Arizona assistant Whitford takes Ball State job

Ball State hired Arizona associate head coach James Whitford as its new basketball coach Saturday.

Whitford had spent the past four years at UA under Sean Miller. Before coming to Tucson, he spent four seasons on Miller’s staff

at Xavier, and he also worked

for 11 seasons at Miami (Ohio) before being hired at Xavier.

“James Whitford is a winner,” Miller said in a statement released by Ball

State. “He has won championships at every level (he) has coached, including

the Mid-American Conference. He has also been the integral part of

four Sweet 16 teams over the past six seasons at Xavier and here at the

University of Arizona.”

The 41-year-old Whitford has been described by Miller as a tireless worker and relentless recruiter. He most recently had been working with Arizona’s big men, including former All-American Derrick Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

“In my mind, Ball State offers the best combination of academic excellence, basketball tradition and an outstanding arena and fan support of any sport in the Mid-American Conference,” Whitford said through Ball State. “When you add the unparalleled recruiting base of the state of Indiana and the great teaching those high school players receive from their various coaches, this job is one I targeted over the last few weeks.”

Whitford replaces Billy Taylor, who was fired last month after going 15-15 in his sixth season at Ball State.

The school said Whitford will be introduced Wednesday.