Arizona's Biggest 2013 Recruiting Targets

Casey CroweFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2012

Arizona's Biggest 2013 Recruiting Targets

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    Sean Miller's latest University of Arizona recruiting class drew national love, ranked in the top three for 2012 by several of the major media sources in that realm (ESPN, Scout.com, Rivals.com).

    But even in the midst of compiling that crew, Miller was already deep into filling out the 2013 version.

    At this point in his tenure on the West Coast, Miller owns connections to all of the premier talent within striking distance—and outside of that zone, as he's brought three players in from New York City in three years in Tucson.

    The inroads are now solid with those future 4-star and 5-star types from early in their high school careers...and even prior to that.

    Evidence: He recently offered scholarships to a high school freshman and a 6'7" eighth-grader, according to Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star.

    Those kids would be part of the 2016 and 2017 classes.

    For now, let's not look too far into the future, instead focusing on who could potentially arrive next fall to reinforce a squad that will lose three heavily-contributing seniors. And besides graduation, other slots may open before next year's roster is complete as well, for a variety of reasons.

    This slideshow will focus on five of Arizona's main targets for 2013.

Elliott Pitts, SF (Verbal Commitment)

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 190

    High school: De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)

    Other key contenders: Washington, Cal, Georgetown

    The only verbally committed player on this list also owns the lowest profile.

    But he still ranks among the Top 150 players in the nation, coming in at No. 141 according to Rivals.com. Scout.com did not list him among its Top 100 for 2013, and ESPN had him at No.88.

    He appears solid in all aspects, but his shooting, instincts and defensive abilities were what stood out on film.

    Even if it wasn't in Tucson, Pitts was probably going to end up in the Pac-12, as the list of his suitors contained two other main options from the West Coast's power conference.

    But he opted against visiting either Seattle or Berkeley.

    Via Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star:

    "I knew for a fact that it was a perfect fit," Pitts said. "I just felt really comfortable there with the coaching staff and coach Miller.  There was nothing really wrong with the other schools recruiting me; I just felt like it was the perfect fit."

    He projects to stick around Arizona for a longer tenure, allowing Miller to pick up a future upper-classman. Several of his highly-rated pickups are sure to be early-departing NBA lottery-level draftees at some point soon.

James Young, SG

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    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 200

    High school: Troy (Troy, Mich.)

    Other key contenders: Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville

    Sean Miller will have to outwrestle the game's biggest names if he's going to drag Young out of Michigan. Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino are among the coaches sweating his services.

    And recent reports have Young, a slashing shooting guard, showing the majority of his interest in Calipari's program in Lexington.

    Miller's squad doesn't appear to be in the upper tier of his choices at the moment, but much could change between the summer and signing day. Arizona already offered, as should be the case with all of the elite hoopsters who fit the program's model.

    He's ESPN.com's No. 5-ranked player in the nation, his skills grading out at 95 out of 100 on that site's scale.

    It's a reach, but Arizona is still on his radar.

    And let us not forget that Miller was able to convince three of the 10 highest-ranked players in the nation to join his squad last year (Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett), meaning taking several off this list is well within the realm of possibility.

Rondae Jefferson, SF

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 200

    High school: Chester (Chester, Penn.)

    Other key contenders: Temple, Rutgers, Memphis

    An example of Sean Miller reaching back to his East Coast roots—heading into his home state of Pennsylvania—to make an offer to small forward Rondae Jefferson. It's a position that will need reinforcements, with both Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom set to graduate.

    That leaves only Brandon Ashley to fill that role, and his size lends itself to playing the power forward role as much as the small forward.

    Unfortunately for the Cats, Jefferson appears to be a homebody, as he's being linked heavily to Memphis, Philly-based Temple and also right across the state line to Rutgers in N.J. His brother, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, started at the power forward position for Temple last season.

    While not a pure shooter at this point, for his size—6'7"—Rivals.com listed his ball-handling abilities as "outstanding." Check out the video above, from PointGuardU.com, for further proof.

    He's among the Top 20 players in the country, via Rivals, Scout and ESPN, and he'd fill an area of need.

    He's not real likely to land in Tucson, but he makes a lot of sense in terms of need and fit.

Keith Frazier, SG

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 185

    High school: Kimball (Dallas, Texas)

    Other key contenders:  Texas, Baylor, UCLA

    One of Arizona's only glaring deficiencies in the coming season is Keith Frazier's specialty: perimeter shooting.

    Frazier is among the elite in the country in that category, and he's likely to see a lot of early playing time as a result.

    According to Rivals.com, Frazier slots in as the No. 14-ranked player in the nation, and several of the country's heavy hitters have already offered slots on their rosters, including home-state possibilities Baylor and Texas. Scout has him at No. 16 and ESPN at No. 19.

    He is a crucial get for the Wildcats' 2013 class.

    Arizona appears to be among the best bets to land this 5-star scorer, as his style seems like a natural fit for Miller's scheme. And he seems to have his coach's habits in terms of work ethic as well. 

    He's already been to Tucson and his visit was a success (via Arizona Daily Star):

    Frazier did visit Arizona unofficially last October, during the UA's Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage, and that left a good impression.

    "For sure," Frazier said. "I like coach Sean Miller, and it's pretty nice there. It was cool…It is whatever school comes hard after me, where I feel like I can be their player."

Aaron Gordon, PF

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    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 205

    High school: Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)

    Other key contenders: Kentucky, Stanford, Kansas

    The video above asks the completely unfair question for a high school senior: Is Aaron Gordon the next Blake Griffin?

    Given his quick-and-easy explosion for a player his size, the athletic comparisons are valid. And he aggressively attacks the rim in the air, another Griffin characteristic.

    That type of pressure needs to be eased off, but if Gordon were to land in Tucson, his commitment would have to be regarded as the most impressive in Miller's tenure so far.

    He's the younger brother of former New Mexico star Drew Gordon—who originally played for, and transferred out of, UCLA—meaning he's going to take his time in making sure he makes the right selection the first time around (Sporting News).

    The kid was the state of California's player of the year as a junior. The last two players to do that were Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd. He profiles as a one-and-done collegiately due to his unusual skill set for his mass.

    Arizona's early inroads on Aaron Gordon come via his Amateur Athletic Union squad, one of the nation's best—the Oakland Soldiers.

    Current Arizona players Nick Johnson and Brandon Ashley are former Soldiers, as was now-defunct point guard Josiah Turner.

    That's a slew of players from a single AAU crew, meaning the pipeline from Northern California into the desert is healthy. And the coaches are obviously pleased with the results on both ends.

    Gordon would immediately vie for a starting role in what would project among the best frontcourts in school history.