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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sean Miller on recent Arizona men’s basketball recruiting

Rebecca Noble
Head coach Sean Miller howls during Arizona’s 78-66 win over CSUB at McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016.

The early signing period for high school basketball recruits closed on Wednesday afternoon, and four high school prospects signed their letters of intent with the Wildcats. Arizona basketball finds itself with the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation as of Thursday afternoon.

That’s in large part to the commitment of center DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation. Ayton hails from the Bahamas but relocated to Phoenix where he attends Phoenix Hillcrest Prep.

Here is a breakdown of what head coach Sean Miller had to say regarding each of his new recruits:

Alex Barcello, point guard

Corona Del Sol High School (Tempe, Arizona)

No. 94 overall high school player in the country (ESPN)

Miller and his staff offered Barcello a scholarship during his sophomore season of high school in Tempe. Barcello dropped 51 points in a high school contest, and Miller offered him a scholarship the next day. He looks to be Arizona’s point guard of the future, and Miller likened Barcello to a former Wildcats point guard:

“[Barcello] has the makings to be an incredible leader,” Miller said. “He has some characteristics of T.J. McConnell that we’ve learned to love. He has a fire inside of him, toughness, a love of the game; [we are] really elated to have him.”

Barcello is an athletic point guard who stands at 6-foot-2 and is heralded for his playmaking ability, though he can also score from beyond the arc.

“The game has changed, the ability to shoot the 3-point shot is valued now more than ever before. We recognize that,” Miller said. “In addition to his playmaking skills, he can really shoot the three.”

Ira Lee, power forward

Crossroads School (Los Angeles)

No. 69 overall high school player in the country (ESPN)

Miller said that he has been on the recruiting trail with Lee the longest out of the recruiting class. Arizona offered him a scholarship a “long, long time ago,” and he seems to fit the mold of Miller recruits—Lee can play defense.

“From a defensive perspective, he has a chance to be great,” Miller said. “Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Aaron Gordon, if you’re watching [junior] Keanu Pinder learn our system, [Lee] has that type of athleticism, size, quickness, mostly a mindset that we really, really love.”

Lee will give Arizona plenty of versatility and Miller noted that he can play multiple positions when he arrives at Arizona. To go along with the trend of injuries this year at Arizona, Lee is currently suffering form a shoulder injury. He is almost fully cleared, however, and Miller does not expect his injury issues to be a problem at Arizona.

Brandon Randolph

Westtown School (Yonkers, New York)

No. 40 overall player in the country (ESPN)

Randolph was a late bloomer on the recruiting trail. He showed up on Miller and his staff’s radar during his junior season. Randolph is a big shooting guard, listed at 6-foot-6, according to ESPN, and will be a key part of Arizona’s rotation next year. Miller praised Randolph’s improvement over the last two years and said he believes he is still improving.

“As we’ve learned about our own recruiting efforts, those that are really on that fast track [of improving], they seem to continue on that fast track,” Miller said. “There’s a reason they go from nowhere to being one of the best players in high school basketball.”

Randolph and Barcello will add depth to what could already be a deep backcourt for Arizona next season.

DeAndre Ayton

Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix)

No. 1 overall player in the country (ESPN)

Ayton is the highest-rated recruit to ever commit to Arizona. The 7-foot senior is slated as the potential No. 1 selection in the 2018 NBA draft and is almost certainly a “one-and-done” player. Ayton can truly do it all. He is remarkably athletic for his size but has the ability to handle the ball and make shots from all around the court. Miller is understandably excited about the 18-year-old mega prospect.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it, he’s one of these once-in-a-generation type of players,” Miller said. “He has a physical presence that, for a young person, you don’t often times see.”

Besides his physical stature, Miller is impressed with Ayton’s basketball mind.

“He is really smart,” Miller said. “He has the know how of how to play with four other players that a lot of big guys don’t have. He’s a skilled player. Sometimes 7-footers play the game because they’re tall, but he loves the game. He’s obsessed with being a great player. We’re all looking forward to providing him an environment where he can grow.”

There were some concerns regarding Ayton’s eligibility coming from a prep academy. When asked if there were still concerns about his eligibility, Miller simply answered, “no.”

Arizona will look to add one to two more players to this class, which is already one of Miller’s best during his tenure at Arizona.

Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter.

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