The Class of 2010 players from California who showed interest in the UA early in the recruiting process included small forward Anthony Brown of Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View, shooting guard Keala King of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, and power forwards Richard Solomon of Los Angeles Price and James Johnson of Wildomar (Calif.) Elsinore.
Not one decided on Arizona. Brown, recruited at an early stage in his development by former UA player and assistant Reggie Geary, canceled an official visit to the UA and will decide among Stanford, Cal and UCLA. King verbally committed to ASU, Solomon to Cal and Johnson to Virginia.
Western talent is still in sight for the UA coach Sean Miller’s Class of 2010 haul (which at this point can only include two prospects because of scholarship constraints). The remaining possibilities include point guard Gary Franklin, King’s backcourt mate at Mater Dei, power forward Terrence Jones of Portland (Ore.) Jefferson, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph and Los Alamos (N.M.) center Alex Kirk.
Franklin and Jones are the lone coastal recruits playing near Pac-10 locales. Is it imperative that Miller land either one to keep the UA in the recruiting picture among Pac-10-area recruits? That question and possibly more on your mind will be answered here (to the best of my ability — UA coaches are unable to talk about recruits until they sign):
So is it important to land a recruit from Pac-10 country in this recruiting class?
Not necessarily, but it can go a long way to helping Miller’s image in the West. Currently, he is an unknown among these 16- and 17-year-olds who likely worked out or attended a local game than sat through an entire Xavier game on TV to scout Miller. This is just a hunch, but if you polled Jones, Franklin, Kirk and Joseph if they saw Miller coach at Xavier, they would likely say yes — on SportsCenter. Kirk admitted to me that he did not watch Miller coach at Xavier.
Was it important to Lute Olson that he established himself in the West right away?
Former UA guard Craig McMillan, now the head coach at Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC, was Olson's first McDonald's All-American recruit
In Olson’s second recruiting class — in about the same time frame Miller is in now with the UA — he landed the Wildcats’ first McDonald’s All-American: Shooting guard Craig McMillan of Cloverdale (Calif.). Olson recruited Steve Kerr of Pacific Palisades (Calif.) in his first class but Kerr was a diamond in the rough who only considered Gonzaga at that time. McMillan’s signing was not an open-the-floodgates development of top West coast talent going to Arizona but it did signal that Olson would be a factor as a recruiter in the fertile state of California. By the time Olson coached the UA to its first Final Four — in his fifth season in Tucson — his starting lineup included four players from California (Kerr, McMillan, Anthony Cook and Tom Tolbert) and one from Arizona (Tucson’s own Sean Elliott). Of course, I can hear the argument now: But Olson already developed West coast ties from his days at Long Beach City College and Long Beach State. That’s true. Olson had coaching friends in California, but the young players likely did not know much about him at Iowa (where he coached nine years).
What would it mean to Miller and the program if he is able to land Terrence Jones?
This is just my humble opinion — again, the UA coaches can’t speak about this to me and they know a million times more than I do about this process — but I think going after Jones should be Priority No. 1 for many reasons. 1, Jones comes from Oregon, where Olson made his mark with Damon and Salim Stoudamire. His signing would indicate that Miller will be the factor Olson once was in the Pacific Northwest. 2, Jones agreeing to Miller’s sales pitch would instantly show that the young coach can make the jump from landing three-star players at Xavier to the five-star variety at Arizona. 3, Jones is good enough in his stage of development to rival the best who have played at Arizona. Yes, that includes the very best. Star value goes a long way toward landing more talented recruits in the future. For example, wing player Chris Mills would likely not have chosen to transfer from Kentucky to Arizona had it not been for Elliott emerging as an All-American at his position at Arizona.
What about Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill? Aren’t they West coast recruits?
Yes, they are both from southern California, but they intended to go to USC before former Trojan coach Tim Floyd became embroiled by controversy. Miller and his staff deserve credit for getting both to attend Arizona. That’s a good start to land more West coast talent in the future. But Williams and Hill are not typical recruits who signed with Miller after going through the entire recruiting process.