Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
has its man.
An assistant under former head coach Sam Duane Jr., Neil MacDonald has been hired to lead Arizona's four-time defending Division I boys basketball state champions.
The Aztecs will be a heavy favorite to extend their string of state titles to five next season and perhaps even compete for high school basketball's mythical national title.
He's got a good sense of humor about the lofty expectations that await him in the new position.
"I don't know who's crazier, coach Duane for leaving the job or me for taking it," MacDonald quipped Friday.
All kidding aside, the veteran coach has earned the opportunity to lead a state title contender after 25 years on the bench. MacDonald's journey has taken him from graduate assistant at Arizona State University to a job coaching professionally in Sweden to head coach at nearby Camp Verde High School.
But with players like MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year Marvin Bagley III
and Arizona Player of the Year Alex Barcello
(just a sophomore) returning for Corona del Sol, this opportunity will be special.
"This is a very unusual situation," MacDonald said. "Usually coaches are stepping into situations where the program needs to be rebuilt. Things are definitely not broken here, this is not a program that needs to be rebuilt. It's a very, very, unique situation."
MacDonald has spent the last two seasons at Corona del Sol, where the Aztecs have gone 66-2 with back-to-back national Top 10 finishes. Duane Jr. was 275-87 in 12 seasons as the head coach at the Tempe school.
The weight of managing a nationally ranked program is something MacDonald will likely take in stride. Along with wife Annica, he's raised 14-year-old twins Isaac and Marcus, who have autism. They also have a 17-year-old daughter named Emma.
Putting together the blueprint for another state championship season is a task that will have to wait until the weekend is over, at the very least. MacDonald has plans to take the boys fishing.