By. Nick Smith
News of Sammy Duane Jr.’s departure from Corona del Sol high school yesterday stunned the Arizona sports world. It seems like no one saw the move coming and word began to spread before Duane had even finished telling his own players.
“Yesterday as I was finishing talking to my players, my phone started blowing up,” replied Duane when asked by Brad Cesmat about the reaction.
Speculation immediately began as to why Duane would leave the Corona job. Rumors flew that he would be the new assistant coach at Arizona State under Bobby Hurley, or that he was heading to Tucson to join Sean Miller’s University of Arizona staff. Hurley said that not only is none of it true, but even he doesn’t know exactly what his next step is.
“I never talked to Bobby Hurely,” said Duane. “I never talked with Sean Miller about a job. I don’t know what the future holds. I put a lot into coaching and needed to take a step back. Administration is something I want to explore. Sometimes you just need to look at other options.”
Duane isn’t leaving the cupboard bare at Corona. Although the team has won the last four straight state championships in division one, many believe that with sophomore Alex Barcello and freshman Marvin Bagley, their best years may be ahead of them. The two are among the highest ranked players in the nation and some wondered if a college staff might be looking to hire Duane in order to have a better shot at the pair when they graduated.
“I would never take a job and get hired to bring kids,” Duane said, quickly refuting the theory. “I’d want to be hired for my ability. I was once told that if you’re hired just to bring players, as soon as the players are gone, you’ll be looking for a job.”
As Duane leaves the coaching world he has inhabited for 24 years, he reflected on the historic run he had at Corona, noting how fortunate he was to have been part of the program.
“The hardest part was telling the players what I was going to do,” said Duane. “The players are awesome, the families are awesome, the parents have been truly great to me. I’m leaving here with a great feeling. I’m not shutting the door on every coaching again, but I’m closing the door on this chapter and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me.”