Eric Musselman left the Arizona State coaching staff on Apr. 7 to pursue other coaching opportunities. He brought NBA experience to the Sun Devils' basketball program in 2012 and remained at ASU for two years.
Replacing Musselman seemed to be a tough task but the right man for the job might have fallen right into the team's lap in former Indian Hills Community College head coach Barret Peery.
"The opportunity for me to come here and be a part of it was a neat opportunity for me and my family," Peery said. " We had a lot of success in Iowa but being from the West and living most of my life on the West coast this was a fun opportunity."
Peery's ties to Arizona State are closer than one might think. Stan Johnson, another Arizona State assistant coach, played under Peery when Peery was an assistant at Southern Utah from 1998-2002. He lead the T-Birds to a 25-6 record in the 2001-02 season when they made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The two men were also together at the University of Utah as assistant coaches for three years from 2008-11.
"I've gotten to know him (Peery) over the course of the past year or so in recruiting, watched his practices and talked with him on the phone and always came away really impressed," head coach Herb Sendek said. "We don't assemble a staff of specialists we assemble a staff of guys who have ownership in all aspects of the program and I think just like our other staff members 'B.P.' is the total package he does everything well."
Peery knows what it takes on the recruiting trail as well. He can replenish a program quickly because at the junior college level a high number of players leave for Division I schools every year. Peery is notorious for helping kids to the next level.
He sent 23 players to the Division I level in three years as head coach at the College of Southern Idaho from 2005-08 including all nine sophomores from his 2008 team. Peery also sent 15 players to Division I programs during his time at Indian Hills Community College from 2011 through this past season. Coming to Arizona State alongside Peery will be transfer forward Roosevelt Scott.
"Roosevelt is very active, high energy, great athlete and has a really good speed to his game. He shot the ball pretty well from three but really an energy-giving player at both ends of the floor," Peery said.
One of Peery's signings shows Arizona State fans that he can identify talent. The last player he signed to play at CSI was former Arizona State forward Carrick Felix who eventually starred for the Sun Devils, earned his masters degree and now comes off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA. Also on the CSI team which won the 2009 NJCAA national title after he left were Pierre Jackson who played for Baylor and Aziz N'Diaye who went on to play for the Washington Huskies.
"I think x and o's will always be important but I think in today's day in age what I've probably learned in my recent stops is the relationship with the guys having an understanding of who they are is important but trust is a huge issue," Peery said. "You've gotta be able to have a relationship with these guys now in order to be able to coach them and to produce the way you hope they can and see their potential."
Peery went 85-19 in his three seasons at the helm of CSI and led Indian Hills to a 93-11 mark in his time there leading the Warriors to an appearance in the national title game last season. Another impressive year for the Payson, Utah native came with his 2007-08 CSI squad which won the outright SWAC title in 2008 and finished with a record of (30-2, 14-1).
He also uses an uptempo style of play that Sendek has stated he wants to keep up despite Jahii Carson leaving for the NBA. Peery has already had some time to meet and workout with the current state of the ASU basketball team and is already looking forward to next season.
"I think coach has a great culture right here in these guys returning and their attitude coming back trying to be even better next year is very apparent," Peery said. " Their attitude towards working has been awesome."