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5 things you need to know about Earl Watson

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Posted at 1:04 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 18:31:50-05

Phoenix Suns interim coach Earl Watson has little prior coaching experience -- but he has played and received advice from some of the best coaches in the history of the game.

On Monday, Watson was handed the Suns' coaching reigns after Jeff Hornacek was fired earlier in the day. Watson has a tall task in front of him. His job: Turn around a team that has lost 30 of its last 37 games and hasn't made the playoffs since 2010.

See also: Earl Watson says he plans to "nurture and embrace" Markieff Morris

Here are five things you need to know about Watson, the 17th head coach in Suns history.

1. He's the NBA's youngest coach...

Watson is 36 years old, making him the youngest active head coach in the NBA. As fate would have it, Watson has become the head coach of the NBA's youngest player, Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, who turned 19 in October.

Watson is younger than a number of active NBA players, including Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Watson is, however, older than Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who is just 35.

2. ...but he has an old-school mentality

Watson played collegiate basketball at UCLA, where he soaked up a ton of knowledge from legendary UCLA coach John Wooden.

Wooden retired long before Watson played for the Bruins, but during his time on UCLA campus, Watson said Wooden taught him to create a family-like atmosphere and foster a positive attitude with his teammates.

As for relating his old-school coaching attitude to new-school players?

3. He has learned from some of the best

Watson didn't play for Wooden, but he had the opportunity to play under some of the NBA's top coaches during his 14-year playing career, including Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz. Watson also played under NBA Coach of the Year winners George Karl, Scott Brooks and Hubie Brown.

4. He's a childhood friend of another NBA coach

Watson is a good friend of another recently-named head coach. The Kansas native grew up in the Midwest with 38-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who stepped in for the Cavs after David Blatt was fired Jan. 24.

5. He was married to an actress

Watson and actress Jennifer Freeman were married in 2009 but split up a year later. From 2002-05, Freeman starred in the sitcom "My Wife and Kids," and she had guest appearances on "7th Heaven," "Lizzy McGuire," "The O.C." and several other TV shows. Watson and Freeman have a daughter named Isabella.