What was long-rumored among basketball insiders became a reality today as the University of Washington this morning formally announced the hiring of Will Conroy to the men's basketball coaching staff under head coach Lorenzo Romar. It is a reunion for the two as Romar coached Conroy at Washington for the standout guard's final three seasons as a Husky, a period that saw the rise of Husky basketball back to national prominence.
Conroy went on to pursue his professional basketball dreams, getting brief stints with Memphis, the Clippers, Houston and Minnesota as well as extended runs in the NBA Development League and various tours overseas. He also had a brief stint with Minnesota as a scout during the 2012-2013 season.
This is an intriguing hire for Romar - many close to the program felt that the staff had lacked some needed fire when Cameron Dollar departed for the head coaching job with Seattle U., and Conroy will certainly bring that fire back. He also is very well connected locally. An alum of Garfield H.S., he's been active in the local hoops scene for over a decade. On the flip side, he has no formal experience as a coach, and will look to Romar, Brad Jackson and Raphael Chillious to mentor him in this new role.
Conroy's hire fills the vacancy created a couple of months ago when T.J. Otzelberger announced his return to Iowa State, a move that will pay off handsomely for him as he will likely follow Fred Hoiberg as an assistant on the Chicago Bulls coaching staff if he's not hired as Hoiberg's replacement with the Cyclones.
Here's the full press release from the University:
SEATTLE – Former Washington Men’s Basketball standout Will Conroy has been added to head coach Lorenzo Romar’s staff as an Assistant Coach, the program announced Thursday.
"We are thrilled to have Will Conroy join our basketball staff," said Romar. "As we talk about re-establishing our culture, he is a former player that really embodied that culture. He has always wanted to coach and has a tremendous passion for the game along with great ties to the Seattle community."
"I am so excited to return to the University of Washington men’s basketball program," added Conroy. "There is no other place that I would rather be to help student-athletes develop as both players and people on and off the court. I am fired up to be a part of putting Husky basketball back on the national scene especially with local players and the level of talent we have coming in."
Conroy donned the purple and gold from 2001-05 and after initially joining the program as a walk-on, went on to finish as the all-time assists leader in program history with 515. He also still holds the senior record for assists (219) and finished third all-time in career assists per game at 4.3.
He was the first Husky to top the 200-assist mark during a season and the first to surpass 100 assists in three different seasons. Additionally, he was the 23rd player in Pac-10 history to reach the 500-assist plateau and the 18th to also score 1,000 points. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 accolades as a senior and was voted the team’s MVP along with serving as the team captain during his junior and senior seasons.
While at UW, Conroy helped the Huskies reach the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years and earn the program’s first No. 1 seed, while also making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1998. Additionally, Conroy led the Dawgs to consecutive Pac-12 Tournament Championship games in 2004 and 2005 and took that trophy home as a senior after UW defeated No. 8 Arizona. Washington’s 29 wins that season also tied the 67-year-old school record.
"Coach Romar is like a father figure to me," added Conroy. "He’s someone I’ve wanted to model myself after because he does everything the right way. This is a unique opportunity since I’ve played for him and we had success here during that time. I know how he thinks and what he likes and doesn’t like, which I believe will be beneficial to the program. I am thankful to the University and to coach Romar for giving me the opportunity to be here."
Following his collegiate career, Conroy spent seven years playing for various teams in the NBA and overseas before taking a front office position for the Minnesota Timberwolves. During his pro career, Conroy was given the 2009 NBA D-League Sportsmanship Award and saw action for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Rockets and Timberwolves.
Conroy is no stranger to the Seattle basketball scene as he attended Garfield High School and led the program to four-straight league championships. The Bulldogs boasted a 100-15 record during his prep career and he picked up All-KingCo First Team honors during his senior season after averaging 14.5 points and 3.6 assists.
The Huskies will have four Seattle-based players joining the roster this year in Dejounte Murray, Matisse Thybulle, David Crisp and Dominic Green.
"I can’t wait to start working with both the returning guys and our new group coming in," said Conroy. "I’ve seen a lot of the incoming freshmen play since so many are from the Seattle area and they’re an extremely talented group. It’s a great class of very, very athletic guys that will be fun for Husky fans to watch and the fact that most of them are from here is going to be a great thing for our program."
Conroy has two children, William Jr. (4) and Madison (1) and is engaged to Tanika Latte.