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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Lute Olson’s return still the top factor in recruit

    Highly-touted 2009 recruit Jordan Hamilton goes up for a dunk at the 2008 Arizona Cactus Classic. Hamilton said the return of UA head coach Lute Olson plays biggest factor in decision, despite a recent overhaul in Olsons staff. Hamilton played in this weekends Arizona Cactus Classic for Team Oden.
    Highly-touted 2009 recruit Jordan Hamilton goes up for a dunk at the 2008 Arizona Cactus Classic. Hamilton said the return of UA head coach Lute Olson plays biggest factor in decision, despite a recent overhaul in Olson’s staff. Hamilton played in this weekend’s Arizona Cactus Classic for Team Oden.

    Arizona Cactus Classic

    Those with doubts about UA head coach Lute Olson’s ability to recruit top-notch players to his new-look Arizona men’s basketball program can find comfort in what the long-term future talent pool wants.

    As college basketball’s recruiting landscape continues to grow and thrive from assistant coaches’ crucial relationships with prospects, so does speculation that a recent overhaul of Olson’s staff could negatively impact future recruits.

    But such speculation remains just that, and recruits still want Olson, even with the turnover of his staff.

    “”Just as long as Lute is here,”” said Los Angeles Dominguez High School junior Jordan Hamilton of the departure of assistants Miles Simon and Josh Pastner.

    Recognized by scouts as one of the top players in the class of 2009, Hamilton’s initial offer from Arizona “”fell through”” earlier this season, he said. Olson began recruiting Hamilton and taking interest since his freshman year.

    After hearing about Olson’s return since his 2007-08 season-long leave of absence, Hamilton said he’ll reconsider Arizona because of his close relationship with Olson.

    “”I heard Lute is coming back and that’s a big part of my recruitment,”” said Hamilton, a 6-foot-7 small forward. “”If he’s up here (in Tucson during the Arizona Cactus Classic), I might talk to him and do an unofficial (visit) afterward.

    “”It’s a huge thing,”” he added of Olson’s return. “”I love Lute.””

    Hamilton received offers from Connecticut, Kansas, USC, Syracuse and Texas as the No. 2 forward in his class, according to Rivals.com.

    This weekend’s Cactus Classic provided Hamilton with a place to demonstrate his talent with Team Odom and gain a better perspective of Arizona’s campus and facilities. This weekend marked his third trip to the Cactus Classic.

    “”I just think it’s a great experience for the guys to check out the University of Arizona,”” he said. “”It would be a great thing for me to check it out and I’ll move (Arizona) back in my top five.””

    Coaches and assistants were prohibited from watching the Arizona Cactus Classic per NCAA rules. The layover between jobs, however, allowed newly hired UA assistant coach Russ Pennell to sit in attendance.

    Pennell, who officially begins Monday, said that although assistants play a large role in recruiting, players ultimately choose a school based on the head coach.

    “”I’ve said my whole career and most assistants would say, you don’t go to play for an assistant coach,”” Pennell said. “”I’ve been an assistant for 13-14 years. I’ve never put anybody in a game or taken them out of a game.

    “”They’re coming to play for Lute Olson at the University of Arizona,”” Pennell added. “”If that’s not big enough for them, then they’re probably looking for something totally different. This is still a great place to hone your skills and compete year in year out for championships.””

    Stay current with extended coverage from this weekend’s Arizona Cactus Classic with updates from the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

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