UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin has found the “West Coast flavor” he said he was seeking on his staff, hiring San Diego State’s Rod Palmer as an assistant.
A native of Los Angeles who starred at Compton Dominguez High and played for the Bruins for two seasons, Palmer has spent the last 25 years coaching in Southern California. He rose from high school head coaching positions at Compton and Compton Centennial to assistant roles at Long Beach State and San Diego State.
“Coach Palmer comes highly recommended from his peers and has the most important quality that I seek in coaches — that he cares about his players,” Cronin said in a statement. “He is someone I have had in mind throughout this process because of his strong ties within Southern California. He knows what a special place UCLA is, and he’s extremely excited to be back in Westwood.”
During his 11 seasons at Long Beach State, Palmer helped the 49ers reach the 2012 NCAA tournament and win three Big West Conference regular-season titles. He moved to San Diego State before last season, when the Aztecs went 21-13.
Palmer coached former UCLA standout Arron Afflalo during his nine seasons at Centennial, which included a state championship.
Palmer grew up in a basketball-crazed family, with his sister Violet becoming one of the NBA’s first female referees. Rod played for UCLA from 1985-87, helping the Bruins win the 1987 Pac-10 Conference championship and the first-ever Pac-10 tournament title. Palmer completed his college career at UC Irvine.
“Returning as a coach,” Palmer said in a statement, “I want to help coach Cronin and the Bruins’ program to build upon that incredible winning tradition.”
Cronin previously hired Darren Savino, his longtime assistant at Cincinnati, on his staff. The Bruins have one more opening to fill.