Arizona’s International Roster Comes Together Through Basketball

While Lloyd was there, Gonzaga brought in players from every continent except Antarctica.

He has never counted exactly how many countries he has visited, but he estimates it is at least 50. His favorite international trip was to Crete for the 2019 World Schools Championship. He was able to take his family, including his son, Liam, who played for Grand Canyon University this season, and daughters, Sofia and Maria.

His most arduous travel, though, came during a trip to Paris when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted in 2010.

“I was stuck over there for a week,” he said. “Had a bunch of flights canceled, crowded trains, rental cars, and we survived. Got a couple of players on that trip.”

Though Lloyd deflected several job feelers over the years, he said the Arizona fit was a natural — particularly because the Wildcats’ roster was already stocked with internationals. He inherited six holdovers who had been recruited by Miller: Mathurin, Koloko, Kriisa, Pelle Larsson from Sweden (who speaks Swedish and English) and the Tubelis brothers. Ballo followed Lloyd to Arizona from Gonzaga, and the coach also imported Adama Bal from France. He speaks French, English and Wolof.

Lloyd was familiar with the Arizona holdovers and credited that with helping him retain them.

“That’s the one thing people don’t talk about in college basketball today,” Lloyd said. “Especially last year was the first year that you get a job, everybody’s a free agent. Everybody can transfer and play right away. There’s no waiver needed. You had to really go in and re-recruit.”

There was no full-court press needed to retain Mathurin, who was familiar with Lloyd’s work.

“I watched a lot of games when he was at Gonzaga, and just the players he brought through his program and the style of play he’s playing,” Mathurin said. “I feel it was a great fit to me as well and to the international players on my team.”

Azuolas Tubelis said: “It was easy for me because he is easy to understand and he understands me. So we are just on the same page every time.”