Josh Pastner is ridiculous. Ridiculous in the way that he finished the 120 credit hours required for his University of Arizona bachelor’s degree in five semesters, including a particularly trying term with 33 credits. Ridiculous in the way he finished his master’s a year later. Just ridiculous enough in that, if his keynote at an Alumni Association event last week is an indicator, he could provide energy Tech basketball desperately needs.
Even as a high school student, Pastner knew he was going to be a coach. When he was applying to college and looking for a spot on the basketball team, it was not to become a full time player; it was to become a student coach.
This first step led him to the University of Arizona where he was a part of 1997 NCAA Champion team. Two years later, he was named an assistant coach. From there, he moved to Memphis a few seasons later under Kentucky’s current coach, John Calipari.
After Calipari accepted the job at Kentucky, all of his assistants were set to follow him, including Pastner. On his way to Lexington, Pastner received a call from the Memphis athletic director asking him to come to his house.
When he arrived at the AD’s house in a t-shirt and shorts, Pastner was offered the head coaching position. Although shocked by the opportunity, Pastner accepted and began his head coaching career.
It is important to note that while Pastner didn’t necessarily live up to expectations at Memphis in terms of his teams’ play, he did live up to them in terms of recruiting. Recruiting is one of the biggest problems Tech has dealt with in recent years is finding talented players in high schools nationwide, and Pastner has already begun to develop a solution.
As evident in his extreme dedication to his degree, Pastner believes the education athletes receive is integral to their time at a school. To some recruits, Tech’s relatively rigorous academic curriculum is a deterrent, an obstacle to quickly achieved stardom. Pastner believes it can instead be an asset.
Convincing players that coming to Tech will convince NBA scouts not only of their playing ability but also their maturity, Pastner has a clear plan. It may be a while for Tech to achieve the success it once enjoyed in the Bobby Cremins era, but Pastner leaves the Jackets optimistic.