This time of the year is rampant with coaching rumors in the world of college basketball as the coaching carousel rife with coach poaching and coaches making deals with parents or high school coaches of the country’s elite high school talent try to land a blue-chip recruit for a program.
This carousel doesn’t typically include already employed NBA coaches though, especially when the rumored school currently has a head coach already and is in the NCAA Tournament.
That is the situation with Phoenix Suns Head Coach Earl Watson and the UCLA job.
Watson was a four-year player at UCLA in the early 2000s and has made it known in the past that coaching at his alma mater would be a dream job for him. With the rumors that former Indiana basketball star and current UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford potentially jumping ship and taking the open job at IU (to avoid dealing with LaVar Ball and his less talented kids than Lonzo), some think Watson could be headed to Westwood.
This is what Watson told Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic about the rumors:
“There’s no doubt that I love my school,” Watson said. “It took me out of a poverty situation and gave me hope. The school is an amazing place. I feel like it saved me. But I also feel like (former Memphis coach) Hubie Brown saved me in another way. Playing for the Utah Jazz, they were there during a difficult part of my personal life and they helped me a ton. And then, of course, the San Antonio Spurs, after the death of my brother, the love they gave me is what I needed most, and that love is genuine. So you have different points in your life where people and groups come into your life and none of them are family and they impact you for the positive.”
At the same time:
“I’m more focused on creating value for our (organization), to give management and ownership many options to build a championship contender here,” Watson said. “What I mean by that is, building the value of the young players so that their value and their game and their confidence give them the option to be financially secure in this league when they become free agents; giving our ownership the option to build around them or give ownership and management the option to make moves because their value is so high to put us in contention quicker. That’s all I can do is build value. The winning will happen. There’s a lot of questions with our program, but one thing I do realize is these players are playing amazing for their age. I love them, they’re like my little brothers. My main focus is here.”
Watson is a very honest, upfront and genuine person and I believe that he is fully committed to the Suns as long as they are committed to him.
Don’t let the 31-73 coaching record fool you, the Suns have been tanking these past two years and are currently trotting out a team on a nightly basis younger than 80 percent of the teams in the Sweet 16.
Watson isn’t going anywhere and he shouldn’t be, he has the complete trust and respect of his younger players like Devin Booker and is a good fit to help them grow over the next few years.