Tyrone grad gets new basketball coach at Penn State Altoona

Former NBA player and UNLV standout Armon Gilliam has been named as the new head boys basketball coach at Penn State Altoona.
A Pittsburgh native, Gilliam played 13 years in the NBA. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns as their second pick in the 1987 NBA draft, following four years of play at the University of Nevada Las Vega (UNLV). His NBA career included competition for the NBA championship on several teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz, where he finished his career.
During Gilliam’s’ four years at UNLV, the team ranked number one in the country for three consecutive years and reached the Final Four in 1987, under the direction of winning head coach Jerry Tarkanian.
At UNLV, Gilliam earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Ethnic Studies, while making the Dean’s List for two years. He also received the Academic Achievement Award in 1985 and was named the Black Athlete of the Year in 1986.
Gilliam was inducted into the Bethel Park High School Hall of Fame for basketball in 1997 and the UNLV Hall of Fame in 1998. He was selected to the Division I All-American Team in 1987 and was a finalist for the John Wooden Award the same year. He made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1988, was named the MVP of the New Jersey Nets for three consecutive years (1994-96) and was honored in 1996 for scoring 10,000 points during his NBA career.
On a local note, Tyrone 2002 graduate and basketball star David Rizzo will be attending Penn State Altoona to continue his education and play basketball. David learned this week he will be required to take a course in trigonometry before becoming an full-time student. Rizzo will take that course during the first semester at PSU Altoona and will not be considered a full-time student until the beginning of the second semester.
“Part-time students are not allowed to play in the games,” informed Rizzo. “I can work out with the team and will miss just the first six games on our schedule. I haven’t talked to Coach Gilliam yet, but I hope he can turn the program around. He knows what it’s like to compete on a higher level.”
Gilliam has advised a number of high school coaches in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh and worked over the past 22 years as a speaker and instructor for hundreds of basketball camps across the United States and Europe. Gilliam was most recently the head coach of last year’s Penn State McKeesport basketball team.
“As I make the step from the court to the coaches box, it becomes increasingly important to pass on a good legacy to the next generation of athletes,” Gilliam told the media recently. I have acquired a wealth of basketball knowledge throughout my collegiate and professional basketball careers, that I am eager to share with young athletes. I will be a coach who prepares the student-athlete to be successful on the court and in the game of life.”
The Penn State Altoona Lions kick off their 2002-2003 season November 23-24 at the Juniata College Tournament. The team opens its home season November 26 against Juniata College at 7 p.m. in the Adler Gym.