That huge sigh of relief you heard from Tucson when Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller didn’t change jobs last spring?
It wasn’t big enough.
Relief that Miller didn’t bolt for Maryland after two seasons at UA has turned into pure joy about what the future holds for Arizona basketball.
In college, it’s always about having the right coach at the right time, and Miller is leaving little doubt that he is all that. The latest evidence was Monday’s commitment from power forward Brandon Ashley, rated the fourth-best player in the 2012 class by ESPNU.
Flash back to when Miller was hired. Critics wondered, somewhat reasonably, if Miller and his coaching staff could recruit on the West Coast after a lifetime of being in the East. They wondered if Miller could handle the big-boy recruiting world, regularly bumping up against Kansas and Kentucky and UCLA and all those blue-bloods.
It’s not even a debate now.
Miller can recruit both coasts, can recruit off the national top 50 list … can pretty much do whatever he wants.
His 2012 recruiting class is now like this: Ashley, power forward Grant Jerrett (ESPNU No. 9) and guard Gabe York (36). ESPNU, after Ashley’s commitment, re-ranked the Wildcats as having the best recruiting class in the nation.
“You’re talking about three high-level players,” Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national director of basketball recruiting told Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.
“The things that are special about all three of them, all three of these guys can really score the ball. York is a prolific scorer and the bigs can score off the jump shot or the drive. … That’s tough to beat.”
And Miller is still pursuing 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski from St. Mark’s in Southborough, Mass, for this recruiting class. ESPNU ranks his No. 6 in the nation.
Combine this 2012 class with the current freshman class — point guard Josiah Turner, guard Nick Johnson, and forwards Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson. Put them together in 2012-13 with would-be veterans like Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill and Jordin Mayes …
You’re thinking a national title run, aren’t you?
You’re looking further ahead and thinking multiple national title runs, aren’t you?
This thing is rolling now. Great class after great class. Miller appears to be an unstoppable force on the recruiting trail, and his coach-them-up skills haven’t been in question after the success he had in Xavier.
Glory days are here again.
Now, Miller just has to stay around for a while.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Brandon Ashley, who is from Oakland but will be attending powerhouse Findlay Prep in the Las Vegas area this year:
Ashley is not your prototypical power forward in build or in game. He possesses explosive athleticism along with a long frame and broad shoulders. He impacts the game with his shot blocking and ability to finish in the paint. However, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound prospect is comfortable knocking down high-post jumpers and even driving to the basket.