Arizona Basketball: Mike Bibby and the Program's Top 7 McDonald's All-Americans
Arizona will still see its own in action on the last week of the tourney. But it will be nowhere near New Orleans.
Brandon Ashley, out of Findlay Prep (Nev.) by way of Oakland, Calif., is a 6'8" combo-forward with a deft mid-range game and a nasty streak near the basket. Physically, he seems the closest thing to Derrick Williams since Williams was in Tucson in 2011.
Grant Jerrett is a skilled, polished power forward with a wide-shouldered 6'10" frame and a nice outside stroke. ESPN's scouting report described him as "improving at an alarming rate."
Center Kaleb Tarczewski, the most-lauded player in the class, probably performed well enough to make the cut. But he is a fifth-year senior, and thus ineligible, according to the Arizona Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe.
Ashley and Jerrett are the latest Arizona commits to play in the nation's premier prep all-star game. There were 15 before them.
Come inside to check out the top seven McDonald's All-Americans in Arizona history:
Jerryd Bayless, St. Mary's High School, Phoenix, Ariz.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Jerryd Bayless is tied with next guy on the list as the highest-rated high school player to ever come to Arizona, according to RSCIhoops.com's Recruiting Services Consensus Index.
That's quite the feat considering the depth of future NBA talent that's streamed through the McKale Center.
Bayless did not last long with the program, playing his freshman-and-only season at Arizona under tumultuous circumstances, following Lute Olson's leave of absence and Kevin O'Neill's brief, unmemorable interim coaching job. Apparently, he did not enjoy his time under the now-USC head man.
Still, Bayless was the key reason Arizona managed to keep its now-ended consecutive NCAA tourney streak alive (even though the result was a first-round flameout to West Virginia), averaging 19.7 points and 4.1 assists per game, playing a large portion of the season on an injured knee.
He opted to go pro that spring, and the Portland Trail Blazers took him 11th overall in the NBA Draft. He's now enjoying his best season so far with the Toronto Raptors.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 2007
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love
Chase Budinger, La Costa Canyon High School, Carlsbad, Calif.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Chase Budinger was arguably the most sought-after recruit of the Olson era. And he's knotted with Bayless for the highest ranked, coming in at No. 7 in the country in 2006.
A world-class volleyball player out of Carlsbad, Calif., Budinger was not expected to hang around at Arizona, his smooth inside-outside game, which included impressive leaping ability, thought to make him a candidate for early entry into the NBA Draft.
Budinger did eventually depart before graduating, but he lasted three years in Tucson, averaging 18 points, 6.2 boards and 1.4 steals in his final year.
And while whether or not he lived up to the hype is up for debate, he was a main member of all three of the tourney-bound squads he played on in Tucson.
A face-stomping incident really spurred Budinger's play in the latter portions of his junior year.
From that point, he and Jordan Hill carried Arizona into the NCAA Tournament, all the way to the Sweet 16, prolonging Arizona's consecutive-tourneys streak to 25.
Budinger was the 44th overall pick in 2009, and he's now a role player for the Houston Rockets.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 2006 (Co-MVP)
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez, Greg Oden
Chris Mills, Fairfax High School, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Chris Mills was all everything coming out of high school, where he played for powerhouse Fairfax in Los Angeles, snaring statewide Mr. Basketball notice in California to go along with the McDonald's accolades.
Then he bolted to the other side of the country, originally playing for Eddie Sutton at Kentucky.
That's where things got messy for Mills, his involvement in a pay-for-play scandal with the Wildcats' boosters forcing him to flee Lexington. Cash money allegedly came spilling out of a package destined for Mills' old man.
He landed at Arizona and became one of the premier forwards in school history, averaging 20.4 points and 7.9 boards in his senior campaign, turning that into the No. 22 pick in the 1993 NBA Draft.
He spent his 11-year career split between Cleveland, which drafted him, New York (briefly) and then a final long stretch run with Golden State, totaling career averages of 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Despite those average stats, Mills made the most of his time in the Assocation in terms of capital: He made $6.6 million with the Celtics in his 'final season' despite not playing a minute with the franchise, and over $37 million overall.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 1988
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Shawn Kemp
Brian Williams (Bison Dele), Saint Monica Catholic High School, Fresno, Calif.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
When he was at Arizona, he was still known as Brian Williams. During his NBA days, he became Bison Dele.
A gifted big man, Dele's life ended in tragic fashion.
In 2005, Dele's brother, Miles Dabord (aka Kevin Williams), killed Dele, Dele's girlfriend and also the captain of the boat they were sailing on, threw the bodies overboard, then later killed himself, according to the The New York Times.
Williams started his college career at Maryland before transferring to Tucson, where he became a force in the post at an agile-and-strong-framed 6'11".
He averaged 12.4 points and 6.5 boards in his two years at Arizona before being taken with the 10th pick in the 1991 NBA Draft.
Williams changed his name to Dele to honor his Cherokee roots, reportedly, and played nine years in the NBA, winning a title in Chicago.
Just two years after posting his career season in Detroit with the Pistons (16.2 points, 8.9 boards), Dele clashed with players on the club and opted to retire, leaving millions on the table.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 1987
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Dennis Scott, Larry Johnson, John Crotty
Richard Jefferson, Moon Valley High School, Phoenix, Ariz.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
All Richard Jefferson did was play a crucial role in taking Arizona to the brink of a national championship before becoming an NBA star for a period. And he was also a member of Team USA in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
An unreal athlete, Jefferson never overwhelmed in the scoring department at Arizona.
But he did everything well, often in spectacular above-the-rim fashion. He averaged 11.2 points, five boards and almost three assists per game during his span in Tucson, playing equal parts playmaker and distributor.
Jefferson's length-and-quickness combination at 6'7" also made his defensive presence a factor in Arizona's run to the 2001 national title game (where the Cats were hosed by the officials and fell to Duke).
Post-championship loss, Jefferson was taken 13th in the NBA Draft, and eventually became a vital member of two Eastern Conference championship teams in New Jersey. That notched him a $78 million contract.
Of that chunk of cash, $3.5 million went to building a basketball/volleyball practice facility at Arizona.
Jefferson is now on the Golden State Warriors, traded to the Bay Area for Stephen Jackson.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 1998
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Corey Maggette, Rashard Lewis, Al Harrington
Mike Bibby, Shadow Mountain High School, Phoenix, Ariz.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
During a storied run of owning some of the premier point guards in the nation, Mike Bibby was the best to ever play the position at Arizona.
If Bibby would've stayed all four years in Tucson, he would've challenged the next man on this list for the title of best player, period, in school history.
Though he left after his sophomore year, Bibby's two years with the program were phenomenal, guiding the Wildcats to the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball Division-I Tournament Championship as a true freshman. With basically the entire team intact the next year, Bibby and the Cats were ousted in the Elite Eight.
Notoriously quick with a lethal three-point shot and uncommon passing instincts, Bibby was an All-American in 1998 and averaged 15.4 points and 5.5 assists per game over his college career.
Bibby famously did not have a close relationship with his father, former USC coach Henry Bibby, at the time and opted to spurn his family ties in favor of playing against his old man as a member of Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats. They've since patched things up.
He was the second pick of the NBA Draft in 1998, behind in the infamous Michael Olowokandi, and later went on to take Sacramento to the Western Conference Finals (succumbing to the Lakers), earning himself an $80 million contract.
He's bounced around since then, making over $100 million in the process.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 1996
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Kobe Bryant, Richard Hamilton, Stephen Jackson
*Interesting side note: Jackson committed to play at Arizona, but was ruled ineligible and went to junior college.
Sean Elliott, Cholla High School, Tucson, Ariz.
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Sean Elliott was a rare local product, hailing from Tucson's Cholla High School. And his commitment to Lute Olson was critical in developing the program into a national power.
A long combo forward who could kill the opposition in a number of ways, the 6'7" Elliott was the Wooden Award winner, a two-time All-American and the leading scorer in Arizona history.
He averaged 22.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his senior season, a difficult line to rival in terms of areas of impact on the game.
After compiling that legendary career at McKale, he was taken with the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and went on to become a two-time NBA All-Star, playing a crucial role in the San Antonio Spurs 1999 NBA title after drilling the Memorial Day Miracle in the Western Conference Finals.
After winning his NBA championship, Elliott told the world that he was competing while having kidney disease, and that a transplant was imminent.
His brother, Noel, stepped up, donated his kidney, and Elliott later made a triumphant return to the court, retiring in 2001.
Elliott is the best player Arizona's ever known.
When he played in McDonald's All-American Game: 1985
Other McDonald's All-American standouts that year: Pervis Ellison, Danny Ferry, Pooh Richardson