The nation’s top-ranked basketball recruiting class just got better.
Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer from St. Mark’s in Southborough (Mass.) committed to the Arizona Wildcats over Kansas on Monday. Tarczewski could pretty much have gone wherever he wanted, as North Carolina and Kentucky were among those in hot pursuit.
“I had great programs and great coaches recruiting me,” Tarczewski told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. “It just felt right at Arizona. I fell in love with everything — from the current players to the staff to Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Gabe York.”
Those three guys are the other members of coach Sean Miller’s recruiting class, which already had been ranked No. 1 by ESPNU. With Tarczewski’s commitment, Scout.com bumped up the Cats’ class to the top spot as well.
Check out these player rankings by ESPNU. According to the network’s evaluations, Arizona has landed the nation’s fourth-best player (power forward Ashley), the sixth-best prospect (Tarczewski), the ninth-best recruit (power forward Jerrett) and the 36th-rated player (shooting guard York).
Tweeted ESPN senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep: “Last year Arizona loaded up its backcourt. This time around, they secured an embarrassment of frontcourt talent. Impressive stuff.”
One of the questions about Miller when he arrived at Arizona for the 2009-10 season was whether he could recruit the West Coast and whether he had the juice to regularly pull in top 100 prospects.
West Coast? Check. Ashley, Jerrett, York are all from the West. So are three of this year’s four freshmen, the exception being center Sidiki Johnson from The Bronx, N.Y.
Too 100 recruits? Check. Try Top 50. Try Top 10.
Not that it matters to Miller.
“It’s more about how they fit in to how we play,” Miller told me at Pac-12 Media Day last Friday.
“Derrick Williams is the greatest example there is that often times the rankings don’t matter. For the most part, you have to make your own decisions and form your own relationships.”
Williams, as everyone is familiar with the story, wasn’t ranked among the top 150 prospects by Rivals.com. Two years later, he was the second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Ranking recruits is an inexact science, but it’s a lot of fun to count up the “stars” and it does show momentum in the program. Is there anything Miller can’t do right now? (Well, other than beat a Division II team in an exhibition game.)
His coaching skill has never been in question. His ability to conquer on the recruiting trail is the greatest sign that the Arizona program is headed back for glory days.
Tarczewski certainly believes, even though he’s an East Coast kid and a New Hampshire native.
Miller previously had been able to pull in East Coast kids to Arizona largely based on previous relationships (MoMo Jones, Kevin Parrom, Sidiki Johnson) and says “distance from home” is the hardest thing to overcome in recruiting.
The Wildcats did just that with Tarczewski, who took an official visit when Arizona held Red-Blue Game festivities a couple of weekends ago.
“It takes a special kid, a special family and special relationships,” Miller said last Friday.
“That isn’t to say we won’t recruit back there when we have that in place because a lot of people love Arizona.”
The No. 1-ranked recruiting class backs that up.