Arizona formally announced the hiring of former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar as an associate head coach on Saturday.
Romar, who was fired at Washington last month after going 298-196 over 15 seasons as the Huskies’ head coach, will replace Joe Pasternack, who left to become UC Santa Barbara’s head coach on April 4.
Almost immediately after Pasternack left, Romar was believed to be Miller’s top choice if he wanted the job. However, the opening had to be posted for 10 days under UA regulations.
Romar, 58, is expected to receive a salary at least in the mid-six-figure range and is receiving a $3.2 million buyout from Washington. Pasternack made $302,000 as UA’s associate head coach.
“Of all the potential opportunities that were out there for me, joining the Arizona program was the one that was most appealing,” Romar said in a statement. “I truly believe Sean Miller is one of the best coaches in America. The opportunity to join him, his staff and the rich tradition of Arizona basketball is something that I’m extremely excited about.”
Although Washington and Arizona were among the Pac-12’s biggest rivals early in Miller’s UA tenure, Romar and Miller have had a close and respectful coaching relationship especially since they worked with USA Basketball’s junior teams in 2014 and 2015. Miller was an assistant to the U18 team in 2014 and head coach of the U19 team in 2015, while Romar was a member of the junior national team committee.
“Lorenzo’s accomplishments in this game speak for themselves, including his successful tenure as the head coach at Washington for the last 15 seasons,” Miller said in a statement. “However, his dedication to his players, passion for this game and impeccable character is what everybody that knows him loves about him. He will no doubt make a significant impact in all aspects of our basketball program as we continue to build and improve in all that we do.”
UA’s leading scorer, Allonzo Trier, appeared to be especially excited about the news. A native of Seattle who attended Romar’s camps early in his elementary school years, Trier tweeted out a series of upbeat emojis along with this: “ROMAR!!!!!!!!!!”
Romar was known at Washington for recruiting and developing much of the top-level talent in the Northwest. He had 13 players become NBA Draft picks but often watched many of them leave early for the NBA, and in many cases before they were expected to leave.
Last season, Romar coached guard Markelle Fultz, who is likely to be one of the top two draft picks, but the Huskies were just 9-22 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-12.
Before arriving at Washington in 2002-03, Romar spent three seasons apiece as the head coach at Pepperdine (1996-99) and Saint Louis (1999-2002). He played at Washington and for five seasons in the NBA.