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Arizona assistant James Whitford hired as head coach at Ball State

Apr 6, 2013, 11:42 AM EDT

James Whitford AP

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Arizona associate head coach James Whitford has been introduced as the next head coach at Ball State, the school announced Saturday.

The vacancy was created when Ball State fired coach Billy Taylor on March 14 after six seasons and an 84-99 overall record.

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

Whitford has coached at Arizona for four seasons and came from Xavier, the same prior stop as head coach Sean Miller. Whitford was promoted to associate head coach after the 2010-11 season and is known as one of the high-level recruiters on the staff. He has helped to pull in a number of major classes for the Wildcats, including the 2013 edition that features top prospects Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon.

Prior to Whitford’s time at Xavier, he worked for 11 seasons at Miami (OH) and helped that program to a Sweet 16 appearance in 1999. He turned down an opportunity to become the head coach at that school following last season, deciding instead to remain at Arizona.

Ball State finished 15-15 this past season, including 8-8 in MAC play.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_