Arizona Basketball

Alkins’ commitment gives Miller sixth 5-star recruit in last two years



Source: (compiled by NT-National titles. Note: Class of 2016 not complete until end of spring signing period.
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Why not scream, the Pac-12 coaches are doing that in fear — if not outwardly definitely in their thoughts — about how Sean Miller’s program will drastically fill a void in 2016-17.

Miller will go from a lack of wing players and size on the perimeter to a team with a surplus next season. Because of freshman Ray Smith’s season-ending knee injury before the season started, Allonzo Trier was the only player that resembled a wing on this year’s roster although his skill set is more of a shooting guard.

Almost two months after Alpharetta (Ga.) St Francis point guard/shooting guard prospect Kobi Simmons committed to Arizona, shooting guard-wing Rawle Alkins of Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Christian Academy offered his pledge Monday night to Miller and his primary recruiter Book Richardson. Miller’s long-time assistant was instrumental in landing Alkins, a talent originally from New York City, where Richardson is from. When Simmons’ committed on Jan. 16, he lauded Richardson and their relationship for his decision.

Alkins and Simmons join fellow five-star recruit Lauri Markkanen of Finland in the Class of 2016. Markkanen is not ranked by because he does not play high school basketball in the U.S. but he is listed as a five-star recruit by Scout. Arizona still has a good opportunity of signing five-star small forward Josh Jackson during the spring period.

The addition of Alkins, potential recruitment of Jackson and return of Smith, gives Miller and his staff three wings who could start anywhere. Remember when people were talking last year about how much Arizona’s wing combo of Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson rivaled the best in Wildcat history? Miller does not have that threat this season.


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Trier could also return after testing the NBA waters (remember, players have additional time to assess their worth with input from NBA scouts before having to decide).

Tallying the five-star recruits attracted since Miller’s hire at Arizona in 2009, only Kentucky’s John Calipari (29) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (20) have more than the 48-year-old Arizona coach. UCLA, with the combination of Ben Howland and Steve Alford, is next with 10 followed by North Carolina, Kansas and Texas (each with eight).

Miller’s five-star recruiting is especially impressive inasmuch as he did not sign a five-star recruit in his first two seasons at Arizona. He has drawn the 13 five-star recruits, including this year’s class so far of Alkins, Simmons and Markkanen, in only six years. By contrast, in that same stretch, North Carolina’s Roy Williams has only five five-star recruits and Kansas’ Bill Self has tallied six.

And to think some Arizona fans were fretting when Miller did not have a verbal commitment when this season started after five-star target T.J. Leaf de-committed.

If the Wildcats land Jackson — many recruiting insiders believe Arizona has as good of a chance as anybody — the Class of 2016 will be Miller’s finest. He attracted three five-star recruits in 2012 (Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett) and last year (Trier, Smith and Justin Simon). Never has Arizona featured four or more five-star recruits in one class.

With the influx of talent, Miller’s ability to infuse all of the players into a cohesive group will be put to the test again. Questions will be prevalent during the offseason about how the scholarship spots will be filled. This is how Arizona’s roster looks if every player returns who has eligibility remaining:

Point Guard: Kadeem Allen (Sr.), Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Jr.) and Kobi Simmons (Fr.)

Shooting Guard: Allonzo Trier (Soph.), Justin Simon (Soph.) and Elliott Pitts (Sr.)

Small Forward: Ray Smith (RFr.) and Rawle Alkins (Fr.)

Power Forward: Laurie Markkanen (Fr.)

Center: Dusan Ristic (Jr.) and Chance Comanche (Soph.)

That’s 11 scholarships filled. The possibility is there that Trier will turn pro and Pitts will transfer to a non-Division I school and become eligible immediately elsewhere. If he transfers to a Division I school, he would have to sit half the season of his final year in college basketball.

Source: *-Never attended Arizona. **-Lute Olson on leave of absence.
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With 13 scholarships the limit, Miller may have as many as four to fill if Trier and Pitts do not return. It is obvious with Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski exhausting their eligibility this season, Miller may have his sights on strengthening the frontcourt that presently features three players who are undeveloped at the collegiate level — Ristic, Comanche and Markkanen.

Miller could add depth to power forward and center with a junior college transfer, senior graduate transfer and/or by landing a burgeoning talent such as 6’10” center-power forward Jordy Tshimanga of The MacDuffie School in Springfield, Mass.

It is scary to think that although Miller already has three potential five-star recruits — Simmons and Alkins are not in the fold until they sign in April — he could add to that list with Jackson and round out his class with players who bolster every position.

Moreover, two of Arizona’s primary ballhandlers this season — Jackson-Cartwright and Allen — return next season providing stability at the most important position, point guard.

That’s screamy scary. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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