Arizona’s recruiting effort among Class of 2012 talent started as well as anybody could imagine for a program still in reloading mode under second-year coach Sean Miller.
The Wildcats received a verbal commitment last Nov. 27 from LaVerne (Calif.) Lutheran power forward Grant Jerrett, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound player who plays much larger than that with a 7-foot-1-inch wingspan. He still has another season to grow and mature into an even more dominant player before he heads to Tucson.
His teammate Eric Cooper Jr. is a Class of 2013 guard who has also verbally committed to play with the Wildcats.
By the 2012-13 season, the UA should have at least three scholarship spots to fill. The Wildcats will lose three seniors (possibly four) before that season: Kyle Fogg, Brendon Lavender and Jesse Perry are the three players who should exhaust their eligibility after the 2011-12 season.
Current four-year junior Alex Jacobson has not played much this season because he is outside the UA’s 10-player rotation. It’s not certain whether Jacobson will return next season.
Miller has recruited particularly strong at the guard position in the Class of 2011 with Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep’s Nick Johnson and Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy’s Josiah Turner signed and ready to arrive in Tucson by July.
The Class of 2011 also includes Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy power forward Sidiki Johnson, and potentially San Diego Hoover power forward Angelo Chol, who will officially visit the UA campus on Saturday and Sunday.
Chol, 6-9, 220, will also visit Washington the weekend of Feb. 12-13 before making a decision on Feb. 17. His finalists are Arizona, Washington, Alabama, North Carolina and Kansas.
Not yet including Chol, Arizona’s 2012-13 roster composition looks like this in terms of positions (with players currently under scholarship, except for Jacobson and Derrick Williams, who might head to the NBA before his senior season):
Point guards: Turner and Jordin Mayes
Shooting guards: Nick Johnson, LaMont “MoMo” Jones and Daniel Bejarano
Small forwards: Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom
Power forwards: Sidiki Johnson and Jerrett
Post players: Kyryl Natyazhko
Parrom — a projected senior that season along with Hill, Jones and Natyazhko — could evolve into a power forward. The position breakdown makes it obvious that Arizona is loaded on the perimeter and wing with players like Nick Johnson, Bejarano and Jones able to switch between the guard positions.
The void is on the frontcourt where Jerrett will be raw and so likely will Sidiki Johnson, who might need a year to become accustomed to the college game after missing most of this season at Oak Hill with a hairline stress fracture in his left foot.
At the post, the Wildcats will need more than Natyazhko, who could mature into a more productive player, but at the moment his playing time is dwindling. Chol’s inclusion would be very significant in making Miller’s frontcourt much more potent. Without question, Chol can have a similar impact with the Wildcats in 2012-13 as Williams is now having as a sophomore.