SEATTLE – Washington’s all-time assists leader is joining the Huskies’ staff as an assistant coach.
The school announced Thursday that Will Conroy, the former Garfield High School star who played point guard at UW from 2001-05 and helped lead the Huskies to the first two NCAA tournament appearances of coach Lorenzo Romar’s tenure, has been hired as the team’s newest assistant.
He joins a staff that also includes assistants Raphael Chillious and Brad Jackson. Conroy replaces T.J. Otzelberger, who spent the past two seasons at UW before accepting an assistant job at Iowa State, where he worked from 2006-13.
“I am so excited to return to the University of Washington men’s basketball program,” Conroy said in a statement released by the school. “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.”
It’s a bit of a professional coup for Conroy, who spent one season as a scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves but has never been a coach. Following his senior season at UW in 2005 – in which the Huskies earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney and advanced to the Sweet 16 – Conroy bounced around the NBA and the developmental league, spending time with the Memphis Grizzles, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Timberwolves. He also played overseas in Italy, China, Turkey and, most recently, Germany.
During a four-year career with the Huskies, Conroy totaled a school-record 515 assists and set UW’s single-season assists record with 219 as a senior in 2004-05. He also ranks 29th in school history in scoring with 1,113 points, an average of 9.2 per game.
“Coach Romar is like a father figure to me,” Conroy said. “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.”
Conroy’s hire seems to align with Romar’s stated goal of reestablishing the team’s culture in an attempt to return to its fast-paced, run-and-gun roots. Alongside Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons, Conroy helped launch the Huskies toward relevancy 10 years ago, and his toughness and attitude as a point guard have been lauded by fans ever since.
Romar hopes Conroy will bring the same mentality to the coaching staff -- an approach that many feel has been missing ever since Cameron Dollar left to become head coach at Seattle University -- and, despite his lack of experience, help breathe some life into a program that has missed the NCAA tournament in each of the past four seasons.
“We are thrilled to have Will Conroy join our basketball staff,” Romar said in a statement. “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.”
Said Conroy: “I can’t wait to start working with both the returning guys and our new group coming in. 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.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple