Analyzing Chol’s final three: Arizona, North Carolina and Kansasby Javier Morales on Feb. 16, 2011, under Sports
Some may argue the last time Arizona challenged Kansas and North Carolina for such a major prize the Wildcats took home the 1997 national championship.
That’s when the UA made history by beating consecutive No. 1 seeds Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky to win the title.
San Diego Hoover High School coach Ollie Goulston announced Tuesday night that his star player, post player Angelo Chol, eliminated Washington and Alabama from consideration and that Arizona, North Carolina and Kansas remain in contention for the Class of 2011 coveted recruit.
Should landing Chol — beating traditional powers North Carolina and Kansas in the process for his services — be mentioned in the same breath as what happened 14 years ago?
That’s debatable, but signing Chol would be a significant development for second-year coach Sean Miller to get Arizona thinking about another feat like what happened in 1997.
Chol, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound, athletic interior player from Sudan, would significantly enhance Arizona’s defensive presence inside heading into the 2011-12 season. He set the all-time national prep record for blocked shots in a season with 337 in 35 games as a sophomore at Hoover in 2008-09.
To go with that aggressive style of defense, Chol is making strides with his footwork on the blocks offensively. He scored 29 points Tuesday to lead Hoover to the San Diego Section Eastern League title (the school’s fourth consecutive league championship) by defeating San Diego High School 69-53. He now has 1,990 points in his Hoover career.
While Arizona and its fans can think of the many ways Chol can contribute to the Wildcats, so too are the Jayhawk and Tar Heel faithful.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Kansas coach Bill Self have pressing needs similar to Miller in terms of their interior presence heading into next season.
Here’s a capsulized look at each of the three programs eagerly anticipating Thursday’s 1:45 p.m. (Tucson time) press conference announcing Chol’s choice.
In the Tar Heels’ favor:
>> Roy Williams is already a Hall-of-Fame coach who has two national championships.
>> The Tar Heels’ program is legendary with 10 national player of the year award winners, including the most popular player in the history of the sport, Michael Jordan
>> North Carolina will need some frontcourt reinforcements in 2011-12 with the likelihood of sophomore power forward John Henson entering the NBA draft. Henson is projected by DraftExpress.com to be selected with the No. 9 pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. The same draft service has Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams as the No. 5 pick overall.
>> Tyler Zeller, a 7-foot, 250-pound, center who is the Tar Heels’ leading scorer with 14.5 points per game, will be a senior next season. Chol would add a more athletic dimension than Zeller to North Carolina’s frontcourt, especially if Henson leaves prematurely.
Potentially working against North Carolina:
>> North Carolina has already signed high-profile power forward James McAdoo, who has similar size as Chol at 6-8, 216. McAdoo, of Norfolk (Va.) Christian School, is a Rivals.com 5-star recruit chosen as a McDonald’s All-American last week. He figures to command playing time immediately.
>> The Tar Heels are still on the trail of New Egypt (N.J.) High School post player Desmond Hubert (6-9, 200). Hubert (rated No. 131 by Rivals.com in the Class of 2011) is not classified as high as McAdoo at No. 8 and Chol at No. 76, but the Tar Heels are still interested. Hubert has reportedly narrowed his choice to Maryland and North Carolina and is possibly willing to redshirt next season, according to the Baltimore Sun.
In the Jayhawks’ favor:
>> Self has established himself among the game’s elite, winning a national championship in 2008 with the Jayhawks. He is also one of four coaches in NCAA Division I history to have led three different teams – Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas – to the NCAA Elite Eight.
>> Kansas leads all NCAA teams with 27 consensus first-team All-American players
>> If the Morris twins — Markieff and Marcus — forego their senior season for the NBA, that would leave a significant void for the Jayhawks’ frontcourt rotation. Both are predicted to be selected near the midway point of the first round.
>> The Jayhawks’ only Class of 2011 recruiting addition includes point-guard prospect Naadir Tharpe, a one-time Arizona recruiting target. Chol would experience playing time without much competition from newcomers if the Morris twins do not return. He is listed as the only Class of 2011 power-forward or post prospect that Kansas is recruiting.
Potentially working against Kansas:
>> Even if the Morris twins leave, Chol will likely have to play behind or share minutes with forward Thomas Robinson and center Jeff Withey (formerly of Arizona). Robinson (6-9, 237) and Withey (7-0, 235) will be juniors next season with plenty of experience in Self’s rotation. They are two of Kansas’ better shooters — Robinson leads the regulars with a 62.6 shooting percentage (77 of 123).
>> Although Chol is the frontcourt focus for the Class of 2011, Self is concentrating on plenty of Class of 2012 standouts who will demand minutes. They include Zach Peters, a power forward prospect from Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian. Peters (6-9, 235) is a Rivals.com 4-Star prospect who has already verbally committed to the Jayhawks. Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer from Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark’s, has already unofficially visited the Kansas campus and is strongly considering the Jayhawks.
>> Perry Ellis a Class of 2012 Rivals.com 5-star power forward prospect from Wichita (Kan.) Heights is a regular unofficial visitor of the Kansas campus and the Jayhawks’ games.
In the Wildcats’ favor:
>> Miller is fast establishing himself as one of the nation’s most promising young coaches (age 42) in the nation. Arizona reportedly will campaign for Miller to be considered for national coach of the year honors this season for turning around a program that was 16-15 a year ago to one that is 21-4 and in strong contention for a Pac-10 title.
>> Arizona may not have a tradition as storied as North Carolina and Kansas, but the Wildcats have a solid history, especially since the Lute Olson era started in 1983. The Wildcats have featured eight consensus All-Americans beginning with Sean Elliott in 1988. That number figures to improve to nine this season with Derrick Williams.
>> Chol would garner many minutes next season because Arizona is void of an interior player with his kind of defensive skills. Williams, whether he stays or not, also lacks in that category. Jesse Perry is more of a finesse player as a mix between a wing and a power forward. Chol’s rebounding ability and improving offensive skills would place him ahead of Arizona’s current post-player talent.
>> Tucson is the closest in proximity to San Diego, which means Chol’s family can see him play more for the Wildcats.
Potentially working against Arizona:
>> Arizona has already signed Class of 2011 power-forward prospect Sidiki Johnson out of Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy. Johnson, fast-improving from knee soreness and a broken foot, should have an impact on Miller’s roster either next season or 2012-13. Johnson (6-8, 220) has a different type of game than Chol, however. He has more of a physical presence, which lends to rebounding positioning.
>> The Wildcats are also attracting Class of 2012 frontcourt standouts such as Grant Jerrett of LaVerne (Calif.) Lutheran and Brandon Ashley of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd. Both are 5-star prospects. Jerrett has already verbally committed and Ashley is strongly considering the Wildcats inasmuch as former AAU teammates Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner have signed with the Wildcats.
What’s interesting about the three teams is that all of them have frontcourt players who will potentially leave for the NBA early: Williams, Henson and the Morris twins. If these players move on to the NBA, what’s obvious for next season is that Chol will immediately be challenged for playing time at North Carolina by Zeller and McAdoo and at Kansas by Robinson and Withey. Who would similarly challenge Chol at Arizona?