Pepperdine announced Lorenzo Romar, who coached the Washington Huskies from 2002 through last season, is back for his second stint as basketball coach of the Waves. Romar is associate head coach at Arizona, which is in the NCAA tournament.
MALIBU, Calif. – Former Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is returning to Pepperdine to guide the Waves’ program for a second time.
Pepperdine athletic director Steve Potts said Monday that Romar will be back in Malibu as soon as Arizona’s season ends.
Romar is in his first season as associate head coach at Arizona and the Wildcats are in the NCAA tournament field.
The 59-year-old Romar previously guided the Waves from 1996 to 1999, going 42-44 in his first job as a head coach.
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Romar said he preferred to stay on the West Coast and said his comfort level with Potts and university President Andrew Benton “played a huge role” in his decision to return to the campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Romar left Pepperdine in 1999 to become coach at Saint Louis. The former UW and NBA guard coached Washington from 2002 through last season.
Romar was voted Pac-12 coach of the year in 2005, 2009 and 2012 and had a 298-195 record with the Huskies.
But Washington hasn’t been in the NCAA tournament since 2011 and Romar was fired last March after the team was 9-22 in his final season. Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins replaced Romar and was this season’s Pac-12 coach of the year.
Romar, who is from Compton, Calif., was a two-year starter at Washington and played five seasons in the NBA, with Golden State, Milwaukee and Detroit.
“The Christian mission that Pepperdine stands for, its values, the fact that they are committed to putting forth the resources necessary to allow Pepperdine to get back to the highest level where they once were, all this is very exciting to me,” Romar said.
After a rebuilding season in his first season in charge of the Waves, Romar led Pepperdine to 17 and 19 victories over his next two seasons, including a spot in the NIT in 1999. Some of the players Romar recruited to Pepperdine would go on to make the NCAA tournament in 2000 and 2002.
“I remember us not doing well our first year,” Romar said of coaching Pepperdine. “When we took over, there had been a couple of losing seasons before that, and in our first year we also had a losing season. Then in our second year, I think we were the second-most improved team in the country. To see the kids on that team experience a little more success was something that was really exciting.”
In 21 seasons as a coach, Romar’s record is 391-284.
“Lorenzo Romar is one of the finest men that I know,” Potts said. “I am extremely pleased and excited that he has agreed to rejoin our program as our men’s basketball head coach. His commitment to our Christian mission, to the academic well-being of our student-athletes and to building a men’s basketball program that will compete for West Coast Conference championships make him a perfect fit for Pepperdine.”
Benton said, “I am delighted that Coach Romar is coming ‘home’ to Pepperdine. I admire his approach to the game of basketball and the way in which he leads his teams in preparation for the game of life. We open this new chapter with confidence, and, of course, with waves of enthusiasm.”
Romar is known as an excellent recruiter. Thirteen of his Washington players were selected in the NBA draft — 10 were first-round picks, including Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Terrence Ross, Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray and 2017 top overall pick Markelle Fultz. Future NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas also played for Romar at Washington, one of 16 Huskies that went on to play in the league during his tenure.
In 2006, Romar was honored with the John Wooden “Keys To Life” Award. Conference players, in a poll, once voted him as the opposing coach that they would most like to play for.
After the 1984-85 NBA season, Romar joined Athletes in Action and played with the organization for seven seasons. He eventually became a player-coach with the organization. That eventually led him to becoming an assistant coach at UCLA under former Pepperdine head Jim Harrick.
During his four seasons (1992-93 through 1995-96), in which he was the top assistant and lead recruiter, the Bruins won the 1995 NCAA title.
Romar has also been involved with USA Basketball. He coached the U.S. U-18 national team, which won a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA Americas tournament.