From 1999 to 2003, Jason Gardner was a model of consistency for the Arizona basketball program. By the time his career was finished, Gardner was a Second-team All-American and a player that earned his jersey retirement in 2005.
Gardner was not drafted into the NBA, but was able to go to Europe and have plenty of success. He has played in Slovenia, Israel, and Belgium.
In the 2008-09 season, Gardner was named MVP of the German Basketball Bundesliga, averaging nearly 14 points, four assists, and three rebounds.
After the last season, Gardner decided it was time to return home to Indianapolis, where he was considered to be one of the top high school players and led North Central High School to a state championship.
Gardner is currently the JV coach at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, as he attempts to have success in a different area of the sport he has grown to love.
"Basically I decided to not go back to Europe in mid-August and then ended up talking to my former high school coach," Gardner said. "He put me in contact with college coaches and told me what route to go."
That route led him to the University of Indiana, which helped catapult him into the opportunity that he longed for.
"I wound up back at Indiana for a month and a half with Tom Crean taking notes, meeting, listening and watching and then Cathedral's JV guy basically got promoted.
"I was then asked if I wanted the JV job and I thought it would be cool and told the head coach I would love to have it and that is where I am at now."
Gardner does not shy away from the fact that he would like to eventually be a college coach and while the high school experience is a bit different than what he is used to, Gardner says that he is still enjoying himself.
"I am having fun in high school," Gardner said. "I have never been around and coached at the college level and my goal is definitely to become a head coach."
Gardner may not be on the court competing any more, but has taken an approach that still allows him to be competitive.
"I approach it that I am going against the other coach as far as making adjustments and always having to kind of be ready for whatever and counter what he does," Gardner said. "It is kind of fun because I am not out there playing against him, but there is definitely a competitive aspect."
While coaching is a full-time job, Gardner has had the opportunity to follow the current Wildcats and is happy with their success.
"I follow quite a bit," he said. "I think they are doing well. Sean Miller is in his second year, so in two years besides the last two losses they were on a big winning streak. I think that's big.
"It is hard to try to hurry up putting in your style of play and turning around a program and getting recruits that fit. You have to convince kids that you are a good coach and this is what we are going to do. He has done a great job with the team and program and they have some athletic NBA type of guys as well."
One player in particular that Gardner is impressed with is Derrick Williams. Williams may enter the NBA early due to his high draft position, and Gardner is a bit mixed when it comes to making that decision.
"I am kind of 50-50," Gardner said about leaving early. "There are a lot of people I have known that have left college early and did not pan out and guys that should have left and stayed and did not pan also."
If Williams does leave early, Gardner feels that he has to be fully dedicated to making sure he handles his decision correctly.
"I am more that whenever you decide to go, you have to go all for it," Gardner said. "You can't wish you had another year. When you decide that you want to decide to NBA, you have to go full force with working and getting the right agent and then there is no looking back."
Gardner goes home
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