Arizona vs. Mississippi, Sweet 16, 2001 NCAA tournament

Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas and Loren Woods celebrate their 2001 Sweet 16 success against over Mississippi.

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Gilbert Arenas believes the next leader of the storied UA basketball program should be a former Wildcat — and not longtime Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd.

Arenas, a former NBA star who played for Arizona's 2001 Final Four team, joined Arizona teammate Richard Jefferson's Instagram live stream, which he's no stranger to, from the comfort of his own car. The two ex-Wildcats talked talked basketball and, yes, the UA head coaching search following last week's firing of Sean Miller.

When Jefferson asked "Agent Zero" about who should take the reins of UA hoops, Arenas suggested former Arizona standout Damon Stoudamire, who is currently the head coach at Pacific.

Before taking over Pacific in 2016, Stoudamire spent the early stages of his coaching career as an assistant coach at Rice, the NBA's Memphis Girizzlies and University of Memphis under ex-Cat Josh Pastner. In five seasons at Pacific, his first head coaching gig, Stoudamire has a 71-77 record, but led the Tigers to 23 wins in 2019-20 and was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

"He's been coaching for a while now, he's established himself, he's turned a whole program around," Arenas said.

Arenas added Stoudamire "has the credentials" to take over Arizona, whereas an "assistant coach" — aka Lloyd — "doesn't have the credentials." 

"I'm not even going to say his name, because you're an assistant coach. OK? You assist," Arenas said.

Arenas mentioned Josh Pastner as a candidate, "but Josh already has a D-I job (at Georgia Tech)," and "anyone that played (at Arizona) should be considered first." 

Jefferson alluded to Lloyd evolving into the top assistant coach at one of the premier West Coast basketball programs, which went to two national title games (2017, '21) and won 19 WCC championships during his tenure at Gonzaga, and had a hand in the recruitment of the Bulldogs' top international prospects. 

"What did they do? They had an AAU schedule and didn't play anybody," Arenas said. "When they did play somebody, they got their asses handed to them and as an assistant coach, you should have said, 'Hey, listen, our offense is not working today; maybe we should just play them one-on-one since we have the No. 3 pick in the draft (Jalen Suggs). Let him get busy since he's not getting any shots." 

Jefferson asked Arenas to share his second option, if Arizona doesn't hire Stoudamire away from the WCC.

Arenas' response: Los Angeles Lakers assistant and famed Wildcat Miles Simon, whose only head coaching experience was with L.A.'s Summer League team in 2018. Simon was an assistant at Arizona from 2005-08 before becoming a college basketball analyst at ESPN. He joined the Lakers as an assistant in '17. 

Regardless of who is Miller's successor, Arenas would prefer the new coach to be a member of the UA fraternity. 

"When it comes to Arizona alums, we're (expletive) bright," said Arenas. "Any one of us will do that job." 

Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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