UPDATE: Analysis of Arizona’s basketball recruiting classes the last 40 yearsby Javier Morales on Apr. 11, 2012, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category. For a different look at University of Arizona sports, check out Javier’s unique Web site: WILDABOUTAZCATS.net
Of Sean Miller‘s first three recruiting classes since 2009 — which consisted of 12 players — only five remain. Of those five who are slated to be part of the 2012-13 roster, only two have consistently started in their careers. And one of those is a player who just completed his freshman season: Nick Johnson. The other is senior-to-be Solomon Hill.
Gone prematurely from Miller’s first class are Derrick Williams (Miller’s biggest catch who jumped to the NBA after his sophomore season), Lamont “MoMo” Jones (transferred to Iona after his sophomore season), and Kyryl Natyazhko (who announced Wednesday that he will not return for his senior season so he can pursue a professional career overseas).
Daniel Bejarano, from Miller’s second class in 2010, transferred to Colorado State after playing minimal minutes as a freshman. And no longer around from last year’s heralded class is five-star point guard Josiah Turner (who announced Wednesday his intention to transfer) and Sidiki Johnson (who transferred to Providence early this season after spending time in Miller’s doghouse).
Jesse Perry, from the Class of 2010, completed his two-year career after transferring from John A. Logan (Ill.) Community College.
Other than Hill and Nick Johnson, the others who have remained on board include Kevin Parrom from the Class of 2009, Jordin Mayes from the Class of 2010 and Angelo Chol from the Class of 2011.
With Perry going the distance, that means six players — or 50 percent of Miller’s first three classes — left early. Despite this alarming rate of turnover, Miller’s team will be ranked in the top 20 next year. That’s largely because of Miller’s coaching and recruiting ability. His class of 2012 — highlighted by promising big men such as Brandon Ashley, Grant Jarrett and Kaleb Tarczewski — is rated by some experts as the best in the nation.
Will it be the best class Arizona has featured in the last 40 years? Time will tell.
As has become an annual ritual here, I have updated the ratings for each UA recruiting class since the late Fred Snowden was hired in 1972.
The ratings are based on how the recruits fared three years after starting their Wildcat careers (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). Transfers were not included because their addition does not take into account an all-encompassing scouting and recruiting effort from coaches from start to finish to land a prospect:
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: 6.
- 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 decent, however, with Davis, Smith and Wood. Rating: 6.
- 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: 2.
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. Smith is one of the most consistent players to don a Wildcat uniform. 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 has verbally committed to 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: 5.
- 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. Clark transferred to San Diego State and eventually enjoyed a prolonged major-league baseball career. Johnson also transferred. Flanagan emerged as a fan favorite. Reeves is first N.Y. product recruited by Olson and he is drafted in the first round 1994. Rating: 7.
- 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: 7.
- 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: 7.
- 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: Donnell Harris, 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. Harris’ career never flourishes although he plays his best game in Arizona’s victory over Kentucky in the championship. Rating: 8.
- 1995: 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 Elite Eight 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. Rating: 7.
- 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: 9.
- 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: 8.
- 2000: Travis Hanour and Andrew Zahn. 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 and Zahn only last a year before transferring. Rating: 1.
- 2001: Will Bynum, Isaiah Fox, Channing Frye, Dennis Latimore and Salim Stoudamire. Three years later (2003-04): The UA finishes 20-10 overall and struggles in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 record. Bynum and Latimore transfer before the 2003-04 season. Frye establishes himself as a first-round pick in the NBA draft in 2005. Stoudamire becomes a deadly perimeter shooter. Rating: 7.
- 2002: Hassan Adams, Andre Iguodala, Chris Dunn 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. Adams is a solid contributor. Rodgers gets in Olson’s doghouse and is eventually suspended. Dunn is dismissed from the team as a redshirt by the end of his freshman season. Rating: 7.
- 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: 5.
- 2004: Daniel Dillon, Jawann McClellan, Mohamed Tangara and Jesus Verdejo. Three years later (2006-07): The UA finishes 20-11 and loses in the first round to Purdue. This group never pans out. Verdejo 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: 3.
- 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: 7.
- 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. Jacobson plays sparingly throughout his career. Rating: 4.
- 2008: Kyle Fogg, Jeff Withey, Brandon Lavender and Garland Judkins. Three years later: The UA finishes 30-8 in 2010-11 and advance to the Elite Eight, losing to eventual national champion Connecticut. Withey transfers to Kansas without playing a game as a freshman after Olson announces his retirement. Little-known Fogg starts all four years of his career and becomes an All-Pac-10 player. Lavender plays well as a senior but never really flourished. Judkins transfers to Texas-San Antonio. Rating: 3.
Head coach: Sean Miller
- 2009: Solomon Hill, Lamont “MoMo” Jones, Derrick Williams, Kyryl Natyazhko and Kevin Parrom. Three years later: UA finishes 23-12 in 2011-12 and is not invited to the NCAA touranment. It loses in the first round of the NIT to Bucknell at home. Miller’s first class is ranked No. 12 in the nation by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Williams is the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2009-10 and Conference Player of the Year in 2010-11. He is selected No. 2 in the NBA draft after foregoing his last two years of college. Each plays significant minutes as freshmen, although Parrom is beset by injuries and Natyazhko has trouble immediately adjusting to college game. Hill improves year to year, becoming more assertive and consistent. 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. Natyazhko is a career reserve who leaves before his senior season to pursue a pro career in Europe. Rating: 8.
- 2010: Daniel Bejarano, Jesse Perry and Jordin Mayes. Three years later: To be determined in 2012-13. Perry takes over the starting role early in the 2010-11 season and evolves into a bull around the basket despite playing against taller and bigger post players. Mayes becomes one of the more steady, efficient players, but is hampered by injuries late in his sophomore season. Bejarano, who never catches on to Miller’s system, ultimately transfers to Colorado State after his freshman season. Rating (could change by 2013): 6.
- 2011: Angelo Chol, Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner and Sidiki Johnson. Three years later: To be determined in 2013-14. On paper, one of the best class Arizona has attracted. Miller’s third class includes perhaps the best backcourt (Nick Johnson and Turner) recruited in the same class at Arizona, rivaling the Gardner and Arenas combination in 1999 and Money and Norman in 1972. Turner, however, is beset by three separate disciplinary issues and ultimately transfers after the season. Sidiki Johnson transferred to Providence by December because of differences with the coaching staff. Chol is a shot-blocker extraordinaire who is becoming a more refined on the offensive end as well. Rating (could change by 2014): 6.
- 2012: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, Gabe York and Matt Korcheck. Three years later: To be determined in 2014-15. Miller went big with this class in many ways. Recruiting experts are labeling the class the best in the nation. York, a talented shooter with tremendous leaping ability, is the lone perimeter player in the class (Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell must sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules). Tarczewski (7-footer and 220 pounds), Ashley (6-8, 215) and Jarrett (6-10, 220) were all targeted by elite programs. Korcheck, a Cochise College product by way of Sabino High School, chose the UA over Oklahoma. He is a 6-9 and 230-pound strong power forward who will redshirt this season. This could easily turn out to be the best big-man class in UA history. No other group in the last 40 years comes close to the potential of this class in terms of frontcourt players. Rating (could change by 2015): 9.