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Former Wildcat star Damon Stoudamire expressed mixed feelings about leaving Memphis for an expected return to his alma mater as an assistant coach.
While Stoudamire has not returned repeated messages from the Star - and UA has not announced a hiring - Stoudamire told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that he's indebted to Memphis coach Josh Pastner for hiring him two years ago and was "kind of numb" about leaving the university and community of Memphis.
Stoudamire not only coached under Pastner for the past two seasons but played and coached for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
"It still seems so surreal," Stoudamire told the Commercial-Appeal.
"I've been entrenched in the city of Memphis for the last eight or nine years."
At the same time, Stoudamire said he looked forward to returning to Tucson.
"It's just a great opportunity for me to go back to a place where I had great success as a player, and now to try to go back and have great success as a coach and just kind of add to where they're already at," Stoudamire told the Commercial-Appeal. "It's been a great program for years and they've got a chance to do some great things."
Stoudamire told the Memphis newspaper that it wasn't easy to tell either Pastner or the Tigers players that he was leaving. He said most of the players he called to tell on Sunday understood and thanked him but that he found it especially tough to inform Pastner.
It was Pastner who hired Stoudamire two years ago when the assistant had also been a candidate for a vacancy at UA that Joe Pasternack eventually filled.
"The conversation I had to have with Josh - that was probably the toughest conversation that I had to have in my life, in terms of telling somebody that I was leaving, because I have respect for him for a lot of things," Stoudamire told the Commercial-Appeal. "He hired me when nobody else wanted to hire me. That's big to me and, like I said, I'll forever be indebted to him."
Stoudamire, 39, played 13 years in the NBA before beginning an administrative and coaching career in 2008.
He spent the 2008-09 season as a player development director at Rice, then two seasons with the Grizzlies and the past two with the Tigers.
Hill invited to combine
Former Arizona Wildcats forward Solomon Hill has been invited to the NBA's draft combine to be held in Chicago next week, Hill said via a UA spokesman.
Hill drew criticism from NBA scouting operations director Ryan Blake for not participating last month in Portsmouth, but he was the highest-rated prospect invited to the seniors-only camp.
The more-prestigious Chicago combine is open to seniors and early entrants. The NBA invited 61 players for its combine last year, which is one more than the total number of spots in the NBA Draft.
Former UA guard Mark Lyons was not invited, but he played in Portsmouth and players there are often not brought to Chicago because they have been seen and measured already.
It is not known whether former UA forward Grant Jerrett or former guard Josiah Turner were invited to Chicago. Jerrett opted to turn professional after one season last month, while Turner played in Canada last season after spending the 2011-12 season at Arizona.
UA to open vs. Cal Poly
Arizona has finalized a deal to play Cal Poly for its Nov. 8 season opener at McKale Center, according to UA basketball operations director Ryan Reynolds.
The Mustangs of San Luis Obispo, Calif, finished third in the Big West Conference last season behind Long Beach State and Pacific with a record of 12-6.
They were 18-14 overall and 12-1 at home, finishing the season with a loss to Weber State in the Collegeinsider.com tournament.
UA has two nonconference games remaining to be finalized next year. Both are expected to be one-time home games.
Contact Bruce Pascoe at 573-4145 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brucepascoe