By Ace Thakore & AK Murthy
It’s a busy time for the Arizona Wildcats as basketball practices are almost in full swing and the coaching staff is traversing the country to see a number of different recruits. While other sites are claiming that there is no new insider info to report, there is actually a plethora of news and notes that fans will be interested in. Enjoy this in-depth report on Arizona’s current roster and recruiting targets. And please post this article on your facebook and tweet it.
2011-12 Arizona Men’s Basketball Team
The Arizona Men’s Basketball team began organized limited practice on September 15th and by NCAA rules is only allowed to practice as a whole for two hours a week. October 14th is the date when the team will be allowed to start full organized practices.
Currently the focus of practice is defense with the team working on a variety of defensive drills. Those drills include how to deny the ball and denying the ball in the post. It is clear that Miller wants his young players to be ready defensively before they move on to anything else.
Angelo Chol looks good in his workouts and currently weighs in around 214 pounds. He has proven to be an excellent rebounder and shot blocker in pick up games thus far. However, Chol is a face-up player on offense and has range to the three point line. Since he won’t be spending a lot of time on the perimeter, his focus is on getting stronger so he can be physical in the post when called upon. Chol has an incredibly fast metabolism so he hasn’t bulked up as quickly as other players, but in time he will have a rock solid frame. Chol has also been one of the hardest workers on the team so far.
Kyle Fogg is looking to be the leader of this current group of Wildcats and is doing it by example. He has recently been talking to former Wildcat Nic Wise on what it takes to be that leader. He’s the hardest working guy on the team by many accounts. Fogg’s shooting and defense are his two biggest strengths right now and he will be relied upon all season as Arizona’s go-to player. It is probable that Fogg leads all players in minutes played this year.
Solomon Hill has been very vocal on the court this offseason and is in shape at the time of this report. His shooting has improved and has been one of his main points of emphasis this summer. With Hill’s strength and craftiness around the basket and Arizona’s lack of proven post scorers, look for Hill to be very active in the paint. When defenders start to sag off him, that’s when we’ll get to see how Hill’s shot has improved. While the starting rotation hasn’t been decided there is a very good chance he is a starter from day one.
Chris Rounds has put some weight on Josiah Turner and he is the strongest he has ever been in his career. Turner is working on his jump shot and while his release hasn’t changed, his shot is going in more often. It’s very likely he becomes the starting point guard from day one. Miller loves seniority but the best players in practice are ones that see the floor, and Turner has definitely been a standout in practice and pick up games. We don’t expect Turner to come into his own offensively right away, but his playmaking skills will be apparent from the first tip off. No player on the team can facilitate the offense as well as Turner can, and he will certainly be in the running for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Nick Johnson has been one of the hardest working freshmen on the team and has certainly been the most vocal on the floor at this point. His conditioning is the best it’s ever been and his midrange game has improved greatly this summer. Johnson may possess more physical gifts than any guard Sean Miller has ever coached, which means his potential is through the roof.
Sidiki Johnson is currently weighing in at 250 pounds and in the low post he has been a great rebounder and defensive presence in pick up games. His strength is going to impress people this season and he’ll be one of the biggest bodies Arizona can put on the court. Originally many people expected Johnson to need more time to develop than his three classmates, but he is coming along quicker than expected. If Johnson can play solid defense and adjust to the speed of the college game, he will be a major part of Arizona’s post rotation.
Brendon Lavender has looked good in pickup games and practice but that’s always been the case. This is his final chance to take his stellar practice performances and translate them into game productivity. He’s in excellent physical condition and the strongest he’s been while at Arizona.
Jordin Mayes is not back to 100% yet but continues to work on his strength. He added a significant amount of weight to his frame compared to last year and should be back on the court in full capacity over the next few weeks. Look for Mayes to provide scoring punch off the bench while relieving Turner at the point and also playing minutes alongside him at shooting guard.
Kyryl Natyazhko is a big body that the Cats are going to rely on this season. He’s dropped a lot of weight since coming back overweight and is currently around 275 pounds. He’s been impressive on his box outs, rebounding, and physicality. Natyazhko’s strength will be needed on the interior, but don’t be surprised to see him pick and pop for jumpers now and then. He has a great shooting touch when his confidence is high, and making defenders respect his shot could help draw big bodies out of the paint and open up lanes for Arizona’s slashers.
We found out about the Kevin Parrom incident on early Sunday but since it wasn’t already in the headlines it was obvious that the powers that be would have rather kept this quiet. We chose not to report on it because it’s not anyone’s business but Parrom’s, the team’s, and his family’s. He is currently walking fine but does have a knee brace on at all times. We will know more about his recovery in the next several weeks. He could miss a few games or be out a couple of months depending on the findings over the next month. Right now it’s anyones guess and anything more is speculation.
On the basketball side of things, Parrom should not be in jeopardy of missing playing time if his injury progresses as expected. While Parrom will probably come off the bench, look for him to be one of the team’s leading scorers and minute getters due to his experience and offensive efficiency last year.
Jesse Perry has added about ten pounds since last season and is around 220. He’s almost a lock to start at the power forward spot as long as he plays well in practice. Perry has always been an aggressive player who attacks the defense, and he will be asked to do exactly that this year. Perry’s job is to be a rugged defender and rebounder that attacks the rim and draws fouls, while occasionally stepping out to hit midrange jumpers.
Alex Jacobson will add depth to the front court and is healthy at this point after being plagued by back injuries during his career. Like other Arizona post players, Jacobson can shoot the ball well for his size. If he can be a threat to make a few baskets a game and play solid defense, Jacobson will go a long way in solidifying Arizona’s post rotation.
2012 Arizona Commits
Brandon Ashley and his Findlay Prep team played a scrimmage against Bishop Gorman and select players last night. He was the highest rated player on the court, but had a quiet night. He had a few nice plays in the post, but did not seem to settle into the game and take over like we’ve seen him do so many times.
Still, Ashley got fired up by Demetris Morant and Ben Carter’s physical defense and asserted himself more late in the game when the score became close.
“I enjoyed the scrimmage”, Ashley told PGU last night. “It was a good test. It got a little heated out there but that’s how it goes.”
Ashley told PGU that he will be going back to the Bay Area one more time soon to see family and friends and then he would be back in Las Vegas for a while before going home again. He’s enjoying Vegas and having his good friend Dominic Artis around has made the transition alot more enjoyable.
Last Friday, Book Richardson and Joe Pasternack visited Ashley at Findlay Prep.
“It’s always good to see those guys”, Ashley told PGU. “Coach Book is my dude and we have a great relationship.”
Grant Jerrett and Gabe York are both practicing with their teams and remain 100% solid on their commitments to Arizona. Both will be at the Red-Blue game on October 22nd.
2012 Arizona Recruits
Last weekend Arizona didn’t host any recruits on campus. However, the staff has been very busy traveling to watch 2012-2015 recruits over the last few weeks.
Kaleb Tarczewski will officially visit Kansas for Late Night at the Phog on October 14th. The following week he will visit Arizona’s Red-Blue game. As of now we feel good about Arizona’s chances in this recruitment. The staff has done an excellent job with Kaleb in this recruitment and they were able to secure the last visit which is the one they wanted. We have said all along that Kansas does not lead and we still believe this to be the case. No one would be surprised if he chose Kansas as they have been the perceived front runner for some time but Arizona likes its position.
Robert Upshaw completed an in-home visit with Sean Miller and has backed off his timetable of making a decision in the spring. He still plans on taking visits but his decision could come earlier if he is comfortable with a school.
Amedeo Della Valle, a 6’5 point guard and native of Italy, has recently been offered by Arizona. Sean Miller saw him play about two weeks ago at Findlay Prep and thought enough of Amedeo to offer him. Della Valle also has offers from UMass, California, St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, Portland, and Utah. He led the Italian U18 national team in scoring in the European Champions League this past summer and then came to the United States to play for Findlay Prep.
We caught up with Amedeo to discuss basketball and his recruitment.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was very young and the strongest part of my game is my basketball IQ”, Della Valle told PGU. “I’m also a good scorer and passer.”
Sean Miller has also been in contact with Della Valle since watching him play in Las Vegas.
“I spoke with Coach Miller last week and he told me about the Arizona program”, Della Valle told PGU.
While Della Valle has many suitors he won’t be taking visits anytime soon and will make a decision in the spring. This recruitment is in its very early stages and will take shape in the spring.
2013 Arizona Recruits
Keith Frazier is one of Arizona’s top targets in the class of 2013. A 6’5, 180 pound wing, Frazier is from Irving, Texas and has played with both the Houston Hoops and Dream Vision travel teams. Frazier is known for his scoring ability and lethal shooting stroke, having shown true range out to the NBA three point line. PointGuardU.com got in touch with Frazier to give fans a deeper look at him as a player and person.
“I’m a shooter, I love to shoot,” Frazier told PGU. “But I’m trying to get to the rim more and I think my handle has gotten a lot better too. You always have to keep adding to your game so the defense can’t key in on one thing.”
Frazier has been getting a lot of attention lately, especially after a strong performance at the Great American Shootout earlier this year. With that attention, Frazier’s recruitment has started to pick up, and he is hearing from schools all over the country.
“Providence, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma St, Kansas, TCU, Baylor, Marquette, Florida, and Arizona have all come to see me play recently,” Frazier said. “Arizona is probably recruiting me the hardest. They’re coming at me hard, and so are Baylor, A&M, and UTEP.”
We will have a full interview with Keith Frazier up this weekend.
Jabari Bird still has Arizona and Washington at the top of his list, though UCLA has entered the picture while Cal seems to be slipping. The Arizona staff planned on seeing him today, but Bird was sick so the plans fell through. Bird will take an unofficial visit to Arizona November 12th and 13th as PGU previously reported.
Aaron Gordon will visit Arizona this weekend as PGU reported earlier this month. Today, Gordon was visited by Sean Miller and Joe Pasternack at Archbishop Mitty High School. Kansas was also in attendance.
Stephen Domingo, a 6’7 wing from St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, is one of Arizona’s top targets in the 2013 class because of his tremendous shooting ability and height for the shooting guard or small forward position. Domingo plans to visit Arizona for the Red/Blue Game and Sean Miller and Joe Pasternack went to the Bay Area to see him play today.
Tyrell and Tyree Robinson are still being recruited by Arizona and we need to follow up with them to see how their recruitment is going. Look for an update in the next week or so. They are two of our favorites here at PGU.
Nate Britt will be visiting Arizona in January for the Washington game. This report is full of new information and Britt’s visit is an of example of that. ESPN’s Gameday crew will be in attendance.
Matt Jones is a guard that has popped up on Arizona’s radar relatively recently, and he is getting much deserved national attention. Jones is a pure shooter and can score points as quickly as anyone in his class. Considered a Duke lean at this point, Jones also picked up an offer from UNC this week and is also considering schools on the west coast like Arizona.
Tyler Ennis is another point guard that Arizona is recruiting from St. Benedict’s Prep. Ennis has long existing ties to the Arizona staff as he has known Book Richardson since he was 6 years old. Ennis used to attend practices and games for Richardson’s New York Gauchos AAU team as a child, so they have known each other for a very long time. Richardson also has a close relationship with Ennis’ father. Miller caught the same flight to watch Ennis play that he did to watch 2013 Isaiah Briscoe.
“Iowa St, Arizona, West Virginia, Syracuse, and Villanova are recruiting me the hardest,” Ennis said. “Those schools and probably a few others, that’s a tough question to answer right now because a lot of schools are contacting me and they might start showing me more interest.”
“They’re known for their guards, but more importantly they win,” Ennis said of Arizona. “They have always had winning teams and that’s something important to me.”
“They offered me awhile back, but they just told me they want to get me down there on an unofficial visit,” he said.
Jordan Bell, a 2013 forward out of Long Beach, California, is of the best shot blockers and defensive presences in the entire country. PGU last spoke with Bell at the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas, where he played alongside 2012 Arizona commit Gabe York. A lot has changed for him since then, so PGU caught up with Bell to see what’s new.
“I’m just trying to become better on both sides of the ball, stuff like keeping my position in the post. There are a lot of areas I can improve on. My offensive game is coming along, that’s something I know I need to work on.” Bell told PGU. “A lot of schools have been coming to see me, I can’t think of all the schools off the top of my head but USC, Colorado, Washington, and Arizona, mostly Pac-12 schools.”
Tommie Hamilton, a center from Chicago’s Whitney Young High school was impressed by his unofficial visit to Arizona and has recently said that Arizona is recruiting him the hardest. However, he won’t be making a decision anytime soon and Arizona will continue to pursue him.
2014 Arizona Recruits
Emmanuel Mudiay has been receiving attention from some of the best programs in the country, including Arizona. Though Mudiay is quite young, the Arizona coaching staff is not afraid to invest heavily in the young lead guard. PGU caught up with Mudiay again to discuss his game and his recruitment.
“I’ve improved most on my shooting. I’ve been working really hard to become a better shooter, just so the defense has to respect my shot”, Mudiay told PGU.
We also asked Mudiay who is recruiting him the hardest and the answer should come as no surprise. This Arizona staff is relentless.
“I’d probably say Arizona is recruiting me the hardest. Coach Book just recently came out to me and we have a good relationship,” he said.
Chris McCullough is a 6’8 forward from Salisbury School in New York, and is Arizona’s top priority in the 2014 class. McCullough is considered a must get player in his class, and the staff is going to do everything it can to make sure they land him. McCullough told PGU that Arizona is in his top two, and that is still the case. Arizona has prioritized Isaiah Briscoe and Chris McCullough over any other players in the 2014 and 2015 classes.
Miles Reynolds is a point guard from Whitney Young High School in Chicago, Illinois. Reynolds does not hold an offer from Arizona but he is firmly on the coaching staff’s radar and they are keeping a close eye on him. Reynolds is a long time Arizona Wildcats fan, as his family has a home in Tucson that he has spent a lot of time at. Reynolds recently visited Ohio St.
“I talk to coach Pasternack on the regular,” Reynolds said. “We talk about how the players like it there and how they’re doing. And of course we all talk to coach Book about everything.”
Like Reynolds and Hamilton, 6’11 center Jahlil Okafor is also from Whitney Young High School and he also just visited Ohio St. Okafor is one of if not the top center in the 2014 class, so he is a tremendous talent. Okafor would be another jewel in Sean Miller’s crown after securing some of the best big men in the country in 2011 and 2012.
“I think I would fit in there well,” said Okafor. “Arizona has done a lot with different types of power forwards, like Derrick Williams and Channing Frye.”
Paul White is yet another Whitney Young High School player that Arizona is interested in. A 6’8, 210 lb forward, White’s recruitment is just getting started but Arizona has staked its claim from the beginning. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on going forward.
Stanley Johnson was visited by Joe Pasternack on Tuesday and he told PGU that UCLA and Arizona are recruiting him the hardest. He doesn’t have any leaders at the moment.
“Arizona has told me that they want me to come down and that I could be a major player for them. They believe I would be a really good fit”, Johnson told PGU.
Shaqquan Aaron, a 6’5 165 pound shooting guard from southern California, possesses one of the highest ceilings in the entire 2014 class. Aaron recently transferred from basketball powerhouse Mater Dei to William Howard Taft Senior High and is drawing more and more attention as the summer comes to a close. A strong summer on the AAU circuit has coaches interested in the young prospect. Aaron had been recruited mostly by west coast schools, but he told PGU that interest from perennial powers across the country has started to increase.
“Arizona and UCLA are coming at me hardest right now, pretty much the whole Pac-12 actually,” Aaron said. “Kentucky’s picking it up though too.”
We spoke with Aaron today and he said that he doesn’t have a date yet but he will definitely be visiting Arizona next month.
Joe Pasternack visited Aaron on Tuesday and Sean Miller visited Aaron at Howard Taft Senior High last week.
2015 Arizona Recruits
Isaiah Briscoe is a 6’3 point guard from St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, and despite his age he is getting serious looks from a number of high profile programs. Book Richardson saw Briscoe earlier this month. Richardson, his lead recruiter, thought so much of Briscoe that he made sure Sean Miller came to see him play in person. After they both took a flight across the country, Miller echoed Richardson’s sentiments. The staff thinks Briscoe is a special player and he is currently Arizona’s top target in 2015.
This trip was taken immediately after Jahlil Okafor, Miles Reynolds and Tommie Hamilton left campus. Miller is simply a tireless recruiter.