Where are they now: Jason Gardner
Jason Gardner, 37, is the current men’s basketball coach at IUPUI.
Gardner was a star high school basketball player for the Panthers from 1995-1999, leading the team to the 1999 IHSAA 4A state championship.
“Winning the state championship has to be my greatest memory at North Central. We had a great core group of guys and ended up winning the state,” Gardner said.
He was the first ever Mr. Basketball from NC, winning the award in 1999. He was a McDonald’s All-American in 1999 as well.
“Both my uncle and my brother went to North Central, so it was huge for me to win Mr. Basketball. The award showed all the hard work I put in,” Gardner said.
Gardner decided to attend the University of Arizona over several other offers, including Kansas and Duke. He was a four-year All-American and ranks third all-time in points for the Wildcats with 1,984 points.
“I have no regrets about going to Arizona. If I were to do it all over again, I would have gone to North Central and Arizona no question,” Gardner said.
Gardner, along with teammates and future NBA players Luke Walton and Richard Jefferson, led Arizona to the 2001 NCAA National Championship, where the Wildcats lost to Duke University. As a senior in 2003, Gardner was a 2nd-team All-American following averages of 14.8 points and 4.9 assists. In 2005, his number 22 jersey was retired by Arizona.
Following his collegiate career, Gardner played overseas for eight years, primarily in Germany. He was a two-time All-Star in the German league and was named league MVP in 2009. He helped lead Oldenburg to the German league championship in 2009 as well.
“Germany was very competitive, especially with all the imports (non-German players) on each team,” Gardner said.
Gardner then moved into coaching, becoming a men’s basketball assistant for Loyola Chicago from 2011-2013 and Memphis in 2013-2014. He was then hired as the head coach for IUPUI in 2014, where it will be his 5th year at the helm this winter.
“This year’s team is going to be a fun group and hopefully we can be very competitive and have a successful season,” Gardner said.