home after a long vacation to get to work to help Coach Miller achieve all the goals he has set for Arizona. I just can’t wait to get started.
“I think Coach Miller is one of the best coaches in the country. I am excited to learn from him and continue my professional development. I love the way his teams defend and compete. They have a toughness about them that I have always admired, and I’m eager to grind in the trenches with the entire staff.”
Murphy began his basketball career with some of Olson’s most successful teams in Tucson. In his eight years with the program, the Wildcats went 199-66 ( a .751 winning percentage), won three Pac-10 Championships, one conference tournament, made eight NCAA tournament appearances, while making two Elite Eight appearances and a Final Four appearance.
Murphy spent time as a team manager, recruiting coordinator, administrative assistant, video coordinator and director of operations while with the Wildcats.
In Tucson, Murphy worked with future NBA players Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright, Channing Frye and Hassan Adams. He left a memorable impact on the players he worked with, many of who still remain close with him today.
“Having Murph back at Arizona is fantastic,” said Jefferson, a 17-year NBA veteran. “His loyalty, high character and basketball knowledge are going to be a tremendous asset to Sean and OUR program! I couldn’t be more excited today, and for the future of Arizona Basketball.”
Added Walton, the current head coach of the Sacramento Kings: “Murph was there when I was a freshman at Arizona when we lost the 2001 National Title, and there in 2003 when we lost in the Elite Eight. He helped prepare me for the 2003 NBA Draft, and has been there for me ever since. When I think of Wildcat basketball, and what that means, I think of Jack Murphy. He will do a great job for Sean, and my family and I will be rooting for our Cats!”
Following his time in Tucson, Murphy spent three years with the Nuggets, working for coach George Karl, who is one of nine NBA coaches with at least 1,000 career wins. Murphy worked with NBA All-Stars Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, while with Denver and had a strong influence on the Nuggets success. Denver averaged nearly 50 wins a season during Murphy’s time with the organization and made the postseason in each of his three seasons.
“I am so happy for Jack and Arizona,” said Karl, who won 1,175 games in his time as an NBA coach. “Jack’s energy, enthusiasm and love of the game is contagious. Our teams in Denver had a foundation of hard work before and after practice and Jack was there every step of the way for that. He’s a basketball guy and Arizona is a basketball school. It’s a perfect fit.”
While at Memphis, Murphy was known as a relentless recruiter, who helped the Tigers secure four players ranked in the nation’s Top 100 and two McDonald’s All-Americans in the 2010 recruiting class alone. The class was ranked No. 2 by Rivals.com and Scout.com. He then went on to land three more Top 100 players and two more McDonald’s All-Americans. The Tigers went 75-29 in Murphy’s three seasons with three 20-win seasons.
“There isn’t another school in the country my wife and I would leave NAU for,” Murphy said. “When Coach Miller called, it brought back so many memories and emotions. It’s something I could not pass up for my family. Being an Arizona Wildcat, it’s in the fabric of who you are always.”
Murphy, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona, remains close with Olson and has continued to use all the lessons the Hall of Famer taught him while leading the Arizona program.
“There is no one I count on more than Coach Olson,” Murphy said. “My job is to carry on his legacy to the best of my ability. Coach O always had two feet in, and everyone was a part of the Arizona Basketball family. It’s a special, special feeling that I get to have again.”
Murphy and his wife, Michelle, have twin daughters, Emma and Isabella, and a son, Dylan.
“As former players, we couldn’t be more excited for Coach Miller and the Arizona Basketball family to have Jack Murphy back in the fold,” former player Justin Wessel said. “Not only does he bridge the gap with the Lute Olson era, but Jack is a great basketball mind, and one of the most honest people I’ve ever known.”