Tony Fuller, a former college coach and most recently head coach at Brophy Prep, has been hired to coach boys' basketball at Maricopa High School.

Tony Fuller, who just ended 10 years at Brophy College Prep, has been hired to coach the boys’ basketball team at Maricopa High School.

Jake Neill, who was head coach for four years, resigned his coaching duties at the end of the season to pursue school administration. Since then, MHS received more than 40 applications for the job.

“I’m all about moving forward,” Fuller said. “I’ve been to Maricopa three times. There are nice, new homes, and it seems to be clean and safe.”

Fuller, a one-time NBA player, was hired as head coach at Brophy in 2006. He coached only one losing season, his first, and his 2011 team reached the state Division I final. His overall record there was 156-94.

“Coach Fuller is a terrific coach with experience from all levels,” said Rick McConnell, longtime head coach at Dobson High School. “His college experience is evident in the way his teams play. They are always very fundamentally sound on both offense and defense. His demeanor and coaching style is very professional.”

In 2015, Brophy opted to make a change in its coaching staff, but Fuller stayed on with the school as a physical education teacher. When he saw the opening in Maricopa, however, his resume was ready.

“He’d asked about the job and, of course, he was a very good interview,” Maricopa Athletic Director Mark Cisterna said.

A native of Detroit, Fuller played at Pepperdine University and a season with the Detroit Pistons as a 6-foot-4 shooting guard. He was head coach at San Diego State University for two seasons and at Pepperdine for two more. He was assistant coach at Colorado State and Utah State before moving to Stanford University as an assistant for six seasons.

“I’m excited about him,” Cisterna said. “I hope people realize what a quality coach we are getting.”

Fuller, 57, has a master’s degree in physical education. He was hired as a PE teacher for MHS but also has an option to teach credit retention.

Cisterna said he already had Fuller meet some of the students and parents.

“I like the entire community,” Fuller said. “It seems to be a good situation. I wanted to go into a program where the previous coach stepped down on his own terms, unlike my situation.”

Cisterna said he and Fuller know a lot of the same people in the coaching community, and he spoke with several who had worked with him. “I got nothing but great statements about him,” he said.

Because the reasons Brophy decided not to bring back Fuller as coach were never publicized, Cisterna also spoke with the Brophy athletic director for insight.

Meanwhile, Fuller said he looked at the Rams’ record over the past 10 years on and watched game tapes. Maricopa’s team was 17-11 this season.

“Mark told me the kids are tough and hungry,” Fuller said.

That’s what he likes in a player. He describes his teams as disciplined players who play hard and play together as a group and are comprised of a lot of over-achievers.

His six-point approach to the game is clear and simple: “Transition defense, half-court defense and defensive rebounding; transition offense, half-court offense and offensive rebounding.”

Fuller called basketball a means to end. “It’s work, it’s education, it’s lifelong friendships, it’s business, it’s community,” he said.

Cisterna said a bonus of hiring Fuller is the coach’s knowledge of teams the Rams will be playing next year as realignment moves them from Division III to 5A.

“It’s not going to be an easy road,” Cisterna said.

More importantly, he said, Fuller was the kind of coach he hoped to find because of his experience with youth.

“I think he’ll be great for our kids and hold them accountable for what they do,” he said.

Two of the most influential men in Fuller’s life were his high school and college coaches. That was Ed Rachal at St. Martin de Porres in Detroit and Jim Harrick at Pepperdine. “They were father figures and role models and great, great men.”

Though he lives in Phoenix, he plans to find a house in Maricopa. (“I’m not a commuter.”) Fuller said it’s important the students and community see that he is “all in.”

“As a leader, it’s important to show your commitment to a course,” he said.

Once his commitment to Brophy is officially over, Fuller expects to host some basketball classes and tournaments in Maricopa.