Coast 2 Coast Hoops
Over the last four years under Sean Miller, Arizona has the most wins among all Pac-12 teams with 96. The Wildcats are also the leader in winning percentage (.696) over that span.
But Arizona fans are used to that. After all, this is the house that Lute built, brick by brick, 20+ win season by 20+ win season. The fans expect that now.
Miller, however, is doing something that no Arizona coach has ever done. At age 44, Miller is already a better recruiter than Olson ever was. Sure, Lute pulled in blue chippers, but the bulk of his career success was on the back of maximizing the talents of 3 and 4 star players with a sprinkling of top flight recruits.
After Miller’s germinal years in Tucson, the Arizona recruiting machine has bloomed. The last three years, without question, have been the most successful period of recruiting in school history.
If you start with Nick Johnson, Miller has secured commitments from seven top 40 players and three McDonald’s All-Americans in three years. Olson snagged eleven burger boys — over his 25 year career. And never in Olson’s career did he ever pull two in one class, a feat Miller accomplished with Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett in 2012.
It’s almost unfair to the rest of the Pac-12 that Miller could accomplish that feat again, in consecutive years.
2013 commit Rondae Hollis-Jefferson earned his spot in the McDonald’s Game, and top recruiting target and fellow Mickey D’s All-American Aaron Gordon is set to announce his college choice during Tuesday’s media day event in Chicago.
What would an Aaron Gordon commitment mean to Arizona?
Let’s not mince words about it. Gordon is a future superstar, a player with a ceiling so high that no one is quite sure where it stops. Every program in the country wants that, desperately.
So to answer the question above, Gordon means everything for Arizona. Pairing Gordon with Hollis-Jefferson gives Arizona as dynamic of a freshman wing tandem as it’s had since Andre Iguodala and Hassan Adams or Richard Jefferson and Luke Walton — perhaps ever. Think about that for a second, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson could be the best pair of wing players Arizona has ever assembled in the same recruiting class. That’s exciting.
A duo of Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson headlining a 2013 class that already includes 6’6 sharpshooter Elliott Pitts would also go a long way in filling the void left on the wings by departing seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom. It’s not easy to replace four year contributors like Hill and Parrom, so Wildcat fans should thank their lucky stars if Gordon picks Arizona on Tuesday.
Gordon could also continue the trend of top west coast players choosing to play at Arizona. Starting with the 2011 class, the Wildcats have claimed a large portion of the best players to come out of California and the rest of the west coast. Adding Gordon to that list could cement the idea that the best west coast players go to Arizona. That’s something that could pay off years down the line.
After making the Sweet 16 this year, you can be sure the Wildcats are itching to make a deeper run next season. And with the way the roster is shaping up, that’s a very real possibility. With a post rotation anchored by Kaleb Tarczewski, Ashley, Jerrett, and Angelo Chol, and a backcourt led by pesky guards TJ McConnell and Johnson, Arizona is a legitimate contender in 2013.
To think that the Wildcats could add a player of Gordon’s caliber to what is already one of the strongest rosters in recent Arizona history is simply jaw dropping. Individual talent doesn’t win games over the long haul, strong teams do. And with Gordon, Arizona could have possibly the strongest team, top to bottom, in the entire country.
That’s what Aaron Gordon could mean to Arizona.