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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona rakes in top-three recruiting class

The No. 10 Arizona men’s basketball team officially inked Phoenix star Jerryd Bayless and four other players to National Letters of Intent yesterday. The Wildcats’ 2007 recruiting class, ranked No. 3 by the recruiting Web site Rivals.com, also includes Jamelle Horne, Alex Jacobson, Zane Johnson and Laval Lucas-Perry.

With only Kansas State and Syracuse ahead of the Wildcats, Lute Olson could not think of a higher-rated class he’s has ever signed than this group. But UA’s head coach didn’t pronounce the class to be his best ever.

“”We’ll see once they get here,”” he said.

The Arizona coaching staff expects sophomore forward Marcus Williams to declare for the draft, thus making room for the five scholarships.

“”It’s a very diverse group in terms of talentwise, in terms of positionwise,”” UA assistant coach Josh Pastner said. “”We got five really good players, five really good kids in terms of character and five good students. So we got the total package.””

Bayless, who averaged 37.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game as a junior last season, originally committed in November, then de-committed in June and finally re-committed in August.

“”Once he re-committed, it was not a question,”” Olson said when asked if he was worried until Bayless actually signed.

At 6-foot-3, Bayless is a combo guard in the mold of Dwyane Wade and ranks No. 10 overall by Rivals.com.

“”He’s an elite-level athlete, a big-time scorer,”” Pastner said. “”He’s gotten even better in terms of distributing, and he has the potential to be a super defender.””

Freshman forward Chase Budinger played with Bayless at Michael Jordan Camp and said the high school senior is a tremendous talent.

“”He’s a good player, he’s super explosive and unselfish, and he’s going to help the team next year, but right now I’m focusing on this year,”” Budinger said.

Asked if Bayless’ signing affects his status for the upcoming season, Budinger said, “”Yeah, it’s going to affect me. Next year, him coming, having another great player on the team, it’s going to help a lot. I’m really glad that he finally signed that letter of intent.””

Horne, ranked No. 19 by Rivals.com, is a 6-foot-7 forward from San Diego who averaged 23.0 points and 13.0 rebounds per game and was compared to Richard Jefferson in a statement by Olson.

Jacobson, unranked overall but ranked No. 19 among centers, may be the wildcard of the group. At 7-foot-1, Jacobson averaged 13.0 and 9.0 rebounds at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., the alma mater of Arizona assistant coach Miles Simon and walk-on David Bagga. He trains with Trent Suzuki, who has also worked with Chase Budinger and Isaiah Fox, among others.

“”He wants to be very good,”” Pastner said. “”He has very good hands, very good touch, he knows the game. He’s gotta really mature into a mentality of a dominating force.

“”He’s a legit 7 feet, he’s not skinny. He just really has to mature mentally and take an aggressive attitude every time he steps on the floor.””

Perry, who came onto the national radar fairly late, is a 6-foot-1 combo guard from Grand Blanc, Mich. He averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game at Powers Catholic High School.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard/forward, joins Bayless as the first Wildcats from the state of Arizona since Channing Frye left in 2005. At Thunderbird High School in Phoenix, Johnson averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds during his junior season.

“”He’s a big-time shooter,”” Pastner said. “”He will always stretch the defenses out.””

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