At PointGuardU, we knew before his official announcement that Kaleb Tarczewski, aka Zeus, was going to be a Wildcat. But unlike our knowledge of previous recruitments, this time we knew for different reasons.
The commitment of Josiah Turner, Angelo Chol, and the decision by Derrick Williams to go pro were all shared with us by people close to the athletes. What we showed very clearly is that when we get information, we put it out it right away. That has always been our goal, to keep fellow Arizona fans as informed as we are, without the pretense that some fans deserve information and some don’t.
Because of that track record, it became clear that we find good information and share it. Perhaps for that reason, our knowledge of Tarczewski’s decision came from a source close to the recruitment. But part of getting that information was also the request to not go public with it. It was a great sign of respect: the acknowledgement that we were likely to find out anyway and publicize it, so better to tell us and ask us to protect it. So the best we could do is tell fans that Kansas wasn’t the leader for Tarczewski.
One consequence of having such a reliable source in this situation was the realization of how wrong other people’s “inside information” can be. When you know your information is good, it’s painfully clear when people are just reciting what others want to hear. Kansas fans were guilty of this, as they didn’t even want to acknowledge the fact that they may not lead for Tarczewski. Despite knowing how good Arizona’s chances were, we had to listen to people tell us their sources were virtually certain Tarczewski would be a Jayhawk.
Many fans also wondered earlier if Ashley’s recruitment affected Tarczewski’s decision, with speculation reaching an all time high after Ashley’s commitment. What those fans failed to realize is that almost nothing that happens in recruiting is a coincidence. While even Ashley himself may have thought he made his decision after his unofficial visit in August, the process was merely the last step in a very long plan by the coaching staff. The coaches worked hard for years to get to that position, and it was very much part of the time table to get Ashley on campus and secure a commitment in August. The idea that this could have influenced Tarczewski negatively is just ignorant of the time and effort the coaches put into their jobs.
Similar to when the coaches got an early commitment from Nick Johnson, only to add Josiah Turner the next month, these recruitments have been playing out exactly as intended. Just because Arizona had a serious chance with Tarczewski didn’t mean they were going to forget about their main target in Ashley. In fact, quite the opposite. With a Tarczewski decision looming, Arizona made sure to wrap up Ashley early.
Ashley’s commitment was a clear signal to the Tarczewski camp. They didn’t need to wonder if Arizona would land Ashley or if Arizona would have the number one ranked class. They also didn’t need to wonder if Arizona had the pieces to compete for championships. In recruiting, every coach says the same thing. But few coaches can show you that they are accomplishing everything they say. There’s simply no wondering about Arizona. The same could not be said for Kansas. While they very well could end up with a top class and a loaded roster, those were gambles. At Arizona, they were certainties.
The coaches knew that if they could wrap up their 2012 class before the early signing period, they could go full steam ahead for 2013, all while most top coaches were still scrambling to secure their 2012 commitments. Early leads for Jerrett and Ashley will be parlayed into early leads for the best of 2013, and the momentum will keep rolling.
In the message board world, it’s easy to become popular by delivering good news. Whether by telling fans when good things are happening, or by not saying anything when you know things are bad. It’s easy to say “things can always change” or “it’s 50-50” to avoid bad news. When fans are told what they don’t want to hear, they usually respond with hate and doubt. Arizona fans are guilty of this as well. No one wanted Derrick Williams to leave, but our reports that he would were met with flat out denial.
It’s also easy to wonder about, and doubt, things that are going on behind the scenes. Speculation is natural in forums, as fans try to make sense of limited information. But the Arizona coaching staff has consistently shown they are organized, thoughtful, and aggressive in terms of their execution. And as evidenced by the last few weeks, their execution has been flawless.
Our mission has always been to report what we know, regardless of how popular an opinion it is. We usually tell you exactly what we think. We’re not afraid to be wrong. We’ve been wrong before, and we’ll be wrong again. And we’re happy to tell you we don’t know. If we didn’t think Tarczewski was coming to Arizona, we would have said so. And if we had no idea, we would have said so. At any given moment we’re sharing our opinion based on everything we know, regardless of if it’s good or bad.
As the recruitment dragged on, speculation and panic reached all time highs. Fans had different ways of coping, from dismissing the need for the highly rated center to bickering among fan bases. The obsession with recruiting news made the decision appear to take forever, even though Tarczewski committed a full week before the early signing period. It was the constant expectation that he was about to decide (which was coming from multiple sources) and then numerous delays that caused a great deal of frustration for fans. But without any of those updates, the timeline of the recruitment would have made perfect sense.
But in the end, things played out exactly as expected. Tarczewski was favoring Arizona as early as August. He then took his time as Kansas and Arizona fiercely battled, both trying to gain the final edge just before his decision. Tarczewski was able to wait out that roller coaster, take a final set of visits, and then commit to the school that we expected him to. But because of where the information was coming from this time, we couldn’t share everything we knew as it was happening. And while that is an unfamiliar position for us, it was in the best interest of the program, and so we had to oblige.