Arizona Basketball

Big week ahead for Arizona Wildcats hoops personnel



Drexel transfer Damion Lee will have one season of eligibility left as a graduate transfer (YouTube video capture)

Drexel transfer Damion Lee will have one season of eligibility left as a graduate transfer (YouTube video capture)

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Two important dates this week in Arizona Wildcats basketball could evolve into four with the immediate futures in the balance for Drexel transfer Damion Lee, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd five-star prospect Ivan Rabb, freshman wing Stanley Johnson and junior center Kaleb Tarczewski.

No timetable has been announced for the decisions of Johnson or Tarczewski whether they will turn pro or not. Rabb will announce his decision between the Wildcats and Cal tomorrow at 7 p.m. Lee, a graduate transfer who will be immediately eligible as a senior next season, officially visits Arizona next weekend.

Johnson reportedly is torn between staying at Arizona or leaving as a potential lottery pick for the NBA draft. Social media posts last week indicated Tarczewski has decided to stay for his senior season, but no official word has been released yet.

Two other senior immediate-eligible graduate transfers — San Francisco forward Mark Tollefson and Providence forward Tyler Harris — are also reportedly interested in Arizona.

Sean Miller has 13 scholarships to offer. Based on T.J. McConnell and Matt Korcheck exhausting their eligibility and Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson announcing they will turn pro, here are the 2015-16 players under scholarship (including incoming recruits by position) with their grade classification for next year:

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, sophomore
Justin Simon, freshman

Gabe York, senior
Elliott Pitts, junior
Kadeem Allen, junior
Allonzo Trier, freshman

Stanley Johnson, sophomore
Ray Smith, freshman

Ryan Anderson, senior

Kaleb Tarczewski, senior
Dusan Ristic, sophomore
Chance Comanche, freshman


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*Boston College transfer. Note: Some players committed to Arizona before taking their official visit of the campus. Days: Days elapsed from end of visit to commitment.
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That’s 12 scholarship players, which means the 2015-16 puzzle is far from completion for Miller and his staff to establish 13.

Simon, York and Allen can split time at point guard with Jackson-Cartwright. York, Pitts and Trier can split time at shooting guard. If Miller wants to go small, he could use a three-guard lineup and employ Trier as the third guard alongside a shooting guard and point guard.

Smith, who many recruiting insiders believe would have been a McDonald’s All-American, is coming back from a knee injury that kept him out of competing his senior season with Las Vegas High School. He will play a bulk of minutes at small forward.


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Anderson, a transfer from Boston College who was a third-team All-ACC choice in 2013-14, will mostly man the power forward spot but can also play on the wing if Rabb decides to attend Arizona. The two forward spots have the least amount of depth, especially with the possibility of Johnson leaving.

Lee, a prolific scorer at Drexel (21.4 points a game) who also defends very well, can bolster the wing position at 6’6″ and 200 pounds.

Tollefson and Harris, both athletic players with size who do the dirty work such as defend and rebound, can can add strength to the power forward spot. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman five-star center Stephen Zimmerman has not ruled out Arizona as a destination.

The first domino to fall is Rabb’s decision tomorrow night.

Miller can have two newcomers — Rabb and Lee — by this time next week after Lee finishes his visit to Tucson. Miller and his staff have a good track record of closing out visits with commitments.

Arizona’s 2014-15 roster had four players who opted for Miller’s program after officially visiting other programs. That list includes Anderson (also visited Iowa State), Johnson (Florida, USC and Kentucky), McConnell (Virginia) and Tarczewski (Kansas).

Those who committed to Arizona after officially visiting the campus did so in a short period of time other than Johnson, who committed to the Wildcats a little more than a month after officially visiting Oct. 13, 2013.

Anderson committed a day after visiting last May. Allen took only three days after visiting Oct. 25, 2013. McConnell also took three days to decide. Ristic made his choice a week after his visit last March. Tarczewski made his decision 10 days after his visit in October 2011.

Rabb took an official visit to Arizona’s campus in early January. He did not decide immediately because his recruitment was wide open as a five-star talent. He also wanted to see how lineups could change after this season.

Louisville, Gonzaga, Marquette and Maryland — Lee’s other finalists — will cringe next weekend when he visits McKale Center judging from Miller’s mostly successful past of hosting recruits.

Equally impressive, six Arizona players committed before taking their official visit — Jackson-Cartwright, Pitts, Simon, Smith, Trier and York. They took unofficial trips but their commitment before taking trips elsewhere is an impressive feat by Miller and his staff.

Those who officially visited (Allen, Anderson, Comanche, Johnson, Ristic and Tarczewski) committed to Arizona in an average of less than 10 days (9.2 to be exact) after leaving Tucson.

The re-evolution of the program’s credibility under Miller has allowed for him and his staff to overcome recruiting shortcomings at the outset of his tenure in 2009-2010. Fringe players such as Jarrid Famous (South Florida), James Johnson (Virginia) and Alex Kirk (New Mexico) decided to go elsewhere after visiting Arizona in Miller’s first season.

My how times have changed. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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