Grant Jerrett and Eric Cooper Jr. smile for the camera during LaVerne (Calif.) Lutheran media day last month. Photo courtesy of Eric Cooper Sr.
Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School coach Jim Harris, a 31-year coaching veteran in California, indicated to me last year that Arizona coach Sean Miller is not too far off from establishing a recruiting base in the West.
“Lute (Olson) was very much into recruiting this area, partly because he coached high school basketball around here,” said Harris, who coaches against Santa Ana Mater Dei, a program that has turned out former UA standouts Miles Simon, Reggie Geary and junior center Alex Jacobson.
“He knew a lot of us coaches who have been around a while. When he expressed interest in a player, he got the information and help he needed because of his connections. Coach Miller is starting to do that.
“Arizona is a national university as far as basketball is concerned. All that needs to happen now is for Coach Miller to lay the groundwork in California and be consistent in recruiting this area. I can certainly see him doing that consistently.
“A lot of the coaches and players in California have that same positive feeling about Arizona as before and that’s partly because of Coach Miller. He’s off to an impressive start.”
Harris’ comments were last November before Miller beat Kansas for high-profile Sacramento (Calif.) High School guard Josiah Turner. Nick Johnson, a program changer from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, also signed with UA after comitting in August.
Class of 2013 guard Eric Cooper Sr. was named recently the Team USA Developmental National Team
In his first recruiting class at Arizona, amassed in a mere three months, Miller inked California products Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill, both of whom are significant reasons why Arizona is 5-0 with a winning margin of 30.6 points heading into tonight’s game against No. 6 Kansas.
In his second class, Miller signed Phoenix North guard Daniel Bejarano (a former Texas commit) and Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester High School point guard Jordin Mayes, who should evolve into one of the better freshmen in the Pac-10 this season.
Before Miller moved from Xavier to Arizona, he did not recruit a player west of the Mississippi. His recruiting focus was on Ohio and other parts of the Midwest in addition to the East coast with New York-based AAU director Book Richardson on his staff.
Miller now has his first Five-Star recruit overall in Turner for the Class of 2011. News broke this morning from Dave Telep of Scout.com that Miller has achieved commitments from Class of 2012 forward Grant Jerrett and Class of 2013 guard Eric Cooper Jr.