Former Mater Dei student returns to OC after international basketball coaching career

By Dan Arritt     8/17/2017

Reggie Geary is back in the United States after spending the past six years coaching professional basketball in Japan.

Players like him never really leave Mater Dei, however.

Their achievements stick around in the record books, their team photos hang in prime spots in the coaches’ office, and their names are regularly mentioned among the all-time greats in scarlet and gray.

Geary certainly belongs within that special group.

He averaged 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists during his senior season at Mater Dei in 1991-92, and was named the best player in Orange County and CIF-SS Division I.

He capped his legacy by leading the Monarchs to a 34-2 record his senior year and a berth in the 1992 CIF-State Division I championship game. He finally met his match against Jason Kidd, a future 10-time NBA All Star who led St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda to the 59-37 victory in the state title game.

Geary went on to have an impressive career at the University of Arizona in which he was named the Wildcats’ best defender all four years by his teammates.

He then played professionally for eight years, including two in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers (1996-97) and San Antonio Spurs (1997-98).

His last four years as a player took him to Israel, Portugal, France and the Ukraine. After retirement, he began transitioning into coaching, first as the recruiting and basketball operations coordinator at Arizona, where he worked under his college coach, the legendary Lute Olson.

He then spent 18 months as head coach of the Anaheim Arsenal of the NBA Development League before returning to Arizona as an assistant in 2008.

Just like when he played, Geary’s love of the game drove him to look for coaching opportunities overseas. He saw a golden one in Japan.

“Growing the game I love was my main goal in coming to Japan and I take great pride in the fact I believe I did that,” Geary recently told The Japan Times.

In his first season with Yokohama B-Corsairs in 2011-12, he was named coach of the year. The next year, Geary became the first foreign-born coach to win the league championship.

He then coached the Chiba Jets from an 18-36 mark in 2013-14 to a 34-20 record the following season and a berth in the playoffs. He moved over to the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins the next two seasons and orchestrated similar success.

After the season ended this past May, Geary decided to return to the U.S. and look for opportunities back home.

“My six years in Japan were very special for my family and myself,” Geary said. “We had the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with so many incredible people in and around the game of basketball, and I had the opportunity to lead three organizations in different stages of transition successfully with on-court success and player and staff development.”

For the time being, Geary has returned to his college roots.

He helped run an NBA combine-style basketball camp in Tucson from Aug 18-20, and has been hired as a camp instructor at the inaugural Lute Olson Fantasy Basketball Camp in Tucson from Sept. 7-10.

It’s safe to assume if Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight ever decides to step down, Geary would have the qualifications to take his place.

After all, players like Geary never really leave Mater Dei.