Mesa Community College men’s basketball assistant Mike Grothaus will be the next coach at Basha.
Grothaus has been with the Firebirds since the 2008-09 season and was previously a graduate assistant at Grand Canyon University.
He won a state championship as a player at Gilbert in 2003 before playing collegiately at Jamestown (N.D.) College and Grand Canyon.
This will be his first head coaching gig, but athletic director Brent Rincon said Grothaus has worked under some of the state’s best coaches and deserves the shot.
“We’re very happy to have him,” Rincon said. “He brings great passion and enthusiasm for the game. He’s been mentored by probably some of the greatest basketball coaches this state has ever produced in Tom Bennett and Royce Youree. We feel very fortunate to get him and look forward to a long, long career with Mr. Grothaus at Basha.”
Grothaus will teach physical education at the school beginning in July. He plans to meet with the team on Friday afternoon.
He said the timing and opportunity felt right for his first foray into head coaching.
“Working with Sam (Ballard) the last five years, he really let me do more than an assistant should,” Grothaus said. “It was a phenomenal experience. This opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t say no.”
It has been a tumultuous calendar year for the Bears. Brad Pinter was forced to resign after 2011-12 when a team with state title aspirations underachieved. High-profile stars Torren Jones and Jaron Hopkins transferred following the hire of former Mesquite and Highland coach John Burns, and Basha went just 9-18 this season. Burns resigned at the end of the season and will coach at Columbia (Mo.) Battle next year.
The Bears have been a perennially strong program, and return four of their top five leading scorers, including Nathan Markovich (13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals). Basha must replace Virginia Tech-bound Maurice Kirby, who averaged 15.6 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
“The pieces are in place,” Grothaus said. “I think coach Burns did a good job there. It’s going to be fun to get in there and work hard.”