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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Bayless recommits to Arizona

Jerry Bayless, of St. Marys High School in Phoenix, recommitted to Arizona on Wednesday and can sign his National Letter of Intent in November. The highest-rated recruit from the state of Arizona since Mike Bibby, Bayless averaged 11 points per game this summer on the USA Under-18 team.
Jerry Bayless, of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, recommitted to Arizona on Wednesday and can sign his National Letter of Intent in November. The highest-rated recruit from the state of Arizona since Mike Bibby, Bayless averaged 11 points per game this summer on the USA Under-18 team.

First he said yes, then no, then yes again.

Arizona head coach Lute Olson’s hair can’t turn any grayer, but the most high-profile recruit from the Phoenix area since Mike Bibby made Olson sweat it out this summer after committing, decommitting and finally recommitting Wednesday.

Despite the indecision from the 6-foot-3 combo guard from St. Mary’s High School, Jerryd Bayless appears headed for at least one year at Arizona, joining San Diego-area forward Jamelle Horne, Santa Ana, Calif., center Alex Jacobson, Michigan combo guard Laval Lucas-Perry, and Phoenix guard Zane Johnson in the class of 2007.

“”I understand that my decision to decommit was a bit unusual, but through my summer experience and the knowledge that I have gained both in basketball and about myself, I feel extremely comfortable that Tucson is the place for me,”” Bayless said in a statement released by the St. Mary’s basketball program.

Bayless’ summer included a stint on the U.S. Under-18 team, which was coached by Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar. The Huskies jumped into the mix in recruiting Bayless along with Texas, which appeared to be the biggest threat to the Wildcats.

According to Bayless’ high school coach, David Lopez, Arizona gave Bayless space after the initial decommitment, and Bayless said he was still considering Arizona.

“”Nobody burned any bridges,”” Lopez said. “”Lute is a grandfather and a father, and he knows that teenagers sometimes go through these things and sometimes they need space. They took a real good approach. They slowly came back.””

Bayless won the Arizona Republic’s “”Big School Player of the Year”” honors after averaging 37.8 points per game last season and is ranked No. 10 on the recruiting service Rivals.com’s list of 2007’s best prospects. Although Bayless took Arizona fans for a roller-coaster ride, Lopez thinks they will forgive and forget.

“”They’ll fall in love with him,”” Lopez said. “”He’s an intelligent kid and a good kid. I think America in general is a forgiving public. There’s a lot worse that people have done.

“”They take people back and they like competitive people, and Jerryd is certainly competitive and works hard and dives for the ball,”” he said. “”They’ll fall in love with the way he plays.””

Although Arizona has only three seniors on the roster this season, the Wildcats have already signed five recruits.

With walk-ons Bret Brielmaier and David Bagga, only 12 scholarships are being used, allowing for a fourth recruit to nab the 13th spot. The expected departure of sophomore Marcus Williams allows for a fifth.

If Arizona expects anyone else to leave early or transfer, the team may go after Oregon forward Kyle Singler (Rivals’ No. 4 prospect) or Georgia forward J.J. Hickson (No. 15).

This recruiting class may have talent, but Bayless was the gem, and unlike in the past when Olson stopped recruiting players who reneged on their commitments, he just couldn’t let go. In the end, it worked out for both parties.

“”I love coach Olson and his staff, the current players and players they have signed are fantastic, the fans are fabulous and it is well-respected academically,”” Bayless said in the statement. “”It is the best scenario for me and I’m excited to be headed down I-10 to play for one of the best programs in the country.””

The Arizona men’s basketball program promoted Jack Murphy to director of basketball operations, where he will replace the departed Reggie Geary.

Geary held the position for one season before leaving to become an assistant coach with the Anaheim Arsenal of the National Basketball Development League, receiving the on-court coaching job he desired at Arizona.

Murphy, 27, officially begins today, but the Arizona graduate has worked in the program for eight years, starting as a student manager and moving on to become the program’s video and recruiting coordinator from 2003 to 2005 before serving as the video coordinator last season.

“”I came to Arizona because I had a love for basketball and I continue to … but I never would have imagined that I’d be here nine years later,”” Murphy said. “”Some days I wake up and I feel like Van Wilder, but I can’t thank coach Olson enough for the opportunities he’s given me in the past and this opportunity to step in and be the basketball operations coordinator.””

Murphy will be in charge of organizing practice times and travel arrangements and will play a bigger role in academics to complement the importance of the Academic Progress Report, which could cost the squad scholarships if players don’t meet specified academic standards.

“”He’s an unbelievable part of the program,”” said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner. “”He’s a behind-the-scenes guy, and he does the little things that make the program a success.””

During the summer, Murphy runs the Lute Olson Elite Camp, and he has been involved with prestigious summer camps in his native Las Vegas.

Geary was originally named assistant coach last year but was asked to take the basketball operations position when Miles Simon was named an assistant shortly thereafter. Pastner said the coaching opportunity for Geary is the first step to becoming a coach in the NBA. “”It’s a wonderful opportunity and something he’s wanted to do for a long time,”” he said.

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