Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats recruiting target Bailey learns more about life during recruiting process


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Brendan Bailey comes from an athletic family and it shows on the court (Dream Vision photo)

Brendan Bailey comes from an athletic family and it shows on the court (Dream Vision photo)

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Life is not always fair, so imagine the incongruities that can come in the often cutthroat ways of college basketball recruiting.

Brendan Bailey, who has not yet started his senior year at American Fork High School in Highland, Utah, has already experienced the tribulations that a pro goes through in the business side of the sport.

Coaches are here today, bought out tomorrow. Players come and go with no allegiances, many of them forced to think of alternatives.

Bailey, a 6’7″ and 190-pound wing, is in that situation after Arizona State fired its basketball coach of nine years, Herb Sendek, almost four months ago. Once committed to the Sun Devils because of his relationship with Sendek, Bailey is now a free agent (a pro’s term) because he seeks a similar kind of bond with a coach that he shared with Sendek.

“I’m taking my time now with the (recruiting) process,” Bailey told me Wednesday night after a game with Dream Vision in the Adidas Uprising tournament at Cashman Center. “I learned a lesson that it’s best to weigh all of my options and not rush into something.”

Bailey has a support staff at home that is unlike most families. His parents are Thurl Bailey, a North Carolina State legend and 12-year NBA veteran, and Sindi Bailey, a standout player at Utah Valley State College. She met Thurl in 1989 while working at one of the elder Bailey’s basketball camps in Salt Lake City.

Thurl and Sindi can relate to all that comes with their son’s recruitment, having made the important decision of their own about where to play college basketball. Brendan’s change of course because of Sendek’s firing is something they all are working their way through.

His sister, BreElle, is also a junior volleyball player at ASU, which further complicated his decision to re-open his recruitment.

“(Sendek’s firing) was a little tough on him because my son is really into relationships,” Thurl said while standing with his family at Cashman Center. “He makes connections with people right away. There was no question that some of it had to with his sister going there to play volleyball, but ultimately it was that coaching staff led by Herb.

“Herb was at everything. His assistants came with him or he came by himself. It just clicked right away.”

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Brendan described the situation with Sendek’s firing as a “difficult time”.

“I knew I had to start the process over again to see what was out there,” he said.

He spoke with new ASU coach Bobby Hurley, whom he knew little about as a coach. Thurl mentioned Hurley was understanding of his son’s decision to de-commit from the program. ASU remains a possibility to land Brendan among a growing list of other programs, including Gonzaga, Utah, Oregon State, North Carolina State, and the latest to join the list: Michigan.

“Arizona is on that list,” Thurl added. “I believe he is going to make an unofficial visit there in the coming month (August).

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“I don’t think you can not be interested. I mean, think about it, Sean Miller, the success that they’ve had there in basketball. The business of basketball is you want to win and you want to be on a winning program, so the natural instinct is, ‘Yeah, wow, they want me? I’m gonna go look.'”

Once it was known Brendan de-committed from ASU, Miller and other coaches were on the line to Thurl and Brendan inquiring about his services. Miller and assistants Joe Pasternack and Mark Phelps have observed Brendan in the first two days of the Adidas Uprising tournament here.

Miller shares a past and a friendship with Sendek as an assistant under him at North Carolina State, where Thurl was part of Jimmy Valvano’s national title team of 1983. Thurl told me Miller’s bond with Sendek was not one of the many factors why his son has become interested with the Wildcats.

“I like what coach Miller has done there and their style of play,” Brendan said. “I like their coaches. It’s a great program. They have a great tradition.”

If anybody knows about his son’s strengths and weaknesses, it is Thurl, who in addition to playing in the NBA as a 6’11” post player, also played four years professionally in Greece and Italy.

Scout.com lists Brendan’s strengths as being an aggressive scorer, quality mid-range scorer and the ability to shoot well off the dribble. The areas of improvement listed include decision making and his strength overall because of his wiry build.

The complete rundown:

“Brendan Bailey is an aggressive scorer who will be able to play both the two and three at the next level. His best weapon is his ability to shoot it off the bounce and he’s a guy who can really score off of one and two dribble pull-ups. He’s best from midrange where he can hit jumpers or floaters. Not just a midrange shooter, Bailey can hit threes or get to the basket. He needs to get stronger and continue to improve his shot selection.”

His father’s assessment:

“I try not to critique him based on when I was his age because he is three times the player I was at that age. He’s a totally different player. He’s got great ball-handing abilities. Amazing shooter. Mid-range game is there which I think is missing in the game of basketball. His weakness, and he’s working on it, is getting to the basket and that comes with strength and confidence. I think college coaches are looking at defensively is can you guard your position? I think he does a good job as a three-man doing that. That will get better as he get some strength also.”

Brendan said he finds great value of coming from an athletic family on and off the court. His parents and sister know what it takes to compete at the collegiate level. What means most to him is how they relate to him on a personal level.

That bond helped him move on from his de-commitment from ASU after Sendek was let go.

“My dad was a great player, but to me, he’s like a good friend,” Brendan said. “He’s a great guy. It means a lot that I can go to him and my mom about anything and they are always there.”

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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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