As the Arizona Men’s Basketball season creeps closer, the buzz around the team is at an all time high. Here are some interesting facts to impress your friends the next time you’re talking hoops by the water cooler.
Arizona Soldiers– There are recruiting pipelines, and then there are recruiting pipelines. The Wildcats have tapped into one of the best with the illustrious Oakland Soldiers club team, considered one of the most elite of all the teams on the AAU traveling circuit.
In the last three years, Arizona has received four commitments from Oakland Soldier players: Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner (transfer), Brandon Ashley, and freshman Aaron Gordon. Sean Miller and staff are targeting Soldiers for incoming recruiting classes as well in 2014 wing Stanley Johnson and 2015 forward Ivan Rabb.
The Soldiers have produced a long list of star players including four time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James.
Point Guard Preview– Wildcat fans were delighted by TJ McConnell’s debut against Augustana College last week, in which he gave a sparkling performance while filling up the box score. But did you know that it wasn’t McConnell’s first time playing a live game at McKale Center?
McConnell’s Duquesne team traveled to Tucson two years ago, resulting in a 67-59 loss to the Wildcats. The heady point guard put up a strong effort with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals on a game high 37 minutes, giving Arizona fans a glimpse of the future. McConnell’s rebounds, assists, and steals were all team highs.
Arizona has a definite Pennsylvania imprint, as coach Miller, McConnell, and fellow newcomer Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all hail from the state.
Revenge, A Dish Best Served Never– The two biggest non-conference games that people will be talking about are a potential showdown with Duke at Madison Square Garden and another heavy weight battle at Michigan. Arizona last played Michigan in 2005, escaping a close game with a victory in a 61-60 overtime win. The Wildcats last played Duke in the 2011 Sweet 16, a dominant 93-77 thrashing of the top seeded Blue Devils.
Arizona holds a record of 6-2 against Michigan, with the first meeting occurring 55 years ago in 1958. The Wildcats’ series with Duke is tied at 4-4 since 1962.
West Coast Wildcats– Arizona’s recruiting in the last few years has been top notch, but not many people saw this kind of dominance on the recruiting trail coming. Arizona is one of only two programs in the nation that has secured three straight top 10 recruiting classes, the other being Kentucky.
Miller has stockpiled McDonald’s All-Americans in his time at Arizona. The Wildcats have had 9 burger boys since 2000, with 4 of them coming in the last two years under Miller.