GRAND FORKS -- Former Arizona coach and Hall of Famer Lute Olson, who graduated from Grand Forks Central, died Thursday night at age 85.
Olson, who was inducted into the national basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, turned Arizona into a national power and led the Wildcats to a national championship in 1997.
Olson was born in Mayville, N.D., and graduated from Grand Forks Central in 1952. He led the school to the North Dakota state title. He then played at Augsburg before landing his first coaching position in Mahnomen.
He later coached at Long Beach State and at Iowa before taking over at Arizona in 1983.
Prominent basketball figures around the country shared thoughts Friday about Olson's passing.
"It's hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me," Golden State Warriors coach and former Arizona player Steve Kerr said on Twitter. "He was an amazing coach and a wonderful man. Being part of the (Arizona) basketball family changed my life forever. I will never forget Coach O, those awesome nights at McKale and all my teammates. Thank you Coach, I love you!"
Creighton men's basketball coach Greg McDermott, a former UND coach and Northern Iowa player, said he grew up appreciating Olson's coaching at Iowa.
"I remember watching Coach Olson when I was young as he built the Iowa program into something special," McDermott wrote on Twitter. "I was always impressed with his class and professionalism. It was an honor to get to know him on some Nike trips the last decade. I'm proud to call him a friend."
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who played at Duke, recalled being recruited by Olson.
"RIP to Lute Olson, one of the game's greatest coaches, competitors, champions and gentlemen," Bilas said on Twitter. "Coach Olson recruited me when he was at Iowa. At a home visit, he won my mother over forever. When I later committed to Duke, she was still going to Iowa."
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum also extended his condolences to Olson’s family.
“Lute Olson was a state champion, a Hall of Fame coach and a legendary North Dakotan,” Burgum said. “His mentorship, both on and off the court, will be deeply missed by so many.”