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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona basketball never stops

Tyler Baker/ The Daily Wildcat Junior guard Nick Johnson dunks the ball during the second half of Arizona’s 65-56 win over Utah at McKale Center on Sunday.

June will never be as busy a month for college basketball programs as March or even December. In spite of this fact, Arizona has had a productive June.

Last week, UA men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller, who served as an assistant coach for Team USA, and 2014-15 incoming Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson completed a perfect tournament as the U.S. won the gold medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men.

Johnson was named MVP of the tournament and the Yanks went 5-0, winning their games by 98, 54, 54, 34 and 34 points.

A few days later, Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson were selected in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Gordon was the 19th first-round and 12th lottery pick in school history, and Johnson was Arizona’s 67th draft pick in UA history. Twice in the two-round draft, the UA got publicity on national TV that most programs wish they had.

ASU basketball, for example, did not get any national exposure on draft night. Two former Sun Devils, Jordan Bachynski and Jahii Carson, were expected to be drafted, but ended up not hearing their names called.

To make matters worse, Carson left ASU after his sophomore year.

Arizona has had 38 players drafted since 1988, tied for the most with Duke and Kentucky. Ten of the UA’s last 12 picks were in the lottery.

Under Miller, the Wildcats have produced five draft picks in five years, which is eighth nationally, and four in the last two years. Despite having two players drafted in 2013, Arizona still held the No. 1 ranking for a school-record eight weeks in 2013-14.

The Wildcats don’t rebuild – they reload, especially under Miller.

After the USA’s 100-46 win over Mexico, Johnson praised Miller when asked about the benefits of playing for his college coach while competing for the U18 team.

“It’s been really beneficial,” Johnson said in a press release. “I think coach Miller is a great coach and he does great things.”

A few weeks ago in a press conference, Miller said he wouldn’t use the time to recruit.

“USA Basketball is something we have all grown to cherish,” Miller said. However, the prestige Miller gets from being a Team USA coach will help him to recruit.

Last year, Aaron Gordon was MVP of the FIBA U19 World Championship as the Americans won the gold medal.

Meanwhile, the women’s basketball team is also making a positive splash nationwide.

The Wildcats are raising money for the Kay Yow Foundation with the #Chillin4Charity Cold Water Challenge, which has spread from Pac-12 coaches and players to the WNBA and even to college football coaches.

March didn’t turn out the way Arizona fans wanted, but June was a blast.

—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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