Arizona Basketball

Las Vegas area becoming hotbed of talent for Arizona Wildcats recruiting

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Stephen Zimmerman

Stephen Zimmerman, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman

HENDERSON, Nev. — Late in the July evaluation recruiting period, appropriately in Las Vegas, I asked Bishop Gorman High School senior center Stephen Zimmerman about the amount of talent increasing in this surrounding area.

“I think it’s getting a lot better, especially with kids in my class,” Zimmerman, who celebrates his birthday today, told me when he was playing with the AAU Oakland Soldiers. “I think we have a loaded class. There’s a lot of players here overall, a lot of them at Gorman, too.”

Zimmerman is one of six Class of 2015 Las Vegas-area prospects who is listed among the top 100-rated players as designated by Scout.com. The list includes two Arizona Wildcats commits — No. 12 Ray Smith (6’7″ and 185-pound small forward at Las Vegas High School) and No. 13 Allonzo Trier (6’4″ and 200-pound guard at Henderson Findlay Prep).

Allonzo Trier, Henderson (Nev.)  Findlay Prep

Allonzo Trier, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep

Zimmerman, 6’11” and 225, is next at No. 14. Smith, Trier and Zimmerman are five-star recruits. The Wildcats have a commitment from another five-star recruit: Combo guard Justin Simon of Temecula Valley (Calif.) High School. If Zimmerman joins this group to make it four, it will be the most five-star recruits in one class assembled at Arizona.

One of Zimmerman’s teammates at Gorman, post player Chase Jeter, the No. 9-rated player, has committed to Duke. Zach Collins, a Class of 2016 power forward who comes off the bench to replace either Jeter or Zimmerman, reportedly received a scholarship offer from Arizona in April.

Findlay, a nationally-recognized program, is loaded with Division I talent. The Wildcats are recruiting Class of 2016 Findlay prospects Derryck Thornton (6’2″, 165, point guard) and Justin Jackson (6’6″, 185, power forward).

Arizona coach Sean Miller and assistant Book Richardson are scheduled to have an in-home visit with Zimmerman tomorrow. Zimmerman is expected to complete his campus recruiting visits before making his choice. Arizona is his last stop Nov. 7-8, which is homecoming weekend.

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(Findlay Prep photo/graphic)

(Findlay Prep photo/graphic)

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He will also visit North Carolina (Oct. 3), Kansas (Oct. 10), Kentucky (Oct. 17) and UCLA (Oct. 24). Hometown UNLV and Indiana are also under consideration by Zimmerman and his parents (who have an active role with their son in the recruiting process).

“My parents and I study up on coaches and stuff,” Zimmerman told me. “Playing for Coach Miller this summer (with the under-18 U.S. team in Colorado Springs, Colo.) was really cool to see how he coaches and how he can transfer his coaching style to the players he’s had in college to us high school kids.

“But I was not surprised by anything from him. I already knew how good he is and what he’s all about.”

If Zimmerman commits to Arizona he will become the first Gorman grad to play for the Wildcats since Matt Othick in 1988. Another former Arizona player, the late Bison Dele (known as Brian Williams when he was with the Wildcats) played at Gorman in 1986-87.

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The Wildcats in recent years have drawn talent from Findlay Prep, including Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Class of 2014 recruit Victor Craig.

Other Findlay prospects from this year’s senior class includes center Horace Spencer (rated No. 60 by Scout.com) and shooting guard Jaylen Poyser. Spencer has committed to Auburn. Poyser is considering Boston College, Cal, Michigan and Syracuse, among others.

The best prospect out of all of these players in the Las Vegas area might be the youngest — Class of 2017 guard Troy Brown, who at 6’5″ and 180 pounds can handle the ball like a skilled point guard. Brown attends Las Vegas Centennial High School and is already being recruited by all the major programs.

“I am from Vegas, so although all of my options are open right now, to be honest, UNLV will always be in my top five,” Brown told me in July. “They are my home school so they are always in there, but I always have my options open.

“Arizona is a great program. I like Coach (Damon) Stoudamire and the coaches over there and how they play. They play on a fast tempo and push the ball and that’s how I like to play. They’re a grat program, but like I said all of my options are open.”

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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