Hiring Charlie Ragle is one more in-state recruiting victory for Arizonaby Andy Morales on Dec. 22, 2011, under Sports
We already knew what ESPN only realized last week when they came out with their list of the top five NBA players to come out of an Arizona high school.
1. Mike Bibby (Shadow Mountain)
2. Sean Elliott (Cholla)
3. Richard Jefferson (Moon Valley)
4. Channing Frye (St. Mary’s)
5. Jerryd Bayless (St. Mary’s)
I know what you are thinking. Where does former Pueblo star Lafayette “Fat” Lever fit in all this?
Well, he would have made my list, probably at number two behind Sean Elliott with Mike Bibby third, but the point has already been made: The University of Arizona has had a tradition of besting Arizona State when it comes to homegrown athletes.
People up north tried to make a case for Estrella Foothills standout Corey Hawkins being the best ever from Arizona simply because he broke Bibby’s high school scoring record. It was a laughable and completely ridiculous effort.
Let me repeat myself: It was, and is, completely ridiculous. Laughable.
It took Hawkins four years at a 3A school to do what Bibby did in just three years at a 5A school.
Hawkins lasted one year at Arizona State before transferring to UC Davis last year. I don’t think I need to remind our media friends from Maricopa County what Bibby did his freshman year at Arizona.
But, all of that is for another time.
What Lute Olson did to a variety of run-of-the-mill coaches at ASU, Wildcat athletic director Greg Byrne did to ASU’s Lisa Love with the hiring of football coach Rich Rodriguez.
The cash-strapped Sun Devils went with second-tier coach Todd Graham in response. To Graham’s credit, he is trying to recruit the many seniors from the Phoenix area who have understandably committed elsewhere.
But, what can be said about basketball, can also be said for football.
The list of Phoenix-area standouts who jumped ship to play for Arizona is a strong one with Bobby Wade (Desert Vista), Rob Waldrop (Horizon), Trung Canidate (Central), Dana Wells (Brophy) and Byron Evans (South Mountain) leading the way.
ASU has also had some success with Chris Hopkins (Salpointe), Ralph Zarate (Tucson) and Mario Bates (Amphi) but their strength had been in trying to get their own kids to stay home, even with some of the best opting for Arizona.
Graham inherited a roster that only includes one Tucson player on it and former Santa Rita receiver J. J. Holliday has not been given any kind of chance this year. To their credit, ASU does sport 34 Phoenix athletes.
Arizona, by contrast, has 12 Phoenix-area recruits on its roster and 10 players from Tucson. The big recruiting prize of the last several years, of course, was Canyon del Oro running back Ka’Deem Carey.
Carey’s choice of Arizona over ASU should have been a signal up north that changes needed to be made earlier and, if Chaparral’s Davonte’ Neal follows Urban Meyer to Ohio State as is rumored, then that would have to go as another victory for Arizona.
In recruiting battles, players who skip your rival are almost as good as the ones who come to you.
Then, without much warning, Rodriguez shot off another shot when he hired Chaparral’s head coach Charlie Ragle to be his assistant director of football operations and liaison for high school relations.
Ragle spent six years at Chaparral and won the last three state championships. His stature is so high in Arizona prep circles that his hiring may turn out to be the biggest recruiting prize of the season for Rodriguez.
Both Arizona and ASU have lost prize recruits to other states but the hiring of Ragle appears to be part of an effort to slow that trend down for the Wildcats and it frees up Rodriguez a bit so he can focus his attention on recruiting prizes from other states.