When people look back at the Sean Miller Era in Tucson, they will likely view the 2012 recruiting class as the one that officially returned Arizona to greatness. While recruiting rankings are very far from reliable (just look at unranked recruit Derrick Williams), there is no denying that Miller is bringing in four extremely talented players next season to go with a group of guys who might already be able to compete for a deep tournament run.
If the 2012 class stays where it’s at, it should make the Wildcats immediate title contenders for the 2012-2013 season. The four recruits fill every position except point guard (and one of those could be on the way if it appears freshman Josiah Turner will enter the NBA draft). Not only do Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, Kaleb Tarczewski, and Gabe York fill their positions, they have the ability to excel at all of them. But while it’s fun to talk about the limitless potentials of the 2012 class, I’ll leave that to other members of this site who routinely watch these guys play. What I want to focus on is the lasting effects this class will have at Arizona.
As it stands right now, there is not a hotter recruiting staff in the country than Arizona’s. Miller and company landed every main target they went after in 2012, something no other school can say, including Kentucky, who lost two recruiting battles to Arizona. Miller clearly has a way of connecting with recruits that very few others have and he always seems to get who he wants, no matter how astronomical the odds may appear from our view.
It is coming to a point where the coaching staff no longer needs to sell Arizona. The school sells itself. I live in Missouri and I occasionally see teenage guys wearing Arizona hats, not because they are fans of the program necessarily but because the Arizona block A is becoming a logo synonymous with success in basketball. The Arizona brand is constantly expanding and will continue to do so as long as the Wildcats keep winning.
There is no doubt that recruits in upcoming classes will take note of what Miller is assembling in Tucson. In general, most people understand that it is beneficial to themselves to be surrounded by others who are successful. For example, LeBron could have stayed in Cleveland and averaged 30 points a game but instead he wanted to win championships, even if that meant sacrificing a few points a game. Obviously it is still to be decided whether LeBron wins anything but you get the picture. Recruits know that Arizona is the place to be if they want to make Final Fours and compete for NCAA titles.
But while recruiting is extremely crucial, it does no good if the coaching staff isn’t able to transform that raw talent. Fortunately, the Arizona staff have proven that they can do just that, with the most obvious example being Derrick Williams. Even though he was likely underrated coming out of high school, he wasn’t nearly as good when he arrived in Tucson as when he left.
Kaleb Tarczewski’s commitment is just another side affect of the plan that Miller has going in his mind. He knows exactly what to focus on, both on the court and on the recruiting trail and has the confidence to get it done. Miller also does this with such diplomacy that its hard for opposing fan bases to hate the guy.
We should all celebrate this recruiting class but at the same time remember, it does not guarantee Final Fours or national championships. But with Miller at the helm, the odds of Arizona consistently making deep tournament runs are as good as any school’s.