— Arizona Wildcats’ Class of 2014 small forward target Stanley Johnson matches skill level with mental approach (my blog at TucsonCitizen.com)
— Arizona basketball beat reporter Bruce Pascoe is in Las Vegas reporting on the AAU tournaments for The Arizona Daily Star
LAS VEGAS — Top-rated Class of 2015 power forward prospect Ivan Rabb might grow to 7-2 — the height he claims he will be by the time he’s in college in two years — but can he grow any more in stature?
Recruiting services, such as ESPN.com, have Rabb, currently 6-9 and 205 pounds, rated the best prospect in his class. Arizona is one of his early suitors along with every national power.
“I study a lot of players in order to improve my game,” Rabb said after scoring 23 points in the Oakland Soldiers’ 71-64 win over Team Texas Elite in the Las Vegas Classic on Thursday night. “I try to model my game after Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh or Al Jefferson, players like that.
“I feel like I can be good player inside and extend myself if I have to extend out away from the basket.”
Oakland Soldiers coach Jules Milstead realized how promising of a player Rabb could be at a very young age.
“I found Ivan when he was in the second grade, playing at a park in Oakland,” Milstead told me. “He has come a long way. He still has a long way to go, and that’s the scary part of him.”
Rabb combines mobility with the ability to physically position himself for rebounds. He was dominant around the glass for the Oakland Soldiers against Texas Team Elite, which includes Class of 2015 power forward prospect Elijah Thomas, who is also on Arizona’s radar. Milstead said Rabb can benefit from gaining muscle weight.
Rabb could stand to gain at least 30 pounds by the time he’s a freshman in college in 2015-16.
“Ivan has a huge upside,” Milstead told me. “He’s very active. He’s about 6-9, 6-10. He’s young kid can get to 7 feet or more.
“He can rebound the ball like a machine. He needs to get a little bit stronger. He’s Chris Bosh clone to me. That’s what he is. He can shoot it, block
shots, run the court. He’s another kid with a good attitude.”
Rabb said the work ethic of former Oakland Soldiers teammate Aaron Gordon — an Arizona freshman this season — will have a lasting impact on how he approaches his last two seasons playing for Oakland Bishop O’Dowd High School.
Arizona sophomore Brandon Ashley is another Oakland Soldiers alum who played at Bishop O’Dowd before transferring to Henderson, Nev., Findlay Prep for his senior season.
“Arizona will see how hard of a worker Aaron really is,” Rabb said. “He worked very hard even when he was injured with us last year. He still went out there and was tough.
“Being around him and now being around him (he looked over to Oakland teammate Stanley Johnson) has enabled me to improve a lot as a player.”
Rabb said he first received calls and text messages from UA coach Sean Miller and assistant Joe Pasternack after June 15, when NCAA coaches were allowed to contact prospects heading into their junior seasons.
He mentioned that, with his young age, his recruitment is wide open. He will participate in the Elite 24 event next month in New York City and take the opportunity to “unofficially visit some schools in that area.”
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.