Friday, September 2, 2011
Sean Miller has Arizona recruiting at No. 1
By Diamond Leung
If you're an Arizona fan, you'll love the video from Yay Area's Finest, a compilation of top recruit Brandon Ashley's greatest hits.
If you root for any other team in the Pac-12, the thought of having to face the No. 4-ranked recruit in the 2012 class in the near future has to be frightening after the 6-foot-8 Ashley committed to Arizona this week, joining top-50 recruits Grant Jerrett and Gabe York as future Wildcats.
Arizona vaulted itself into ESPNU's top spot in the team recruiting rankings after Ashley verbally agreed to coach Sean Miller, and that's not all. When I spoke with ESPN.com senior recruiting analyst Dave Telep, he was talking about a future national championship for the Wildcats based upon this latest class.
"They certainly are assembling the pieces," Telep said. "Every single recruiting class under Sean has gotten better than the previous one. The natural progression is Final Four and national championship. Those are reasonable expectations.
"The gauntlet's been thrown down by Arizona already. What they're doing from a recruiting perspective is putting distance between them and the rest of the league."
The Wildcats have awakened since Miller arrived. His first recruiting class resulted in Derrick Williams, who went on to lead the team to an Elite Eight and become the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft. This year's incoming freshman class is ranked No. 7 and includes top point guard Josiah Turner.
"In life, we make the assumption that everyone's great at their jobs, but there are guys that are a lot better than other guys," Telep said. "Sean Miller is in the upper crust of college basketball coaches.
"A guy like Miller who's willing to toe the line with [Lorenzo] Romar and [Ben] Howland is good for the conference."
That's because while it's undeniable that the Pac-10 has been down in recent years, Arizona's successes have raised the bar going forward. UCLA might have lost out on Ashley to its rival, but Howland continues to have his sights set on top overall recruit Shabazz Muhammad while already having compiled the nation's No. 13 class in 2012 with top-100 recruits Jordan Adams and Dominic Artis. Romar is consistently in the mix for top recruits on the West Coast. And Pac-12 newcomers Colorado and Utah have top-100 commitments from Josh Scott and Jordan Loveridge, respectively.
The league appears to be on its way back up, and it's Sean Miller and Arizona that lead the way.