Jim Saia Named USC Assistant Men's Basketball Coach

Sept. 20, 2004

Los Angeles - Jim Saia, previously an assistant coach at UCLA and a veteran of West Coast basketball, has been named an assistant with the USC men's basketball program, Trojan head coach Henry Bibby announced today.

'Jim comes to us with a lot of success under his belt,' said Bibby. 'He has been to five Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in his career. He has coached for some good coaches in Jim Harrick and Steve Lavin. I like guys who have been there, who have a lot of experience with winning. Jim has that quality and will help bring that winning attitude to our program.'

USC's assistant coaching staff is now comprised of Eric Brown, Bob Cantu and Saia. Former assistant Mike Johnson takes over duties as Director of Basketball Operations.

Saia, 40, came to USC after eight years (1996-2003) as an assistant coach at UCLA, where he helped the Bruinsadvance to an Elite Eight and five Sweet 16s appearances in his eight years in the program.

Saia's Bruin coaching successes carried over into recruiting, where his talents assisted UCLA in landing the nation's No. 1 (2001, 1998) and No. 2 (1997) ranked recruiting classes.

Before arriving at Westwood, Saia was the head coach at Columbia College, a junior college in Sonora, CA, from 1994-96. During his two-year head coaching career at Columbia, he led the Claim Jumpers to a 61-10 (87.0) overall record, two Central Valley Conference (CVC) championships and he earned two CVC Coach of the Year honors. In 1996, Columbia advanced to the Final Eight in State junior college play and ended the season ranked No. 3 with a 30-5 overall record. Saia's '95 club was rated No. 7 in the State and finished with an overall record of 31-5. His two-year conference mark was 25-3. Every sophomore on Saia's Columbia teams have graduated or pursued their education at a four-year college. When Saia took over the Columbia program in 1994, the Claim Jumpers had no returning starters and he only had six weeks to recruit a team. His 1994-95 squad, picked for last place in the coaches' preseason poll, finished with a 31-5 overall record.

Prior to his head coaching stint at Columbia, Saia was an assistant coach at the Div. I level for Gary Colson at Fresno State (1990-94, earning a Master's degree) in the Big West and Western Athletic Conferences, Tates Locke at Indiana State (1989-90) in the Missouri Valley Conference and Lou Campanelli at California (1988-89) in the Pacific-10 Conference. During his years at Fresno State, the Bulldogs in 1994 were 21-11 overall and advanced to the NIT and in 1991, FSU was runnerup in the Big West Tournament. While at Cal in 1989, the Golden Bears were 20-13 overall and also played in the NIT.

In 1994, Saia was head coach of the Athletes In Action USA team and in 1993 he coached AIA's Div. I summer tour squad. A respected clinician, Saia was director of the Fresno State Camp from 1990-94 and has toured the country lecturing at clinics about individual offensive and defensive skills.

As a player, Saia's basketball career began at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, CA. In 1981 and `82, Saia's junior and senior prep years and as a teammate of Bruin head coach Steve Lavin, Sir Francis Drake was 65-1 overall and won two California State championships. From 1982-84, he played at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and helped lead the Mustangs to a 20-win season. Saia spent the 1984-85 college season at College of Marin in Kentfield, CA, leading the Mariners to the State Tournament and earning All-Conference honors. He concluded his college career at Chapman University, again on the same squad with Lavin. From 1985-87 at Chapman, Saia earned Best Defensive Player and Coaches Awards.

Born June 15, 1964 in San Francisco, Saia is single.

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