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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Summer Sports Update: Bayless’ indecision not necessarily negative

    Phoenix high school student Jerryd Bayless, Class of 2007, with Marcus Williams, right, watches his team, Arizona Magic, play during the first day of the Arizona Cactus Classic in McKale Center, Friday, May 19.  Bayless didnt play due to an injury.
    Phoenix high school student Jerryd Bayless, Class of 2007, with Marcus Williams, right, watches his team, Arizona Magic, play during the first day of the Arizona Cactus Classic in McKale Center, Friday, May 19. Bayless didn’t play due to an injury.

    Cactus Classic Notes

    The Arizona basketball program’s three commits for 2007 were all in attendance for the inaugural Arizona Cactus Classic, an AAU basketball tournament featuring 32 teams held last weekend in McKale Center, but the most intriguing and highest-touted prospect, Jerryd Bayless, wasn’t in uniform.

    The Phoenix St. Mary’s combo guard did not play for his AAU team, the Arizona Magic, and instead decided to “”relax,”” said Anthony Ray, the Magic’s head coach. Bayless, who shied away from his commitment earlier in the month, did not show up to speak with reporters yesterday after insisting he would be present on Friday.

    Still, Ray said he thinks Bayless’ indecision does not spell doom for Arizona’s chances at retaining the No. 11 player and No. 2 shooting guard in the ’07 class, as rated by recruiting Web site

    “”The fact that he showed up and came and is sitting on our bench and supporting this team and in a sense supporting the (Arizona) program is huge,”” Ray said. “”For Arizona fans that are here, it gives them a good sign.””

    “”He ain’t walking around here for nothing,”” added forward Jamelle Horne, an Arizona ’07 commitment from San Diego ranked No. 22 overall and No. 4 at small forward.

    Incoming freshman point guard Nic Wise was also in the house, cheering on his younger brother Dondre’s team, Houston Hoops, coached by their father Greg. When he wasn’t spending time with the family, Wise was doing his best imitation of Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner, re-recruiting Bayless.

    “”(I’ve) mostly just (been) hanging out with Jerryd, trying to get him back,”” Wise said. “”Basically telling him I’m gonna get him the ball.””

    Ray said he spoke with Bayless and his family and is sure the family feels “”very comfortable”” with the decision.

    “”When you’re rated that high and you have that many schools that want you, you want to make sure that you make the right decision,”” Ray said.

    If Bayless decides to take his talents elsewhere, he previously said Texas was a main target.

    “”He never said ‘I’m not going to Arizona…’ he wants to make sure that he doesn’t make a decision and then look back years from now and feel like he went to the wrong school, but he loves the Arizona program,”” Ray said.

    Bayless, who is the highest-rated Arizona guard since Mike Bibby, has made many unofficial visits to Tucson. The coaching staff was not allowed to be present for the tournament because of NCAA restrictions, but Bayless hung out with sophomore forward Marcus Williams and later shot around with Wise and Williams, as Williams ran through drills.

    Hitting the Houston pipeline again?

    The Houston Hoops squad featured Arizona’s main recruiting target for 2007, forward Gary Johnson.

    Johnson averaged 15.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game over eight games as his team lost in the finals of the tournament to Pump N Run, falling 67-48 yesterday.

    He scored 15 points and pulled down six rebounds in the championship game, scoring mostly on garbage buckets inside, for which he used his body to clear space in the lane. Johnson also showed a knack for getting to the free-throw line, going 7-of-7 in the final game and leading the tournament in free-throw makes and attempts.

    The 6-foot-7 and chiseled 205-pound Johnson may remind people of sophomore forward Fendi Onobun. Both Houston natives have muscular bodies that may be ahead of their basketball skills.

    Johnson said he sees himself as a power forward/small forward combination currently, but would like to transform his game into a small forward/power forward blend, with more perimeter skills.

    “”Unless I end up growing to about 6-10,”” Johnson said.

    Johnson, from Aldine High School, ranks No. 19 in his class, No. 8 among power forwards and said Arizona sits at the top of his list.

    “”They’ve always been at the highest on my list since they first started recruiting me in eighth grade,”” he said.

    Johnson said he would make his decision by his birthday, Oct. 25.

    He also said having many Houston products in the Arizona program is a factor.

    “”If I come and I’m around those guys, they (were) in the same position that I’m in coming in,”” he said.

    Wise said: “”Houston really doesn’t get put up on the map a lot. We have a lot of really good players that don’t get recognized. It’s good that Josh (Pastner) is here and is recruiting for us.””

    As for possible comparisons to NBA players, Johnson said he has none.

    “”There aren’t too many NBA players that play as hard as I try to play,”” he said. “”I feel like I’m not as skilled as some of the NBA players so I’ll prepare myself.””

    As for skills he still needs to improve on?

    “”Basically getting comfortable on the perimeter before I go off to college: shooting, dribbling, perimeter defense,”” Johnson said.

    ’07 recruits

    If Johnson does decide on Arizona, he will join two commits whose teams were sent packing earlier than expected.

    Horne averaged 18.0 points per game in five games before his EBO/EA Sports team was shellacked by the Las Vegas Prospects. The 6-foot-7 slasher showed a decent shooting touch and unlimited athleticism, but his perimeter shot went cold in the 78-61 loss.

    Horne can play a number of different positions and said he’s not concerned about fitting into a specific position because of Arizona’s offense.

    “”The thing about Arizona’s offense that I love is whoever gets the ball can push it, so I’m no specific position, and that’s how I wanna be forever,”” he said.

    Horne said Arizona head coach Lute Olson and the staff were at one of his games in Las Vegas at 8:30 in the morning, and that’s when he knew he would become a Wildcat.

    7-foot center Alex Jacobson from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., and the So-Cal All-Stars, who were favored by some experts to win the tournament, were bounced out in the quarterfinals.

    They were without star forward Kevin Love, ranked No. 2 overall in the ’07 class, though. Jacobson, didn’t do much to make up for the loss of Love, who was attending prom, failing to average in the top 50 in scoring and earning no All-Tournament honors. In SoCal’s 70-69 pool play loss to Utah Pump N’ Run, Jacobson, who’s ranked as the No.13 center, scored just two points and grabbed one rebound, while receiving somewhat limited playing time.

    Horne still came away impressed from watching his future teammate.

    “”He’s getting better every time I see him,”” Horne said.

    Jacobson may be a project, but he is a legitimate 7-footer, who weighs 235 pounds and hopes to increase his weight to 270 by the time he arrives.

    “”Some people say I’ll start and some people say I won’t. I don’t really care,”” he said. “”It just depends on how hard I work to get that goal.””

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