Sad news hit the basketball world this morning when former UTEP head coach Jason Rabedeaux passed away at his home in Ho Chi Minh City. He was just 49 years old. Rabedeaux was the head coach of the Saigon Heat, the first-ever professional basketball team in Vietnam, and had just coached the team to a 72-61 win over the Indonesia Warriors on Sunday.

Rabedeaux was named UTEP men's basketball head coach on September 10, 1999 after spending the previous four season at Oklahoma. In three seasons as head coach of the Miners, he finished with a 46-46 overall record and took his team to the NIT Tournament in 2001. He resigned from UTEP on October 21st 2002, citing personal reasons. There were lots of rumors surrounding Rabedeaux's sudden departure from the program (including one that was mentioned by a female caller on my radio show), but he never addressed them in his outgoing press conference. He later joined Marquette as their Director of Basketball operations before moving overseas and coaching in Japan, China, Bahrain, and Vietnam.

When I look back at Coach Rabs' three seasons at UTEP, I remember his smile, enthusiasm, and passion for coaching. I had taken over as host of Sportstalk two years before he arrived in El Paso with his family, and became close with one of his assistants, Ryan Carr. Rabedeaux never realized that he was in an impossible situation, since nobody wanted to take over the program from Coach Haskins, including Tim Floyd and Nolan Richardson. Miner fans expected instant success and Rab delivered in his second season. However, the following year his Miners could not make up for the loss of Brandon Wolfram and won just 10 games.

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