This week we saw Arizona make an effort to watch 2017 Billy Preston, a 6-8 PF from Redondo Beach, CA who is certainly a platinum level player and will play meaningful minutes at the college level. He’s ranked 9th in the composite rankings from 247Sports and his high school game has been raved about by coaches and scouts up and down California. He’s also the 5th front court player from the 2017 class to garner interest from Arizona.
Along with the likes of center recruits DeAndre Ayton (CA) and Ira Lee (who many believe will play PF at the next level) he shares the same position as Sierra Canyon’s Cody Riley, who shows ability to be a bullish stretch-forward, and Lone Star High’s (TX) PJ Washington, who has a 7’1 wingspan at the sophomore level in high school.
The last piece in the 2017 class to this point, Troy Brown Jr., is regarded as the best point guard recruit in his class if not the best player overall. A 6-6 out of Las Vegas, Brown Jr. is a do-it-all point with monstrous length and quick under the basket moves. With Brown Jr. in the mix one thing sticks out like a sore thumb when considering the lot of 2017 targets… location.
Anyone whose paid attention to Arizona recruiting over the course of its history has noticed the parallel between Arizona basketball and west coast recruiting. Sean Miller certainly noticed the trend and kept the advantage in his favor thanks to his ability to sell the Arizona basketball program. In 2009 Miller took on the chance to rebuild a program that had seen better days. It was a time for many fans that felt like the end of an era, Coach Lute Olson had tapped the west coast pipeline for recruits for 25 years and revitalized a town, simultaneously building it into a college basketball city.
Miller knew the in-roads of Arizona basketball when accepting the position, he honored Coach Olson by mentioning his name in interviews on how to retain the Arizona image while acknowledging the impact that Arizona has had on west coast recruiting. It is one reason why he pursued California forward recruit Derrick Williams in his rookie year as Arizona’s coach after USC coach Tim Floyd resigned from his post leaving Williams’ future up in the air. Solomon Hill of Los Angeles, CA, Kyle Fogg of Brea, CA, Garland Judkins of Humble, TX, Brendon Lavender of Mesa, AZ, Jamelle Horne of San Diego, CA and DJ Shumpert of Tucson, AZ all of whom were top 150 players in the 2009 class had the same thing in common, they were recruited west of the Mississippi.
Yes, Miller did have some luck with the Floyd resignation but the immediacy of his recruiting and awareness of Arizona’s position as a recruiting powerhouse on the west coast allowed him to snatch up a top 10 recruiting class in 2009. Only a short time on the job and Miller had made in-roads himself and saw the dividends pay off immediately. It’s not often that this approach works out so well, it’s difficult for an east coast coach to switch coasts and recruit the west coast as well as he has and vice-versa. It was necessary for Miller to show his strength in the recruiting game, churning out NBA level talent from the west coast after only a couple years allowed him to reap the benefits of the attention. Recruits noticed it and are noticing it today. The west coast basketball scene is run by Arizona, now and for the foreseeable future.
The positive tone of this mantra has been beneficial to Arizona as it has helped land them some of the top California recruits in the past couple years, 2014 Mater Dei High’s Stanley Johnson and 2013 Archbishop Mitty’s Aaron Gordon among them.
As the next year goes by watch Arizona’s 2017 recruiting class continue to trend towards the west, I expect an offer for Billy Preston shortly as well as an offer for Jarred Vanderbilt a SF out of Texas who could end up being a top 5 player in the 2017 class.
Other players to watch out for:
PG Jaylen Hands (Chula Vista, CA)
SG Victor Bailey Jr. (Austin, TX)
SG Chris Giles (Allen, TX)
SG Jamal Johnson (Houston, TX)
SG Alfred Hollins (San Francisco, CA)
PF Brandon Mccoy (San Diego, CA)
C Darian Scott (Las Vegas, NV)
SF Brian Bowen (Sagina, MI)
C Zach Brown (Miami, FL)
SF Jordan Tucker (White Plains, NY)