Vargas’ recruitment by Arizona stalls because of differing agendasby Javier Morales on May. 10, 2010, under Sports
When a recruit and his suitor go separate ways, that means their respective agendas are too contrasting.
That appears to be the case in Arizona’s recruitment of former Florida center Eloy Vargas, who reportedly will not visit the UA campus this weekend after all.
From what I understand, this is Vargas’ position (note that Vargas has not returned my phone calls or text messages): He is about to play for his third school in as many years, and he is thinking about improving his professional stock.
From an individual standpoint, the direction makes sense for Vargas, who suffered through minor injuries and academic concerns in his lone season with the Gators. He wants to seize the golden opportunity as quickly as possible.
From a team standpoint, or team frame-of-mind standpoint, it does not make sense for UA coach Sean Miller.
It has been reported that Vargas is visiting Seattle because Charles Garcia prospered into an NBA prospect there in basically one season after transferring from a JC. He originally signed with Washington but did not qualify. That is true that he evolved into more of a prospect at Seattle, but there is more to that.
Garcia evolved into a scorer by getting the green light from new coach Cameron Dollar, who is promising the same to Vargas.
It does not matter that Vargas would not play on national or regional television for most of the season. Garcia, a potential second-round draft pick, according to DraftExpress.com, did not need the television exposure to become noticed by scouts.
Why else would Vargas visit Seattle?
Dollar is no dummy. He does not want to coach at Seattle long. He wants immediate success to move on to a bigger spot. By showcasing players like Garcia and Vargas, he will move up the ladder quicker for two reasons: He will have the reputation of developing NBA-caliber players and his recruiting success would be magnified.
In short, Dollar could not care less about giving the ball to Vargas often, so Vargas can average close to 20 points a game similar to Garcia. With Garcia gone, Vargas can step right in and impress the same scouts.
Miller, on the other hand, is the caretaker of a storied program that is in search of itself after Lute Olson instilled a family atmosphere during the glory years. Miller’s Xavier teams were not all about Five-Star recruits and surefire NBA prospects. He coached an Elite Eight team with players who were in sync from the No. 9 guy in the rotation to the leading scorer.
One of Xavier’s top players in the Elite Eight season — Derrick Brown — redshirted as a freshman to further develop. It’s no wonder why Miller gushed about Butler during all those national radio spots preceding the Final Four.
The same debate over Miller’s recruitment of Lance Stephenson (or the lack thereof) is apparent in the latest development concerning Vargas’ recruitment. Do you sacrifice the program-building philosophy by going after the immediate season-building direction?
Many recruiting enthusiasts suggest Miller take on Vargas even if the promising forward aspires to play professionally after one season. By signing Vargas, Arizona can enjoy more immediate success and create an aura about the program faster, thus attracting more high-profile recruits next year and beyond. In other words, they believe Miller should follow the John Calipari doctrine of recruiting.
Calipari’s way works at Kentucky because the program is traditionally more popular than Arizona, and he has a history of attracting top-notch recruits who can progress to the next level after a year or two. Calipari goes on to the next pro-caliber prospect, knowing the player can leave abruptly like the one before. However, Calipari also knows that prospect has a better chance of getting him to the Final Four at a quicker rate (Derrick Rose anyone?).
Miller is not in the same position because Arizona is not in the same position. He must recruit accordingly. Miller is also the type of coach who would rather see Kyryl Natyazhko become a positive influence in practice and develop into a force at the post, rather than take on a new frontcourt player with an individual agenda.
According to Vargas’ AAU coach, Kenny Gillion, grades are not a concern with his former player. Gillion told me last month that Vargas was a straight-A student at Miami-Dade Junior College this year. If Vargas has no academic concerns, than the reason why Arizona and Vargas have separated can be traced to different agendas — Vargas wants to be showcased and Miller desires a player who first and foremost wants Arizona to be on top of the Pac-10 again.
Vargas’ willingness to follow in Garcia’s footsteps (or extended minutes and field-goal attempts) with an obscure Seattle program makes his intentions all the more obvious. You can’t blame Vargas if he believes he’s at the stage of his career in which he must be noticed by NBA scouts now.
You also must understand Miller’s viewpoint that he is responsible for building Arizona back to prominence, and the only way to do that is with players sharing a common goal.