MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Jason Gardner, who coached the past two seasons at Loyola University, has been recommended to join the University of Memphis men's basketball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Josh Pastner said.
Gardner's hiring is pending approval of the University and Tennessee State Board of Regents.
"We're excited to welcome Jason to the Tigers basketball family," said Pastner. "Jason is an up-and-coming star in the collegiate coaching ranks. He learned a lot at Loyola from head coach Porter Moser, who is a Rick Majerus disciple. Jason is a great teacher of the game, especially his work with guards.
"Jason had one of the most-decorated playing careers in college basketball history. Jason is a winner, and he's proven that at every level in which he played and coached."
In Gardner's short two-year stint at the Chicago-based school, the Ramblers showed progress. Gardner helped Loyola to an eight-game improvement in the win column in 2012-13 (15-16 record) from the previous season (7-23 in 2011-12), the program's best since a 10-game increase from 2000-01 (7 wins) to 2001-02 (17 victories). Of Loyola's 16 setbacks in 2012-13, seven were by three or fewer points.
The Ramblers' progress was even more impressive considering Gardner and the Loyola staff were coaching the sixth-youngest squad in NCAA Division I basketball in 2012-13. Furthermore, the Ramblers had eight different players miss at least one contest as a result of injuries last season, and the eight players missed a combined 73 games.
Gardner's tutelage was also evident in his individual work with the Ramblers' players. For the second-straight season, Ben Averkamp garnered All-Horizon League second team honors, and the senior also became the program's first Capital One Academic All-American when he grabbed second team recognition. Sophomore Christian Thomas hiked his per-game output from 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 2011-12 to 12.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 2012-13. Furthermore, Devon Turk set a Loyola single-season freshman record for three-point field goals (65), senior Jordan Hicks led the Horizon League in three-point shooting in conference play, and Cully Payne was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List.
In his first season at Loyola in 2011-12, Gardner helped Averkamp develop into an All-Horizon League second team pick, becoming the Ramblers' first all-conference selection since 2006-07. In addition to Averkamp, five other returning players established career bests in scoring average.
Prior to Loyola, Gardner served for one season (2010-11) as an assistant at Cathedral High School in his hometown of Indianapolis, Ind.
Before moving over to the coaching ranks, Gardner was a standout professional player from 2003-11 in Europe, spending most of his time in Germany. In the 2008-09 season, he was named most valuable player of the German Basketball Bundesliga after leading Oldenburg to the German League Championship.
A 2003 University of Arizona graduate, Gardner put together one of the most illustrious careers in Wildcats basketball history. Gardner, who played at Arizona from 1999-2003, was a four-time All-America pick (earned a total of 12 All-America honors in his career), and also was named the 1999-2000 National Freshman of the Year and the 2002-03 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Player of the Year as a senior. Gardner had his jersey retired in 2005, becoming only one of four players in the program's history to be so honored.
One of four players in Pac-12 history to have 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals for a career, Gardner still holds Wildcats records for games played (136), starts (135) and minutes played (4,825). He had 31 games in which he played 40-plus minutes, and his 4,825 minutes played are the second-most in NCAA history (Kansas' Danny Manning holds record with 4,961 minutes played). Gardner finished his career as the program's highest-scoring guard (1,984 points), which also is the third-most in school history.
The Wildcats posted a 107-29 record (.787 winning percentage) during Gardner's career and earned NCAA Tournament berths all four seasons. The 2000-01 Wildcats - Gardner's sophomore season - advanced to the NCAA championship game.
Before his collegiate career, Gardner starred at North Central High School in Indianapolis. He was named the state of Indiana Mr. Basketball and also received McDonald's and Parade Magazine All-America recognition. Gardner helped lead the Panthers to the 1999 Indiana state championship.