Former Arizona high school basketball product and former star guard Damin Lopez has had an interesting coaching run over the past year.
After a storied playing career at Apollo High School in the late 1980's and then helping his father David Lopez build a powerhouse basketball program at St. Mary's HS in the late 1990's and throughout the past decade, Lopez accepted a division-I assistant coaching position at his former college - the University of Pepperdine.
Lopez served four seasons as an assistant coach with the Waves before resigning in December 2011. Lopez left to return to his home state of Arizona, where he was announced as the head coach at Scottsdale Chaparral High School on Dec. 7, 2011. After a mere six months as the head coach at the program, Lopez was fired by the school district with no explanation as to why. Lopez was advised that it was a district decision to dismiss him. Lopez had less than one season leading the Chaparral program.
Lopez had took over a Chaparral HS program that had recently seen the resignation of former head coach Aaron Windler (recently hired as the head basketball coach at Mountain Pointe HS) just before the high school season began.
With the sudden departure of Windler, assistant coach Commander King took over as the interim, while Chaparral conducted a search for a permanent head coach. With star 6-foot-8 junior forward Joe Boyd out with an injury for most of the high school season, King would lead Chaparral to a 6-2 start, before Lopez would take over just before the Christmas break.
The team went 11-11 under Lopez and would reach the Division-I state playoffs, before losing to Sierra Vista's Buena HS in the first round of the Division-I state tournament.
After the recent firing by Chaparral, Lopez was asked to take over the helm at Glendale Junior College - a struggling basketball program that is looking to develop under the leadership of Glendale-native Damin Lopez. Lopez officially accepted the position as Glendale's new head coach on Thursday - replacing former Glendale JC head coach Dave Hodges who recently resigned.
Lopez advised me that he is looking to rebuild the program with Arizona players in the area and is excited about his new challenge, without looking back at the situation at Chaparral HS.
Look for Lopez to work hard at recruiting Arizona's best talent to the program and rebuilding the reputation of the school in the community.
Damin Lopez Coaching & Player Bio: Damin Lopez has demonstrated his passion for excellence as a high performing coach, business entrepreneur and top student athlete. Lopez played for his father at Apollo High School in Glendale, Ariz. As a 1998-89 senior he was named the Arizona Player of the Year by the Phoenix Gazette and the co-Player of the Year by the Arizona Republic after averaging 27.6 points.
Choosing a full scholarship at Pepperdine University over several high profile college offers, Damin proceeded to lead the Waves to 3 West Coast Conference Championships while earning his BS in Business Administration. Lopez spent five seasons (1990-94) at Pepperdine while Tom Asbury was the head coach. Lopez was the starting point guard his final three years and still ranks second all-time in three-pointers made (239) and seventh all-time in assists (363) at Pepperdine. He holds the school's records for three-pointers in a game (nine) and for percentage in a season (.472 in 1991-92). He was named to the All-WCC first team as a senior and was honorable mention as a sophomore. He also made the All-WCC Tournament team as a junior and senior.
He played in four games during the 1989-90 season before breaking a hand and taking a medical redshirt year. The Waves went to the postseason each of the next four seasons with Lopez back in the lineup, including the NCAA Tournament in 1991, 1992 and 1994 and the NIT in 1993. The Waves won three WCC regular-season titles and three WCC Tournaments during his tenure.
Since joining Pepperdine University as the Men's Basketball Assistant Coach in 2008, Damin was instrumental in recruiting the #1 recruiting class as pegged by Street and Smith, while also raising their team's GPA from 1.9 to 2.9.
Pepperdine hired Damin from St Mary's High School in Phoenix, where he'd progressed to Associate Head Coach. At St Mary's, Damin helped turn the school into the premier developer of basketball talent in Arizona, and propelled his students to achieve a cumulative 3.1 GPA. This after playing professionally in the Phoenix Suns Rookie League and with the Mexico City Aztecas. While assisting his father David at St. Mary's High School, the Lopez family developed the school into one of the premier programs in the state. St. Mary's has sent several players to college and the pros, most notably Channing Frye (Arizona/Phoenix Suns) and Jerryd Bayless (Arizona/Toronto Raptors).
In the 12 seasons that Damin was part of the St. Mary's staff, the school won the state title in 2001 and was part of five Final Fours and nine Elite Eights while winning or sharing the Desert Valley Region title seven times. The school competed in the largest school classification (5A) despite having an enrollment of only 800.
Damin applied this same winning attitude to building two multi-million dollar companies from scratch. He was President of Grupo Ñ Advertising, then as a Vice President at Julio Cesar Chavez Enterprises. But it was basketball that continued to inspire him, just as it had in college and high school.
As a coach, Damin focuses on a full-court, pressure style of basketball. He applies the same motivational skills and high-energy attitude to improving his student-athletes' academic performances. His leadership is based on a proven, player-oriented but disciplined approach to on and off court team management, development and success.