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November 3, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Catching up with former Husky Grant Leep

grant leep.jpg
No one is pushing Lorenzo Romar out the door, but if you had to compile a list of his replacements in 10-15 years, Grant Leep (right) may deserve consideration.
Currently he’s the lead assistant at Seattle Pacific under coach Ryan Looney. He’s also a four-year UW letter-winner (1999-02) and captain of the 2002 team, which was the last season for Bob Bender.
As a senior, Leep averaged a career-best 7.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a starter at small forward. He led the Pac-10 Conference in three-point field goal percentage that season, converting 52.7 percent (39-of-74), which is still a Washington record. He also holds the school record for career three-point shooting at 42.9 percent (60-of-14).
Leep, 32, begins his 10th year as a college assistant and he’s considered one of the bright, young coaches in the Pacific Northwest.
Romar, who enters his 10th year at UW and turns 53 this month, has said he doesn’t plan to coach into his twilight years. So let’s say he bolts on his terms when he’s 65 after his 22nd season.
Okay you’re the Washington athletic director, it’s 2024 and you have to find a men’s basketball coach. The list of Romar replacements with ties to UW and the Seattle-area may include Leep and several other young prospects. Here’s a possible list:
Paul Fortier, former Husky (1983-86) and UW assistant
Cameron Dollar, former UW assistant (2002-09) and Seattle University coach.
Curtis Allen, former Husky (2001-03) and Washington State assistant.
Jamelle McMillan, former O’Dea High standout, Arizona State player and Drake director of basketball operations.
Matt Logie, former Mercer Island High star, ex-Lehigh associate head coach and Whitworth coach.
Quin Snyder, former Mercer Island High star, former Missouri coach and Los Angeles Lakers assistant.
Will Conroy, former Husky (2002-05).
Leep laughed when asked if he has any interest in coaching the Huskies, but quickly warmed to the idea. As much as he adores Washington, the Falcons assistant won’t have any conflicting emotions Friday when the UW plays SPU in an exhibition.
Here’s the transcript of a recent interview with Leep.


(What have you been up to lately?) “I started coaching immediately when I got done playing. I spent one year at North Seattle Community College. Eric Hughes was a UW assistant when I was playing and he got the Spokane Community College job so I spent two years working for him out in Spokane. Then at that time a position opened on the staff at Eastern Washington. I spent two years there under Mike Burns and survived the coaching change and coached two years when Kirk Earlywine was there. At that point an opportunity opened up to come back this way to Seattle Pacific. So I’ve been coaching every since I got done and I’ve been fortunate enough to make that a life for me.”
(When did you know you wanted to get into coaching?) “It really hit me my sophomore year, I guess it would have been the 1999-2000 season. I sprained my knee and I couldn’t practice for an extended period. Just being able to watch the game, it helped me improve as a player but it also lit that fire of wanting to coach. At that point I figured out what I wanted to do so when I got done playing I got into coaching. There’s so many different ways to get into it. There’s no one right way or a certain blueprint to follow to get started in the business. So I went and talked to coach Bender and asked if he had any suggestions to how to start doing it. He recommended starting at the junior college level because you get to do everything. You get to go out and recruit. You have to wear so many different hats. So that was a good way to start.”
(Fifteen years from now, would you want to be the head coach at Washington?) “Wow. [Laughs] That would be great. I grew up in Mount Vernon. Grew up wanting to be a Husky. Always a Husky fan. I played there. Met my wife (former UW standout volleyball player Allison Richardson) there. We have a strong connection to that university and we have a lot of great memories from there. If that ended up happening somewhere down the line, great. Again, I have a very strong connection to that university and a ton of fond memories there.”
(What’s your favorite UW memory?) “Winning at Oregon was really, really fun. My freshman year was the second of the two consecutive NCAA tournament runs. Playing with Todd MacCulloch and Donald Watts. Then being on the team that re-opened the new Hec Ed after they completed the renovation. And then my Senior Night I have a lot of good memories from that. I think I made 3 of 4 threes in the first 12 minutes. So from an individual scoring standpoint that was a lot of fun.”
(What is Friday going to be like for you?) “I coached at Eastern Washington when we came back so I’ve been in the building a couple of times on the other side. Every time it is so weird to go sit on the other bench. I’m so used to sitting on the other bench from the four years that I played. So I still haven’t quite gotten used to going over to the other bench. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun to go back there again. From where I’ll be coaching on Friday, again I met my wife probably 100 yards from there. So every inch of that arena there’s something that brings back a good memory from my four years there. … It’s always fun to go back in there. I’ve been so pleased and impressed with what that staff has been able to do recently. You always have such high hopes and high expectations for your alma mater. They’ve exceeded those.”
(Will you have to fight conflicting emotions?) “Not on Friday. [Laughs] Not on Friday. I hope we go and represent our school, our institution and represent our league very well. I hope we come out and play as hard as we did on Thursday against Arizona.”

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