A closer look at Josh Pastner

Josh Pastner may be the most famous twelfth-man in the history of college basketball. He may also have the highest winning percentage of any player in the history of college basketball. Although he averaged less than a point a game over the course of his four year career, the Wildcats were 42-0 in games that he played. Now he joins one of the most respected coaching staffs in college basketball.

Pastner traded in his spot at the end of Lute Olson's bench for a seat much closer to Olson. He handed in his uniform, and became an undergraduate assistant coach for the Wildcats. After Jay John became head coach at Oregon State Pastner was hired on as the newest Wildcat assistant coach.

Every move Pastner has made since he was thirteen years old has been in an effort to be a college basketball coach. He has put in hundreds of hours of hard work to be in the position he is now and he knows that is just a start.

"Eventually you want to be a head coach," Pastner said. "That's what all of the assistants want to do. That's my eventual goal. I would love to have the opportunity to one day come here and be the head coach at Arizona. It's my Alma mater. I'm also a realist too. Wherever I'm at, if I'm fortunate to get a head job someday, I want to make the most of it."

As Josh Pastner has pursued his dreams of being a college basketball coach, he has attained near mythic status around the program. The funny thing is most of the stories are true.

The incredible rise of Pastner's reputation began when he was thirteen years old. At that time Pastner started his own college recruiting scouting service. The not-so-cleverly titled "Josh Pastner Scouting Service" was Pastner's first introduction to College coaches.

"At all these summer tournaments, and AAU tournaments, I'd just sit in the gyms and scout games," Pastner said. "I'd be the first one in and the last one out and just compile lists of players."

Pastner sent his evaluations to every coach in Division I and  met with great results.

"I got numerous calls from colleges to subscribe to my service. I told them I was just a 13 year old kid just trying to get my name out."

At the same time Pastner was coaching with the Houston Hoops, the AAU summer team created by his father.

"There's no substitute for experience," Pastner said "I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from my mistakes at the highest level of HS basketball."

He was a good, but not great high school player in Kingwood, Texas, and once again began a letter writing campaign to garner the attention of college coaches.

"When I was looking for a college before my senior year I sent a letter to every college coach in America. Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA Division I, NAIA Division II school in America. I personalized every letter. I sent out over a thousand letters. The only one to respond back seriously was Arizona."

Pastner came to Arizona where he played a limited role on the 1997 championship team. All the while he became a sponge for knowledge both in the classroom and on the hardwood.

"I'm in a situation now at Arizona where I'm learning from one of the best coaches to ever coach the game. I'm learning form three great assistants. I've been lucky to learn from the best. I've learned from some great assistants like Jesse Evans, Phil Johnson, Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, and Jay John. Just that alone has allowed me to rise to another level of coaching. So I'm in a situation where I'm learning, learning, learning."

In addition to learning the art of coaching, Pastner was earning a college degree. While most Arizona undergraduates - even those without the pressures of big time college basketball - take five years to earn a degree, Pastner earned his in a scant 3 ½ years. He took upwards of 33 units in a semester, but was still named to the GTE Academic All-American team.

Oh yeah, he earned his masters in just one year, and was working on his doctorate before NCAA regulations made him return to undergraduate course work in conjunction with his newfound coaching position.

So how does Pastner cram so much into one day?

" I only sleep about 3 or 4 hours a night," Pastner claims. "Everyday you wake up above ground is a great day. Life is so precious, why waste your life sleeping? I never used an alarm clock, I get up around 4:30 or 5:00."

Before getting the assistant coaching job Pastner did almost everything you could do for the program. He was everything from a pseudo-coach to a regular guy-Friday.

"I've done it all," Pastner said. "I've done it all from picking up lunch to breaking down film.

Coach Olson and the assistants treated me like gold. I'm always asking questions."

There are a number of stories around town about Pastner. Most of them are true.

Pastner applied for the Los Angeles Clippers head-coaching job—WHILE HE WAS STILL A PLAYER.

"Absolutely," Pastner said. "I applied for it both times it was open."

Another rumor has it that Pastner has never had a soda, much less alcohol and drugs.

"I've never had a sip of a carbonated drink in my life. Never had Sprite, a Coke, or a Pepsi. I don't know what any of that stuff tastes like. My parents never gave it to me when I was young. Nothing religious, they just never gave it to me. When I got older I thought what a neat fact that I've never had soda. Never had a cigarette, never had coffee, and never had Ice Tea. Never had a sip of alcohol. Never had a drug, and I never will do any of that stuff."

Pastner is one of the most positive people you will come across, and it comes through in his outlook on life.

"Life is so precious and so short," Pastner said. "Never take it for granted. It's all a matter of attitude. When you wake up you have two choices. You can say ‘I am going to have a great day' or you can say ‘I am going to have a bad day.' I get up and clap my hands. I'm alive and living, and I've got everything working. I'm thankful for that."

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