Arizona basketball recruiting classes

Rating Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting classes: 1978-1980 (Fred Snowden years)

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CURRENT WILDCAT TARGETS

Class of 2015
Ivan Rabb, PF, 6’11”, 210, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd
Rabb is athletic with an impressive wing span (7’4″). He has speed and lateral quickness to protect the basket. He can also run the floor and set up for a high-percentage shot before the opponent can set his defense. A majority of his shots come inside the paint.

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SERIES LINKS

Fred Snowden era (1972-1982)
— Lute Olson era (1983-2007)
— Sean Miller era (2009-present)

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The Arizona Wildcats’ next three recruiting classes (1978-80) became unfortunately underdeveloped, which ultimately cost Fred Snowden his job in 1982.

Leon Wood (Class of 1979) and Jeff Collins (1980), two of the better players among the 15 players recruited in these groups, finished their careers elsewhere. None are four-star talents although Ron Davis and Frank Smith Jr. proved themselves to be quality contributors. Note: My rating system applies to their Arizona careers, not high school.

Not one of the seven-man 1978 class emerges as a reliable player, which was a tough situation for Snowden to overcome because of the large group. Arizona was basically forced to start over again as it headed from the WAC to the Pac-10 in the 1978-79 season.

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Another interesting angle with these three groups (1978-1980): Only five of the 15 players who signed completed four- or five-year careers at Arizona. They include Smith, John Belobraydic, Donald Mellon, Charles Miller and Harvey Thompson.

That is not exactly a who’s who of Arizona basketball, although Smith was one of Snowden’s better players toward the end.

Thompson, a Cholla grad, was retained by Lute Olson for his senior year after Olson’s hire in 1983. Thompson attended Olson’s retirement ceremony in 2009. Although he did not become one of Arizona’s elite, Thompson remained loyal to Olson and the program.

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Head coach: Fred Snowden

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Developments: Greg Hawthorne, Donald Mellon and Michael Zeno are highly-regarded recruits but nothing materializes from this group
NBA draft picks (0): None.
All-conference selections (0): None.
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: None.
Three years later (1980-81): Arizona finishes 13-14 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-10. It could be worse if not for earlier talent such as Robbie Dosty and Russell Brown.
Rating: 1.1 out of 5 stars. Comment: One of Arizona’s most under-achieving classes which affects Snowden’s momentum for a longer career.

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Recruits.78

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Developments: This class has talent with Leon Wood, Frank Smith Jr. and Ron Davis but it evolves to be good, not great. Wood (a missed opportunity for the program) transfers to Cal State-Fullerton after his freshman year and is later drafted in the first round. Davis and Smith are solid players but not great enough to save Snowden.
NBA draft picks (3): Davis (1981/fourth round/79th pick/Washington), Smith (1983/eighth round/177th pick/Portland) and Wood (1984/first round/10th pick/Philadelphia)*.
All-conference selections (1): Davis 1980-81.
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: None.
Three years later (1981-82): Arizona finishes its worst season under Snowden at 9-18. Snowden loses his position and is reassigned within the athletic department.
Rating: 2.0 stars out of 5. Comment: If Wood stays entire career, he would be a five-star player. After transferring one season into his career, Wood only gets one star, which tremendously affects this standing of this class.
*–After transferring to Cal State-Fullerton

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Recruits.79

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Developments: Three from this class do not last more than two seasons at Arizona. Jeff Collins, who averages 9.2 points in 40 games in his first two seasons, transfers to UNLV. He helps the Rebels to a No. 1 ranking in 1982-83 while Arizona suffers through a 4-24 season. Harvey Thompson (Cholla) and Greg Cook (Sunnyside) are local players who have trouble flourishing. Ricky Walker leads Arizona in assists as a sophomore but leaves in 1982 when Snowden is forced to resign.
NBA draft picks (1): Collins (1984/fourth round/82nd pick/Phoenix).**
All-conference selections: None.
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: None.
Three years later (1982-83): Arizona finishes 4-24 in Ben Lindsey’s only season at Arizona. None of these recruits are around for that debacle.
Rating: 1.5 stars out 5. Comment: Similar to Wood, Collins is a missed opportunity for Arizona and Snowden.
**–After transferring to UNLV

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Recruits.80

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This list will grow in the series until it reaches 20 classes and will include only the Top 20 classes (AllSportsTucson.com graphic)

This list will grow in the series until it reaches 20 classes and will include only the Top 20 classes (AllSportsTucson.com graphic)

Star ratings of Arizona's top recruits since 1972. Players with at least three stars only listed (AllSportsTucson.com graphic)

Star ratings of Arizona’s top recruits since 1972. Players with at least three stars only listed. Stars based on performance at Arizona (AllSportsTucson.com graphic)

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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