New UCLA Bruins head coach Mick Cronin’s coaching staff continues to take shape as, today, UCLA and Cronin announced the hiring of Rod Palmer as an assistant coach.
Palmer should be a familiar name to Bruin fans for a few reasons. The biggest, of course, would be the fact that he used to play for the Bruins, playing from 1985-1987 before transferring and finishing out his season at UC Irvine. Before joining the collegiate coaching ranks, Palmer was a prolific coach in the LA high school scene, coaching at Compton High School from 1993 to 1997 before coaching at Centennial High School from 1998 to 2007. Under Palmer, Centennial secured a CIF State championship in 2006 and was a state finalist in 2004. More importantly, Palmer is the former high school coach of UCLA standout Arron Afflalo.
During his introductory press conference, Cronin mentioned that his new coaching staff would have to have some West Coast flair and they’re certainly getting that with Palmer. His entire basketball career, both playing and coaching, is almost exclusively centered around Southern California and you would have to assume that he possesses connections with a host of high school programs around the area. One group that has to be happy with this hiring is the Compton Magic, as Magic founder Etop Udo-Ema has deep connections to Palmer from having been former teammates while at UCI to roommates while Palmer was coaching at Compton High to Udo-Ema being the best man at Palmer’s wedding.
From when it started in 1989 as Rod transferred from UCLA to UCI where I was a Freshman to becoming roommates after College to taking the Compton High job in 1993 to Best Man in his Wedding to Building the Compton Magic to reaching his goals in coaching. Love U Boi @RodPalmerUCLA pic.twitter.com/hhKb1N0ikd— Etop Udo-Ema (@EtopUdoEma) May 2, 2019
I haven’t seen enough of Palmer’s coaching ability to make a concrete statement one way or another about how good of a hire this is on that front, but from a recruiting standpoint, this seems like a solid move. Only one assistant coaching spot left to fill.
Welcome back to Westwood, Coach Palmer!