STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) Former Arizona star and NBA Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire was hired Wednesday as the new coach at Pacific.
Athletic director Ted Leland announced the hiring Wednesday, and Stoudamire was formally introduced on campus.
''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.''
Stoudamire spent the past seven years as an assistant coach with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and in college at Arizona and most recently Memphis. After a stellar four-year college career at Arizona, Stoudamire played 13 seasons in the NBA with Toronto, Portland, Memphis and San Antonio.
''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.''