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Arizona Wildcats basketball looks for big recruiting news Friday

Stanley Johnson dunks during the Nike Global Challenge this summer. Photo by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Johnson dunks during the Nike Global Challenge this summer. Photo by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This is how Sean Miller’s past three recruiting classes have been ranked nationally by Rivals.com, starting with the 2011 group: Fourth, third and fourth.

Chances are, Miller is going to be right back in that territory with his 2014 class.

The Arizona Wildcats are waiting to announce their full class because not all the pieces have fallen into place yet. It won’t be long.

Five-star wing Stanley Johnson — rated the No. 2 prospect in the nation by 247Sports, and No. 3 by Rivals — is one of a handful of top recruits who are expected to announce their college choice Friday on an ESPNU recruiting special, starting at 2 p.m. Tucson time.

Recruiting analysts have considered Johnson a strong lean to Arizona, and the Los Angeles Times, citing two sources with knowledge of Johnson’s recruitment, reported Thursday afternoon that Johnson indeed has chosen the Wildcats over USC and Kentucky.

Johnson would join an Arizona class that includes power forward Craig Victor, slippery-quick point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and guard Kadeem Allen, one of the nation’s top junior college prospects.

Johnson is from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., a school that has produced several Arizona players, including Miles Simon and Reggie Geary. Johnson figures to rank among the all-time great high school players in Orange County history.

In the California large-division state title game last season, Johnson scored 26 points — hitting five 3-pointers in the first half — and had 12 points to lead Mater Dei over Archbishop Mitty, who was led by current Cat Aaron Gordon.

Mike Decourcy of the Sporting News, which ranks Johnson seventh in this class, wrote:

“Is there anything Johnson doesn’t do well? He’s a high school player with the body of a five-year NBA vet. He’s an excellent athlete who plays with high energy. He’s got a pretty jump shot that, OK, still needs to become a bit more consistent. He has a high basketball IQ and strong sense of how to lead a team, one reason Mater Dei has won consecutive state titles in California. Johnson is ready to play at the college level now. To become a significant college star, which definitely is available to him, he needs to become a steady 3-point shooter who habitually hits in the 38-percent range.”

Miller said he plans on signing four or five in this class, although it’s too early to know which current Wildcats will leave early or transfer, although the losses could be significant. (Technically, three scholarships are available right now — two open spots, plus senior Jordin Mayes.)

Miller is recruiting like the Lute Olson glory days.

“Our tradition speaks for itself,” Miller said.

“The number of great players who were here prior to my arrival are second to none. It’s amazing. It’s astonishing. The difference now is those players don’t have the chance to be on the same teams for as long in today’s world.

“You don’t get the value in great recruiting classes that you once did. If you had a great recruiting class 10, 15 years ago, that group would be together for two years, three years, sometimes four years, and then you fill in behind him and you have an older, experienced, great team.

“Our team picture will never rival the team pictures of old, even if we accumulate the same amount of talent because in a three-year window, we won’t be able to keep those kind of guys together. Nobody will. It’s just different in college basketball.”

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