Interview With Josh Pastner
September 15, 2008
Memphis Assistant Basketball Coach Josh Pastner’s success can easily be attributed to this quote:
PASTNER: “I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself when I have some down time or some free time, because I’m just not used to relaxing.”
The son of legendary Houston AAU Basketball Coach Hal Pastner, Josh was eager to succeed in his father’s profession once he could start dribbling a basketball.
While many of his middle school classmates were learning how to run a basic motion offense, Pastner created the Josh Pastner Scouting Service, a 100-page yearly annual, at just 13 years old.
PASTNER: “I was doing the Josh Pastner Scouting Service at 13. Some coaches loved it. I was sending it out to all the schools in the country just because I wanted to get my name out there and I also enjoyed doing it.”
“I enjoyed going to these national tournaments and AAU national events. After our team was done playing, I liked to watch the other teams and follow these kids when they are younger. So early on, I was on the kids who would be good.”
In High School, Pastner was named the Head Coach of the AAU Houston Hoops team which he also played for. He handled travel, hotel arrangements, pregame planning, and strategy decisions.
Pastner signed a basketball scholarship in 1996 to play for the University of Arizona. He was a little-used reserve on the 1996-97 Arizona Wildcat Championship team.
Pastner played sparingly for four years at Arizona. Having scouted basketball since middle school, he was realistic about his level of athletic talent.
PASTNER: “I was going to give all the effort that I could possibly give to play at that highest level, but there’s limitations. I just was not good enough to play in the NBA or professionally overseas, so I always said to myself, ‘the next best thing to playing is coaching’ and I channeled a lot of my efforts and energies towards that goal.”
Pastner also channeled his efforts in the classroom. He graduated in 2 1/2 years, the earliest ever by a University of Arizona athlete.
He did not enter the University with any college credit nor did he take any classes during Summer semesters.
Most semesters, he took 21-24 hours of classes while also fulfilling his responsibilities as an athlete.
Unbelievably, Pastner took 33 hours of classes the Fall semester of his Junior season to complete his degree in Family Studies.
PASTNER: “I got little sleep. I don’t recommend it, but I did make sure to exercise to keep sane.”
One year later, he earned his Master’s Degree while still in his Senior year of basketball eligibility.
Immediately after the 1999-2000 season, Lute Olson hired Pastner as a video/recruiting coordinator and administrative assistant.
When Assistant Coach Jay John left to take the Oregon State Head Coaching position in April 2002, Pastner replaced him.
He remained on the Arizona staff until May 2008, when he accepted an Assistant Coach position for the Memphis Tigers.
PASTNER: “It’s a whatever Coach [Calipari] wants me to do type deal. Whatever he says. I’m the type of guy who will do what they want me to do. If it’s sweeping the floors, I’m on it.”
Pastner is already on the road recruiting, looking at High School prospects from the Classes of 2009 to 2012.
PASTNER: “At Memphis, you’re selling John Calipari, one of the great coaches in the game today and is going to be a future Hall of Famer.”
Once practice begins, he will assume floor and gameplanning responsibilities as well.
Even though Pastner can spend as many as 18 hours a day working, he shows no signs of burnout from his profession.
PASTNER: “I’ve always loved the game of basketball. I didn’t have a chance to play in the NBA, and I blame that on my parents because they blessed me with poor athletic skills. I figured the next best thing to playing is coaching.”