Three products of Arizona Wildcats program head coaches in Las Vegas NBA Summer League


Three former members of the Arizona Wildcats program Bret Brielmaier (left), Jesse Murmuys (center) and Luke Walton are head coaches in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League

Three former members of the Arizona Wildcats program Bret Brielmaier (left), Jesse Mermuys (center) and Luke Walton are head coaches in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League

First Steve Kerr coaching Golden State to the NBA title last month and now this?

Three more Lute Olson proteges are serving as head coaches for their respective organizations in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas: Luke Walton with Golden State, Bret Brielmaier with Cleveland and Jesse Mermuys with Toronto.

Brielmaier coached against Walton on Friday night in Golden State’s 83-75 victory over Cleveland at the Thomas & Mack Center. Brielmaier played for Olson from 2004-08 after Walton’s run from 1999-2003.

Mermuys, 35, is the least recognized out of the group, but he is well-known in basketball circles in Tucson.

The Salpointe Catholic grad was Arizona’s director of basketball operations from 2006-08. He then worked with the Denver Nuggets for four seasons, the first as a video coordinator in 2008-09. After two seasons as an advance scout, Mermuys was elevated by then-Nuggets coach George Karl to be an assistant in 2011-12.

Mermuys was a member of Kevin McHale’s staff in Houston in 2012-13, serving as assistant coach and director of player development. He gave former Rockets guard Jeremy Lin an Arizona shirt and took this photo with him:


Mermuys, a Toronto assistant the last two seasons, and fellow Tucsonan Dan Tolzman were named this week as the Raptors’ D-League coach and general manager, respectively. Tolzman, a Sabino High School grad, will continue his duties as Toronto’s director of player personnel while serving as GM for Raptors 905.

Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

Bret Brielmaier receiving instruction from Lute Olson during a game against Stanford in 2006

Brielmaier, only 27, was a walk-on at Arizona who played for the Wildcats because he wanted to learn how to coach under Olson.

Cleveland head coach David Blatt, who oversaw the Cavs summer league roster last season, gave the head coaching duties in Las Vegas this year to Brielmaier.

Brielmaier joined the Cleveland coaching staff in July 2013 after four years with the San Antonio Spurs. He told me three years ago in Las Vegas that he wanted to start his career with the Spurs to learn under Gregg Popovich.

He got his start in the NBA during the 2009-10 season as the Spurs player development assistant before being promoted to video coordinator for the 2010-11 season, a job he held until joining the Cavs.

Brielmaier told the Cavaliers’ Web site that he is “very honored to (have) the franchise give me the reins for this … we have a really good group to coach and a great staff.”

Walton served as an assistant under Kerr this season during the Warriors’ title run. He is coaching Golden State’s NBA Summer League team with former Arizona player Bruce Fraser as an assistant. Fraser was also part of Kerr’s staff this season.

Luke Walton and Lute Olson together in a 2001 game at UCLA publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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