James Whitford has been a mainstay on Sean Miller's staff for seven seasons, having made the move to Tucson in the spring of 2009. His tireless efforts as a recruiter and his defensive expertise are key components to the Wildcat coaching staff.
He was promoted to associate head coach following the 2010-11 season. Whitford's primary responsibilities for the staff are recruiting coordination, post player development and defensive coordination.
As recruiting coordinator, Whitford has helped Coach Miller pull in three consecutive nationally ranked classes, including the 2012 class that was ranked third nationally.
While working with the post players, Whitford has overseen the growth of some impressive young talent, spotlighted by the rise of Derrick Williams from a borderline top-100 prospect to the second overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. Williams arguably was the most improved player in the country during his two seasons at Arizona.
Whitford's defensive prowess continues to be a point of pride, as the 2011-12 squad limited opponents to an average of 62.7 points per game in 35 outings, the lowest scoring defense figure for the program since 1985-86. Further, Arizona held 12 opponents to less than 60 points in 2011-12.
As the Wildcats rolled to the 2011 Pac-10 regular season championship and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, UA saw its defensive numbers improve dramatically, as the opposition's scoring average and three-point field goal percentage dropped by nearly four points each. UA's .293 three-point field goal percentage defense figure ranked fifth nationally and was the lowest in program history.
It continues a positive trend for the Wildcats defense, as the squad has allowed fewer points per game in each of the last three seasons: 72.0 ppg in 2009-10, 67.9 ppg in 2010-11 and 62.7 ppg in 2011-12.
Whitford spent four seasons at Xavier (2005-09), helping the Musketeers amass a 103-35 (.746) record, three Atlantic-10 Conference championships, one A-10 tournament title and four NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2007-08 XU squad advanced to the West Regional Final.
Prior to his tenure in Cincinnati, Whitford spent 11 seasons on the staff at Miami University (Ohio) for Charlie Coles, the last eight as the top assistant. In that span, the RedHawks won better than 60 percent of its games (201-130), captured the 2004-05 Mid-American Conference championship and advanced to the 1999 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.
Whitford's first two seasons in Oxford, Ohio, were as an administrative assistant in 1994-95 and 1995-96. He became a full-time assistant on Coles's staff in 1997 and was promoted to the top assistant in June 1998. All told, he was a part of three NCAA Tournament appearances (1995, '97, '99), two NIT berths (1996, 2005) and four MAC regular-season championships (1995, '97, '99, 2005) while at Miami.
Whitford, 41, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He served as a manager for the Badger men's basketball program for three seasons. Arizona head coach Sean Miller was an assistant coach for Wisconsin during the 1992-93 campaign, Whitford's junior season at UW.
A native of Madison, Wis., Whitford and his wife, Amber, have two sons, Liam and Spencer. Amber was an assistant coach with the Xavier women's basketball team.