The Arizona Daily Star
To say that the University of Arizona basketball program is at a true crossroads would be a complete understatement – one akin to saying that Lute Olson had an impact on Arizona.
But to that end, what are the directions that Sean Miller and the Wildcats can go? The first thing is obviously to hit the recruiting trail hard. This late in the game, however, what is left? Well, that depends on how hard Miller wants to look.
“The reality is that right now, the way I feel about it and the way we will do it is that every person that gets a full scholarship has to be a person of high character,” Miller said during his introductory press conference, “a person that fits the way we play, a person that can compete down the road for Pac-10 championships and be that player and part of the team that can move through the NCAA Tournament.”
Miller is not someone who is going to run a dirty program with destructive recruiting tactics or grabbing players that may not quite fit with a philosophy. Miller added more on that subject later.
“We’re going to be selective and most importantly we have to take the players that can do what we want to do. If that’s not in the class of 2009, we’re going to be patient and take the right ones in the class of 2010 and maybe have more time instead of trying to rush and watch someone play for once.”
So the class of 2009 doesn’t necessarily have to be filled for Miller to feel like he is doing work on the recruiting trail. However, that in no way, shape or form means that Miller has no shot at filling the 2009 class with warm bodies – warm bodies with talent, however.
There is the obvious first name on the wish list, former Arizona commit, Solomon Hill.
When Hill committed to the Arizona program, Olson was still around and running things. Then, Olson left for the final time and the recruiting class immediately evaporated. Hill has since committed to the University of Southern California, he has yet to sign a letter of intent so he is still “in play”.
Solomon Crawford, Hill’s father, talked to the Star the day after Olson’s retirement announcement and said that the coaching instability played the major role in his son’s decommitment.
“It took me by surprise, but truth be told, I knew he probably wouldn’t make it throughout my son’s career at Arizona,” Crawford said. “I didn’t know he wouldn’t make it to the beginning of my son’s career at Arizona.”
Crawford said that, while Thursday’s announcement “threw us for a loop,” his son is “as of now” committed to the UA. Crawford said he wants to see what role assistant coach Reggie Geary, who recruited Hill and befriended the family, will have with the team’s future staff.
Friday, October 24, 2008 “Recruits left to rethink after Olson says adiós”
The passage there brings to light the disastrous nature that Olson left the Arizona program in, something that will not easily be remedied.
Getting Hill back in the fold would go a long way in beginning to heal the wounds.
One player in the 2009 class, however, will not be much more than a drop in the bucket if Nic Wise chooses to join fellow juniors, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger in taking his game to the next level next season.
The one player that is extremely interesting, is Kyryl Natyazhko.
Natyazhko, 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, is a Ukrainian center that was all set to decide between Xavier, Pittsburgh and Arizona State when a coaching change made him rethink his decision – sound familiar?
When Miller moved from Xavier to Arizona, Natyazhko decided that he would use his last open official visit to take a look at the Wildcats. He should be visiting sometime next week.
If the ‘Cats were to land Natyazhko, in addition to Hill, the talent level on the 2009 roster would not be as complete a disaster as it possibly can be if Miller swings and misses with these prospects as Natyazhko is averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds per game at IMG Academy in Florida.
Another casualty for the Xavier recruiting class caused by the Miller exodus could be Baltimore power forward, Jordan Latham (class of 2010.)
Latham was the first player to commit to Miller and Xavier for the 2010 class, and despite interest from some mega-programs, kept his commitment firm to the Musketeers. That is, until Miller decided to jump ship and head to Arizona to coach the Wildcats. Now, Latham is reportedly taking a look at Arizona. He is the #44 player in the class of 2010, so the talent level is there.
So those are just a few names to keep an eye on as time progresses this offseason. Miller could go with any, or all, or none of them in an attempt to fill the roster for next season and beyond. However, if Miller has shown anything so far, it is patience. If the right player with the right character and the right talent comes along, Miller will jump at it, if not? There is always the 2010 class.
“You will learn more about my style,” Miller stated during his press conference, “but one of the things that I take great pride in and our staff will is that there’s nothing more important than the players. Nothing. It’s not even close. If you treat the players the right way, they will run through a wall for you.”
Anyone still have doubts?
Didn’t think so.