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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Five-star Ashley verbals to UA

Mike Christy
Hundreds of the nation’s best unsigned high school players took part in the Adidas Super 64 and Nike Fab 48 tournaments July 22-26, 2010, in Las Vegas, Nev. Images from Friday, July 23, 2010. (Photograph by Mike Christy)

Sean Miller has done it again, adding highly-touted power forward Brandon Ashley to a 2012 recruiting class that ESPN’s Dave Telep calls the top class in the country.

The No. 4 overall player in ESPNU’s Top 100 passed on Kentucky, UCLA and Oregon for Miller and Arizona, where he’ll join 2012 commits Grant Jerrett, ranked No. 9 overall, and Gabe York, who is ranked No. 36 overall.

“After all the time thinking about it and getting to know Coach Miller and having two great teammates (Jerrett and York), I knew it was the right choice for me,” Ashley told ESPN.

Ashley marks Miller’s 12th ESPN Top 100 recruit since he joined the Wildcats in 2009, and the recruiting classes are only improving each year.

Miller turned in a 2011 class — headlined by Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner, Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol — that ESPN ranked the seventh-best in the country.

Now with arguably the top 2012 class in the nation coupled with a 2010 Elite Eight appearance, Miller is building Arizona basketball back to where it used to be and then some.

“Sean Miller is like a chameleon, man,” Telep told the Daily Wildcat. “You can drop him in the middle desert, and he’ll find his way home. He’s just good at his job. He’s just one of those guys. When you take a look around college basketball, he’s a guy who combines excellence as a coach, developer of players and a recruiter. What he’s done is he’s stacked his classes on top of each other,” Telep added. “I think they have a good foundation for a very, very deep tournament run.”

According to Mark Olivier, the director of Ashley’s AAU team, the Oakland Soldiers, Miller has been pursuing the 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward since Ashley’s freshman year in high school.

“He was one of the first guys (recruiting Ashley),” Olivier said. “He’s been to a number of different events. He’s been to so much stuff I can’t even name them all — both high school and on the AAU side.”

Miller watched Ashley dominate at both Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and stand out with the Soldiers. Because of that commitment, Olivier said Ashley has been considering the Wildcats for about a year now.

While Miller played a huge role in Ashley’s commitment, it didn’t hurt that the No. 2 power forward in the country is a former teammate and close friend of both Nick Johnson and Turner.

“That was a very close-knit team,” Olivier explained. “The way Josiah and Brandon ran the pick and roll, they formed a real bond and Nick was a real leader on that team too. I think that those friendships, they kind of showed him the way. They talk all the time. They’ve been talking ever since they played together. It’s such a powerful thing, man.”

Should Turner and Nick Johnson hang around for their sophomore seasons, the former teammates will reunite with the potential to make a serious Final Four push. That lethal Turner-to-Ashley pick-and-roll should come back to life at Arizona and, along with Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol, Ashley will make up one of the more talented frontcourts in the country.

Ashley will play his senior year at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep, where Nick Johnson finished his high school career. There, he expects to develop his immense talent against the top players in the country, although Telep already likes what he sees.

“With Brandon, I think he attacked his matchups all spring and summer long and made himself a presence at both ends,” Telep said. “I really like that he can play in traffic, score against bigs. He does an excellent job using his length and athleticism and he gets himself to the line or finishes the play. He’s a very efficient guy.”

With top commitments like Ashley, Miller has set the Wildcats up for both present and future success, and Telep doesn’t expect the touted athletes to stop pouring in any time soon.

“I don’t think that they’ll be able to get it fully addressed this year but I think in the 2013 class they’re going to recruit an elite pure point guard,” Telep said.

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