Arizona coach Sean Miller likes the fact that Class of 2010 recruits Daniel Bejarano and Jordin Mayes come from two-time state champion high school teams and strong family backgrounds (Photo by US Presswire/Kirby Lee)
Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller wrapped up the spring signing period by discussing Tuesday at McKale Center those who have signed with the Wildcats and other topics of the day related to recruiting.
Most noteworthy in Miller’s half-hour meeting with local media:
- His reference to Class of 2010 signees Jordin Mayes and Daniel Bejarano coming from winning high school programs and strong family backgrounds. He mentioned their family backgrounds more than once, calling to mind when Lute Olson and his late wife Bobbi screened players to fit into a family atmosphere.
- His statement that senior Jamelle Horne will be challenged by Arizona’s added depth (namely JUCO recruit Jesse Perry) for playing opportunities.
- His comments about UA assistant coach Book Richardson‘s name popping up to fill vacancies (most recently at Kentucky).
- His amazement that some players — i.e. Kadeem Jack of Manhattan (N.Y.) Rice and Terrence Jones of Portland (Ore.) Jefferson) — have yet to make up their minds.
- His theory to replace three players a year, not “five to seven,” he said, “because in that case, you’re not developing upperclassmen.” This was an indirect reference to a program like Kentucky, which must replace nine scholarship spots, partly because four of its players entered the NBA draft after their freshman season.
Per NCAA rules, Miller is unable to talk specifically about an unsigned recruit, but he was able to address the topic of players such as Jack and Jones who have yet to sign.
“That amazes me,” Miller said. “That’s not healthy for college basketball. … There’s so much information out there to make a good decision.”
Jack, a 6-foot-8-inch power forward, in particular is of interest to Miller and Arizona. He was originally recruited by the Wildcats, UConn, Arkansas and Miami. In recent weeks, his focus has turned to attending prep school or signing with Kentucky or North Carolina.
Jones, a 6-9 versatile forward who can also be a playmaker, announced two weeks ago that he would sign with Washington but he has not yet signed a national letter of intent. Rumors out of Lexington, Ky., suggest that Jones is prepared to sign a financial aid agreement with Kentucky, which is not the same as a national letter of intent. Jones can opt out of the financial aid agreement and sign with Washington.
Miami-Dade Junior College 6-11 forward Eloy Vargas opted to sign with Kentucky last weekend instead of taking his originally scheduled visit to Arizona. Vargas signed with Kentucky with the mindset that he can play in the NBA after next season, which coach John Calipari accepted as long as Vargas works hard.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Miller said when asked if recruits are looking more at enhancing their NBA stock than improving a college basketball program. “But part of that is knowing you have to play within a team concept to become a better player.
“You have to do a lot of different things. You have to defend. You have to play within a system.”
The effectiveness of Miller’s system relies on the loyalty of his staff, which includes his brother Archie Miller, James Whitford and Book Richardson.
Richardson, a part of Miller’s staff for three years at Xavier and Arizona, has increasingly been mentioned for other positions, including the current vacancy at Kentucky. He already has rejected reported offers by St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
“We have a great staff that is very loyal,” Miller said. “Our staff knows that Arizona is a great place to coach and Tucson is a nice place to live.
“The coaching opportunities are flattering and they are to be expected. What’s best for the individual is what’s most important. That’s why it was good to see (former director of basketball operations) Jamall (Walker) get the opportunity to return to Ohio and be part of that coaching staff.”
Other items of note about the press conference: Sophomore-to-be center Kyryl Natyazhko will play in two tournaments in his native Ukraine over the next two months, which is a welcomed move by Miller. “It will be good for him to go up and down the court and get more experience,” Miller said. “He didn’t play 30 minutes a game as a freshman, so this will be a good opportunity for him.” … Arizona will don new special-edition Nike uniforms midway through next season. Miller described them as red, white and blue outfits, so they may not be predominantly red, white and blue but a mixture of those colors. … Miller indicated his starting point guard is likely Lamont “MoMo” Jones with Mayes, of Los Angeles Westchester, as his backup. He also said that Bejarano, who is 6-5, is big enough to play on the wing. Miller said that “not very many people shoot better than (Bejarano)” in the Class of 2010. … Miller envisions building a program that has depth without a lot of turnover, similar to how Olson built the program. “I look at some of the team pictures from the past and what strikes me is seeing guys like (current NBA players) Will Bynum and Jason Terry on a team in which they did not play a lot of minutes,” Miller said. “That’s the kind of depth we want to develop.”