Analyzing Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting classes since 1972by Javier Morales on Feb. 17, 2011, under Sports
Here’s a look of each Arizona high school and junior college recruiting class since Fred Snowden was hired in 1972 and how the Wildcats fared three years later (future NBA draft picks are italicized, transfers from other programs such as Chris Mills and recruits who never played at Arizona, i.e. Brandon Jennings are not included):
Head coach: Fred Snowden
1972: Ron Allen, Dave Burns, Al Fleming, John Irving, Eric Money, Coniel Norman, Jim Rappis and James Wakefield. Three years later (1974-75): The UA finishes 22-7 and is selected to the National Commissioner’s Invitational Tournament. You can argue that Money, Norman, Fleming and Rappis are the best foursome recruiting class the Wildcats have ever seen based on pure talent. Rating (scale 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest): 9.
1973: Bob Aleksa, Bob Elliott, Jerome Gladney, Len Gordy, Herman Harris, Gary Harrison and Steve Kanner. Three years later (1975-76): The UA finishes 24-9, wins the WAC title and loses in the 1976 Elite Eight to UCLA. Elliott is the UA’s career scoring leader before Sean Elliott (no relation) breaks his record. Herman Harris’ scoring average might have increased by four points if a three-point line exists back then. Rating: 8.
1974: Tom Ehlmann, Mitch Jones, Tim Marshall, Gilbert Myles, Phil Taylor. Three years later (1976-77): The UA finishes 21-6 and loses in the first round of the 1977 NCAA tournament (the last time the UA made the NCAA tournament under Snowden). Rating: 4.
1975: Larry Demic, Ron Fuller, Brian Jung and Sylvester Maxey. Three years later 1977-78): The UA finishes 15-11. Demic is a first-round draft pick in 1979. Rating: 6.
1976: Kenny Davis, Joe Nehls and Tommy Williams. Three years later (1978-79): The UA finishes 16-11, the last time the Wildcats have a winning record for six years. Rating: 3.
1977: Russell Brown, Robby Dosty, Steve Lake and John Smith. Three years later (1979-80): The UA finishes 12-15. Brown remains the school’s career leader in assists with 810 (no other player has more than 700). Rating: 5.
1978: John Belobraydic, Ray Donnelly, Greg Hawthorne, John Hutcherson, Donald Mellon, Charles Miller and Michael Zeno. Three years later (1980-81): The UA finishes 13-14. Hawthorne, Mellon and Zeno are highly-regarded recruits but nothing materializes from this group.Rating: 3.
1979: Ron Davis, David Mosebar, Frank Smith Jr. and Leon Wood. Three years later (1981-82): The UA finishes 9-18 in Snowden’s last season. Wood transfers to Cal State-Fullerton after his freshman year and is later drafted in the first round. After extremely impressive recruiting classes his first couple of seasons, Snowden never really sustains that level of success and the UA gradually declines. This class is good, however, with Davis, Smith and Wood. Rating: 7.
1980: Jeff Collins, Greg Cook and Ricky Walker. Three years later (1982-83): The UA finishes 4-24 in Ben Lindsey’s only season at Arizona. None of these recruits are around for that debacle. Rating: 1.
1981: Brock Brunkhorst, Mark Jung, Jack Magno and John Vlahogeorge. Three years later (1983-84): The UA finishes 11-17 in Olson’s first season. The only player from this class on Olson’s first team is Brunkhorst. Rating: 1.
Head coach: Ben Lindsey
1982: Troy Cooke, Ken Ensor, David Haskin, Todd Porter, Greg Scott, Greg Taylor, Morgan Taylor and Puntus Wilson. Three years later (1984-85): The UA finishes 21-10 and returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1977. Only Haskin and Morgan Taylor are there to experience it. Scott, Wilson and Porter are not retained by Olson. Rating: 1.
Head coach: Lute Olson
1983: Van Beard, Steve Kerr, Eddie Smith, Michael Tait and Pete Williams. Three years later (1985-86): The UA finishes 23-9 and wins its first Pac-10 title with Kerr as a captain. Olson credits Williams as being one of the best rebounders he’s ever coached. Rating: 8.
1984: Jon Edgar, Bruce Fraser, Rolf Jacobs, Craig McMillan and Joe Turner. Three years later (1986-87):The UA finishes 18-12 partly because Kerr is forced to redshirt with a knee injury. McMillan is first McDonald’s All-American recruited by Olson to Arizona. Rating: 5.
1985: Anthony Cook, Eric Cooper, Sean Elliott, Ken Lofton and Bruce Wheatley. Three years later (1987-88): The UA finishes 35-3 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10. It reaches its first Final Four in school history. Elliott is the Pac-10 Player of the Year. He eventually breaks Lew Alcindor’s conference scoring record. Elliott and Cook are drafted in the first round in 1989. Note: Cooper’s son, Eric Cooper Jr., is a Class of 2013 prospect who is being recruited by Arizona. Rating: 9.
1986: Jud Buechler, Brian David, Harvey Mason and Tom Tolbert. Three years later (1988-89): The UA finishes 29-4 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10 the second straight year. Buechler goes on to the NBA and wins three titles with the Bulls. Rating: 7.
1987: Matt Muehlebach, Sean Rooks and Mark Georgeson. Three years later (1989-90): The Wildcats become co-champs of the Pac-10 regular season and the conference tournament titlist. Muehlebach, one of Olson’s most steady captains, never loses a home game in his career. Georgeson transfers to Pepperdine after freshman season. Rooks evolves into an All-Pac-10 center his senior year followed by 12 seasons in the NBA with Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta, the Lakers, the Clippers, New Orleans and Orlando. Rating: 7.
1988: Ron Curry, Matt Othick and Wayne Womack. Three years later (1990-91): The UA finishes 28-7 and wins its fourth straight Pac-10 title. Othick and Womack play through their senior seasons. Curry transfers to Marquette after freshman season.Rating: 6.
1989: Casey Schmidt and Ed Stokes. Three years later (1991-92): The UA finishes 24-7 overall, average by its standards. The Wildcats are upset by East Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Stokes is decent but not spectacular as a 7-footer. Rating: 2.
1990: Tony Clark, Kevin Flanagan, Deron Johnson and Khalid Reeves. Three years later (1992-93): The UA finishes 24-4 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10. Kentucky transfer Chris Mills is a captain of the team. Reeves is first N.Y. product recruited by Olson and he is drafted in the first round 1994. Rating: 6.
1991: Sean Allen, Ray Owes and Damon Stoudamire. Three years later (1993-94): The UA finishes 29-6 overall and advances to its second Final Four. Stoudamire becomes Olson’s sixth first-round draft pick in 1995. Rating: 8.
1992: Joseph Blair, Edtrick Bohannon, Reggie Geary, Joe McLean and Corey Williams. Three years later (1994-95): The UA finishes 24-7 and loses in the first round to Miami (Ohio) with Sean Miller as an assistant to Herb Sendek. Bohannon transfers. Blair, Geary, McLean and Williams form another strong nucleus. Rating: 6.
1993: Jarvis Kelley. Three years later (1995-96): The UA finishes 27-6 and loses in the Sweet 16 to Kansas. Kelley transfers after his sophomore season. Rating: 1.
1994: Marty Bartmentloo, Ben Davis, Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon. Three years later (1996-97): The UA finishes 25-9 and wins its first NCAA title. Simon is named the Final Four MVP. Dickerson is a first-round draft choice in 1998. Rating: 8.
1995: Donnell Harris, A.J. Bramlett and Jason Terry. Three years later (1997-98): The UA finishes 30-5 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10. It loses in the Sweet 16 against Utah. Terry is picked in the first round of the 1999 NBA draft,10th overall. Bramlett becomes one of the more reliable UA centers in Olson era. Harris’ career never flourishes. Rating: 5.
1996: Mike Bibby, Quynn Tebbs, Justin Wessel, Bennett Davison and Eugene Edgerson. Three years later (1998-99): The UA finishes 22-7 and loses in the first round to Oklahoma. Bibby is already gone, selected in the first round of the 1998 draft (the highest pick in UA history at No. 2 overall). Tebbs transfers after one season and Wessel is a career reserve. Davison, a JC recruit, and Edgerson are ideal role players. Rating: 7.
1997: Dion Broom. Three years later (1999-2000): The UA’s one-man recruiting class never qualifies academically. The Wildcats start to build steam in 2000 behind next recruiting class and finish 27-7 overall and tied for first in the Pac-10 with 15-3 record.Rating: 1.
1998: Luke Walton, Rick Anderson, Ruben Douglas, Richard Jefferson, Traves Wilson and Michael Wright. Three years later (2000-01): The UA finishes 28-8 and advances to its fourth Final Four. The Wildcats lose to Duke in the title game. Douglas and Wilson already transfer after their freshman year, but Jefferson, Walton (who redshirts in 998) and Wright establish themselves. Jefferson is selected in the first round of the NBA draft in 2001. Walton wins NBA title with Lakers in 2009. Douglas becomes leading scorer in NCAA with New Mexico his senior year. Rating: 8.
1999: Gilbert Arenas, Lamont Frazier, Jason Gardner and Robertas Javtokas. Three years later (2001-02): The UA finishes 24-10, its first season with double-digit losses since 1987. Arenas is an unknown recruit, not sought by other programs. He becomes an NBA all-star. Gardner holds the UA record for career minutes played. Rating: 7.
2000: Travis Hanour. Three years later (2002-03): The UA finishes 28-4 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10. It loses in the Elite Eight to Kansas. Hanour only lasts a year before transferring. Rating: 1.
2001: Will Bynum, Isaiah Fox, Channing Frye, Dennis Latimore, Salim Stoudamire and Andrew Zahn. Three years later (2003-04): The UA finishes 20-10 overall and struggles in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 record. Bynum, Latimore and Zahn all transfer before this season. Frye establishes himself as a first-round pick in the NBA draft in 2005. Stoudamire becomes a deadly perimeter shooter. Rating: 6.
2002: Hassan Adams, Andre Iguodala and Chris Rodgers. Three years later (2004-05): The UA finishes 30-7 and 15-3 in the Pac-10, winning its last conference title. The Wildcats lose in the Elite Eight to Illinois, blowing a 15-point lead with less than 5 minutes remaining. Iguodala becomes a first-round draft pick in 2004. Rodgers gets in Olson’s doghouse and Adams is a solid contributor. Rating: 5.
2003: Mustafa Shakur, Ivan Radenovich and Kirk Walters. Three years later (2005-06): The UA finishes 20-13 overall and loses in the second round to Villanova. Shakur struggles throughout most of his UA career while Walters is injury-plagued. Radenovich, who enters mid-season from Serbia in 2003, gradually improves as a contributor.Rating: 4.
2004: Daniel Dillon, Jawann McClellan, Mohamed Tangara and Jesus Verdugo. Three years later (2006-07): The UA finishes 20-11 and loses in the first round to Purdue. This group never pans out. Verdugo transfers after his freshman year and Tangara transfers before his senior season. Dillon becomes a career reserve while McClellan is beset by personal problems and injuries. Rating: 2.
2005: Fendi Onobun, J.P. Prince and Marcus Williams. Three years later (2007-08): The UA finishes 19-15 under interim coach Kevin O’Neill. Onobun becomes a career reserve. Prince transfers in 2007 and Williams leaves for the NBA the same year but toils in the developmental league since. Rating: 2.
2006: Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise. Three years later (2008-09): The UA finishes 21-14 and is one of the last teams to make the NCAA tournament, extending its streak to 25 years. Hill is selected in the first round of the NBA draft while Budinger slips to the second round after leaving school early. Wise is an All-Pac-10 selection as a senior but his NBA aspirations are immediately unattainable. Rating: 6.
2007: Jerryd Bayless, Jamelle Horne, Zane Johnson, Laval Lucas-Perry and Alex Jacobson. Three years later: The UA finishes 16-15 in 2009-10 and out of the NCAA tournament for the first time in 26 years. Bayless is selected in the first round of the NBA draft after his freshman season in 2008. Johnson and Lucas-Perry transfer (Lucas-Perry is later dismissed from Michigan). Horne’s improvement is stagnant but he becomes a more reliable player as a senior in 2010-11. Jacobson, beset by back problems, plays sparingly throughout his career after redshirting as a freshman. Rating: 3.
2008: Kyle Fogg, Jeff Withey, Brandon Lavender and Garland Judkins. Three years later: The Wildcats finish 30-8 and advance to the Elite Eight with Fogg and Lavender serving as complimentary parts to Derrick Williams’ charge. Under-recruited Fogg starts as a freshman and establishes more minutes as his career moves forward. An All-Pac-12 selection, Fogg becomes Arizona’s most reliable defensive player as a senior. Withey transfers to Kansas before he plays a minute for UA, reacting to Olson’s abrupt retirement. Lavender becomes mostly a career backup. Judkins transfers to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Rating: 3.
Head coach: Sean Miller
2009: Solomon Hill, Lamont “MoMo” Jones, Derrick Williams, Kyryl Natyazhko and Kevin Parrom. Three years later: The Wildcats finish 23-12 overall and out of the NCAA tournament picture in 2011-12. Miller’s first class is ranked No. 12 in the nation by Rivals.com and Scout.com. The Wildcats miss Williams, who was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2009-10 and Player of the Year in 2010-11. He is selected No. 2 in the NBA draft after foregoing his last two years of college. Parrom is beset by injuries and personal trauma for half of his career. Natyazhko has trouble adjusting to college game and moves back to his native Ukraine. Parrom steadily improves to become one of the best reserves and starts during the latter part of his senior season. Hill finishes among Arizona’s top 20 scorers and top 10 rebounders in the program’s history. Jones, the team’s vociferous leader who was instrumental in the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 upset of No. 1-seed Duke, transfers to Iona to be closer to his family in New York. Rating: 7.
2010: Daniel Bejarano, Jesse Perry and Jordin Mayes. Three years later: The Wildcats, ranked as high as No. 3 at one point, finish 27-8 and advance to the Sweet 16 this season. Only Mayes is around, and he plays minimal role backing up senior transfer Mark Lyons. Miller’s second class includes a JC wing player in Perry, a deft shooter in Bejarano and playmaker and leader in Mayes. Perry takes over the starting role from Horne, a senior, early in the 2010-11 season and becomes a productive rebounder as a senior in 2011-12. Mayes struggles with his confidence after showing flashes of promise as a freshman in 2010-11. Bejarano, lacking in defense and unable to land minutes in Miller’s rotation, transfers to Colorado State after his freshman season. Rating: 2. Mayes can change the grade depending on how he fares next season as a senior.
2011: Angelo Chol, Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner and Sidiki Johnson. Three years later: To be determined in 2013-14. Miller’s third class includes one of the best backcourts recruited in the same class at Arizona, rivaling the Gardner and Arenas combination in 1999 and Money and Norman in 1972. Turner is gone, leaving Arizona’s program after suffering disciplinary issues with Miller. Sidiki Johnson did not last half of the season in Tucson after becoming a disciplinary casualty. Nick Johnson emerges as a defensive standout who can provide a spark to Arizona’s transition on offense. Chol, a shot-blocker extraordinaire in high school, has struggled to crack Miller’s primary rotation. Rating (could change by end of next season): 3, because Nick Johnson is lone player of this once-heralded four-player class to make an impact on the program.
2012: Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett and Gabe York. Three years later: To be determined in 2014-15. Miller’s fourth class is rated his best, third in the nation by Rivals.com. The Wildcats have never amassed a class with such talented frontcourt players in one recruiting class. Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett each play important roles as freshmen and were significant in the Wildcats advancing to the Sweet 16. York, struggling defensively, plays minimal minutes as a freshman. Rating (could change by end of 2015): 8. That can improve based on the development of Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett and whether York becomes a factor.
2013: Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts. Three years later: To be determined in 2015-16. Miller lands two more Five-Star recruits and McDonald’s All-Americans in Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson. Recruiting experts compare Gordon’s style at 6-foot-8 to that of Blake Griffin. Hollis-Jefferson is a wing player who can play point if necessary. Pitts is lauded by experts for his tenacious style and high basketball IQ. Miller has one more scholarship to fill if Parrom is not granted a fifth-year of eligibility based on his medical hardship waiver request. Rating (could change by end of 2015): 8.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher and writer Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club winner