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VOL. 131 | NO. 55 | Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pacific Hires Damon Stoudamire as Basketball Coach


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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) – University of Memphis assistant coach Damon Stoudamire was hired Wednesday, March 16, as the new coach at the University of the Pacific. Stoudamire, who also played for the Memphis Grizzlies for three seasons (2005-2008) and later served as a Grizzlies assistant coach, was introduced on the Stockton, Calif., campus Wednesday by Pacific's athletic director, Ted Leland.

"I'm honored to be here today. I appreciate this opportunity," Stoudamire said. "I'm looking forward to making this whole community of Stockton proud. It's funny because I'm standing up here. I've played in front of a lot of big crowds in my life, I've played against some great players. And I'm going to be honest with you, I've never been so nervous of being in front of about 50 people in my life. But I'm fine with that. As you understand and you get to know who Damon Stoudamire is, I just kind of tell it like it is."

Former coach Ron Verlin was suspended by the school in December stemming from an investigation into academic misconduct. Pacific announced last month that Verlin would not return, and Stoudamire replaces interim coach Mike Burns.

New Orleans Pelicans general manager and former Pacific star Dell Demps called and offered "the perfect guy for you," Leland recalled during the news conference of the initial chat about Stoudamire.

"It's a special day for us," Leland said. "Damon is the third head coach in the last 27 years. This is a chance for us to look at the great tradition we have in basketball here and the great importance that it plays in the role of our campus and the city of Stockton but to take a look at sort of a new way of looking at it. A new direction, a new leadership. ... Damon is a teacher, a coach, a role model. He's an advocate for student-athletes."

Demps credited Stoudamire's ability to go from star player to talented coach.

"Damon is a hard-working basketball junkie that made himself into a very good NBA player," Demps said by text message. "After a phenomenal career, Damon rolled up his sleeves, paid his dues and worked his way up the coaching ladder."

After a stellar four-year college career at Arizona, Stoudamire played 13 seasons in the NBA with Toronto, Portland, Memphis and San Antonio. He left the NBA in 2008 and became director of player development for Rice University before coming back to Memphis as a Grizzlies assistant coach from 2009 to 2011.

He spent the next two seasons as part of the University of Memphis coaching staff, then returned to his alma mater as an Arizona Wildcats assistant coach from 2013 to 2015. It was announced last May that Stoudamire would rejoin the Memphis Tigers in the 2015-16 season.

"I'm going to bring great energy. I'm going to do the right thing," he said. "I want my guys to play the right way. I want them to be outstanding citizens in the community the right way. I want them to understand they can touch other people's lives."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Daily News editor Kate Simone contributed to this article.

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