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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Basketball team gets ‘together’

    Soulja Roy

    At the conclusion of a 20-minute shirts-and-skins scrimmage Friday in McKale Center, the UA men’s basketball team huddled around in a circle for a brief pep talk.

    “”Together,”” they yelled in unison.

    What a welcome from a team that endured anything but togetherness last season.

    Arizona’s 2007-08 identity revolved around questions, speculation and the mystery regarding its legendary hall-of-fame head coach, Lute Olson. Now, OlsonGate has completely ended, and juniors Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise have returned to a comforting setting that about 70 spectators witnessed in McKale over the weekend.

    But an even more welcoming picture than Olson’s return was the presence of five-star recruit Abdul Gaddy standing on the outside of that very circle, holding his hand up in unity with the rest of the 2008-09 squad.


    Gaddy, the nation’s No. 2-ranked point guard in the Class of 2009 according to, spent the weekend on an official recruiting visit here in Tucson. Since his original verbal commitment to Olson during his junior year of high school, Gaddy has since retracted and reopened the recruiting process – but kept Arizona as his top choice – in response to Olson’s assistant coaching shake-up.

    Just weeks before officially retracting, Gaddy attended the Arizona Cactus Classic AAU basketball tournament in McKale. Rumors circulated before the tournament that Gaddy was leaning toward reopening the recruitment process.

    The point guard from Bellarmine Prep (Wash.) said, “”when I play here,”” and, “”if I come,”” in the same two-minute interview in May.

    Clearly at that point Gaddy was unsure about the “”togetherness”” of Arizona basketball.

    “”(Olson) told me he was going to be here when I was here,”” said Gaddy in an interview with the Daily Wildcat at the Cactus Classic. “”He told me that. I believed that when he said that so he kept a promise.””

    Less than two hours before the 4 p.m. scrimmage on Friday, Zona Zoo rushed out an e-mail to all of its members urging students to attend the scrimmage and show Gaddy “”how much the community supports him and help aid in making sure he becomes a Wildcat.””

    Even with such short notice, about 70 people attended.

    “”Do all these people really come out and watch practices all the time?”” asked a photographer shooting the event.

    Welcome to today’s era of newfound “”togetherness.””

    During the scrimmage, Gaddy and freshman Garland Judkins played the backcourt with big men Jamelle Horne, Jeff Withey and Jordan Hill down low.

    There’s no timetable for Gaddy’s announcement, whether he’ll choose Arizona or UCLA, but at least for 20 minutes, he controlled the tempo in McKale and looked polished enough to suit up in a UA jersey, dumping a few no-look assists through the lane and draining a few 3s from beyond the new NCAA three-point arc.

    Last year’s trouble with front-to-back court ball movement was long-forgotten when watching Gaddy dish assists to Hill and Withey. Come to think of it, last year’s overall troubles were forgotten – period.

    Is it too early to name the 2008-09 team the “”Redeem Team?””

    It worked in Beijing, and there’s nothing foreign about the courts in Tucson: It’s a warm homecoming for Olson and a squad that’s back together.

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