Arizona Wildcats head basketball coach Sean Miller is a savvy recruiter.
After the 2010-11 season when he led the Wildcats to a 30-win season and an Elite Eight performance, he was able to secure four players, three of them were ranked by Scout.com in the top ten in the country at their respective positions. Two of those players are still making solid contributions to the team in No. 7 shooting guard Nick Johnson and No. 10 power forward Angelo Chol.
The other two players that Miller released are having a tough time since they left Tucson. Josiah Turner is on his third pro team in six months and Sidiki Johnson is reportedly off the team at Providence College.
This speaks volumes about Miller's judgement of character and the Wildcats are fortunate to be rid of them.
Miller's Wildcats went on to a miserable 2011-12 season finishing with a 23-12, 12-6 Pac-12 record and losing in the first round of the NIT to No. 8 seed Bucknell. This would not hamper Miller on the recruiting trail as he scored arguably one of the best recruiting classes in 2012.
Snagging three 5-star and one 4-star recruit, Miller had once again elevated the Wildcats program to new heights leading them to a 14-0 record and a month straight in the AP top five.
Let's take a look at the future of Arizona Wildcats' basketball and grade Miller's recruiting.
Position: Small Forward
Ranking: 5-star according to Scout.com and No. 4 SF in the country
Rondae Jefferson from Chester, Penn. is going to make an immediate impact for the Wildcats.
The five-star recruit is ranked No. 16 on the ESPN 100 as well as the top recruit out of Pennsylvania and the No. 5 small forward in the country.
Jefferson will fill in nicely for the departing Solomon Hill and might even exceed the current production of the starting forward. Jefferson has a dynamic range and can also play shooting guard as well as small forward if coach Sean Miller opts to not have him play the power forward position.
Miller told Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star that he was ecstatic about the new recruits in Jefferson, and Miller said that Jefferson is a physical player and a winner from one of the most competitive regions in the country, where he has led his team to 58-straight victories. He also said this to say of Jefferson in comparison to Hill:
He’s a warrior. He’s similar to Solomon in that he can do a lot of things. He can handle the ball, he has a chance to be a great defensive player, he’s almost 6'7" and long, very unselfish, can pass and I think he is a player who is a great teammate. He can be at a lot of different spots. His versatility is the greatest thing that he has going for him.
Position: Shooting Guard
Pitts is huge at the shooting guard position and has a great eye for the basket regardless of where he is. He can stop and pop from anywhere on the court or turn on a dime and drive the lane. Coach Miller said about Pitts:
The attributes that we love about him as a player is he’s a great passer, very skilled shooter and can play at more than one position.
Although there is only two recruits committed to Arizona this year, it is still ranked as the No. 17 class in the country according to Scout.com.
They are once again battling a familiar foe in the UCLA Bruins who have the No. 16 class with three players, all of which are ranked in the top 100.
While the Wildcats may never reach the lofty heights of recruiting set forth by the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas, they need to at least be the best in the Pac-12.
There are currently two players on the Arizona bench that are chomping at the bit to get into a game for Coach Miller and the Wildcats.
Position: Point Guard
The junior transfer student from Pittsburgh that played at Duquesne will be a great fill-in for the 'Cats with the departure of Mark Lyons. The 2011 Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year ranked fourth nationally in steals and had the sixth-highest assist-to-turnover ratio, something that Lyons has been struggling with.
Position: Power Forward
Korcheck is a local Tucson product and the first junior college student from Tucson recruited in over 30 years, so there must be something that Miller likes in this kid. The power forward position is log-jammed with three top-ranked players vying for minutes in Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Angelo Chol. It is unclear what kind of contribution Korcheck will be able to make in his two remaining years.
Position: Point Guard
Jackson-Cartwright is from Los Angeles and was being heavily recruited by UCLA and Gonzaga. He visited Tucson this past weekend and committed to Coach Miller on Sunday.
Eric Cooper, Jr.
Position: Shooting Guard
Cooper committed to Arizona last year alongside LaVerne Lutheran teammate Grant Jerrett. Cooper is now playing for St. Anthony High School in Los Angeles and is still as committed today as he was over two years ago.
Pulling big time recruits from the hotbed of Los Angeles is great for Miller and a definite step in the right direction. They are still considered to be in the hunt for the best player to come out of California in Aaron Gordon, but we know all too well about how crowded the team is at the power forward position.
Another big state that Miller needs to do well in is Texas. The 2014 class, according to ESPN.com has several top-ranked players coming out of Texas including the the No. 1 and No. 3 small forwards in Justise Winslow and Justin Jackson. Arizona has made offers to both juniors.
The highest-rated player out of Arizona, power forward Payton Dastrup from Mesa has received offers from eight schools including Arizona, Arizona State, BYU and Florida. A commitment from Dastrup would be huge and ensure that the best players in Arizona stay in Arizona.