Arizona basketball recruiting classes

Rating Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting classes: 1972-74 (Fred Snowden era)



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

When I started as a blogger at five years ago, I noticed a common theme of Arizona’s basketball recruiting classes. It spurred me to spend countless hours putting together data of the recruiting classes dating to the Fred Snowden era in the early 1970s.

I was driven by the way Sean Miller attracted a credible recruiting class in the few weeks after his hire in April 2009. Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Kyryl Natyazhko provided the program immediate hope after two years of uncertainty with interim coaches during Lute Olson’s leave of absence and retirement saga.

It got me to thinking Fred Snowden and Olson also miraculously amassed one of their best classes in the few weeks after their hire.

My research backed that up. I published the entire list, year by year, from 1972 to 2009. (before I was affiliated with the Web site) used the information and rated their top Arizona recruiting classes from it. Note: The link to the Citizen site in the Bleacher Report article is no longer active because is now only an archived site for select stories.

In this updated effort, I’m breaking it up in three-year segments starting with the start of the Snowden era from 1972-73 through 1974-75. When completed, after analyzing Miller’s recent Class of 2014 effort, my hope is for readers to get a better understanding of how Arizona developed into a national program starting with Snowden. Olson carried it to historic prominence. Miller is proving the program is a time-tested traditional power.

The recruiting data only includes high school and junior college recruiting classes with a rating reflected in how the Wildcats fared three years later.

Transfers from other programs such as Chris Mills and recruits who never played despite signing with Arizona, i.e. Brandon Jennings, are not included. Only players who never stepped foot elsewhere first (because of another’s coach’s initial recruiting effort), and those who actually played for the Wildcats, are listed.

Head coach: Fred Snowden

Developments: John Irving, from Wilimington, Del.,transfers after his freshman season to Hofstra. He becomes the nation’s leading rebounder in 1975. Snowden’s recruiting ties to Detroit as a Michigan assistant enables him to bring Eric Money and Coniel Norman with him. Money, Norman, Al Fleming and Jim Rappis (all standout recruits from Big Ten country) are the best foursome in a class for the Wildcats based on pure talent. Fleming and Rappis are essential to Arizona’s Elite Eight appearance in 1976. Ron Allen, Norman and Money become sophomore tri-captains in 1973-74. Money and Norman declare hardship for the NBA draft after two years at Arizona.

NBA draft picks (4): Money (1974/second round/33rd pick/Detroit), Norman (1974/third round/37th pick/Philadelphia), Fleming (1976/second round/30th pick/Phoenix) and Rappis (1976/fifth round/Milwaukee).
All-conference selections (2): Norman (1972-73 and 1973-74 in WAC) and Fleming (1974-75 and 1975-76 in WAC).
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: None.
Three years later (1974-75): Arizona finishes 22-7 and is selected to the National Commissioner’s Invitational Tournament.


Rating: 2.9 out of 5 stars. Comment: This talented class has four NBA draft picks. It includes one of Arizona’s best backcourts (Money and Norman), top rebounders (Fleming) and most productive leaders (Rappis) in the history of the program.

Developments: Bob Elliott becomes Arizona’s career scoring leader before Sean Elliott (no relation) breaks his record. Herman Harris’ career scoring average of 12.7 points might have increased by four points if a three-point line exists back then. Jerome Gladney averages 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in his career yet is selected in the eighth round of the NBA draft in 1977. Harrison is Arizona’s leading assist man as a senior in 1976-77.
NBA draft picks (3): Bob Elliott (1977/second round/42nd pick/Philadelphia), Harris (1977/second round/43rd pick/Philadelphia) and Gladney (1977/eighth round/164th pick/San Antonio).
All-conference selections (2): Bob Elliott (1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77 in WAC) and Harris (1976-77).
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: Bob Elliott (1975-76, 3rd team, Basketball Weekly and Helms Foundation/Citizen’s Savings; 1976-77, 1st team, Helms Foundation/Citizen’s Savings).
Three years later (1975-76): Arizona finishes 24-9, wins the WAC title and loses in the 1976 Elite Eight to UCLA.
Rating: 2.6 stars out of 5. Comment: Bob Elliott belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Arizona hoops and Harris is one of the best shooters from the perimeter.

Developments: Phil Taylor, a solid forward, notches more than 1,000 points in his career. Gilbert Myles leads Arizona in assists in 1974-75 as a freshman but does not become an elite player.
NBA draft picks (1): Taylor (1978/10th round/198th pick/Denver).
Conference players of the year: None.
All-Americans: None.
Three years later (1976-77): Arizona finishes 21-6 and loses in the first round of the 1977 NCAA tournament (the last time Arizona makes the NCAA tournament under Snowden).
Rating: 1.6 stars out 5. Comment: Taylor is one of Snowden’s better players who started in the 1976 Elite Eight game against UCLA and Myles shows flashes of being good but not much else to report from this class.




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