Former North Central basketball star Jason Gardner is returning to Indianapolis as head coach of the IUPUI men's basketball team.
Gardner, who was named Mr. Basketball in 1999, was an assistant at Memphis and Loyola before being named the eighth head coach in Jaguars history Monday.
"We had an incredibly deep and talent rich candidate pool," IUPUI Athletics Department and Director of Athletics Michael Moore said. "At the end of the day, all signs pointed to Jason. He's a known commodity in terms of his ability to recruit quality student-athletes. He's known as a tireless worker and has an incredible passion for teaching the game of basketball. His ties to Indianapolis made him even more attractive as a candidate and we look forward to him being the face of IUPUI basketball for many years to come."
Gardner finished his high school career with 1,669 points and was twice named the Gatorade Circle of Champions Indiana Player of the Year. His senior year, he led the Panthers to the Class 4A state championship.
"I'm looking forward to being back home and getting my first (head) coaching opportunity. I'm truly excited for the opportunity," Gardner said. "Other than playing basketball, I always knew I wanted to be a coach. It keeps you around the game of basketball and allows you the opportunity to help young men on and off the court. There are a lot of kids in the area that come from a winning heritage and we want to give them the chance to succeed within our program.
"This is a great situation for me and my family to be back in Indianapolis. I want to win and I want us to win the right way. That's the goal. More than anything, I'm just excited about getting started and moving forward."
In college, Gardner was a four-year All-American at Arizona and was named the Naismith National Player of the Year in 2003. He then played professionally overseas for more than eight years, mostly in Germany.
Gardner will be formally introduced at a public press conference Wednesday (April 2) at 2 p.m. at the IUPUI Campus Center.