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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Nationally ranked hoops prospect signs with Cats

    Although his teammate and friend Jerryd Bayless turned back on his commitment to play at Arizona, class of 2007 shooting guard Zane Johnson committed to the Wildcats on Saturday after a meeting in Arizona head coach Lute Olson’s office.

    “”I was excited, happy, everything,”” said Johnson who compares himself to former Stanford shooting guard Dan Grunfeld.

    Despite a long list of schools after the Phoenix Thunderbird High School senior, including Southern California, Florida, UCLA, Nevada-Las Vegas, Louisiana State and Washington, Johnson said, “”I knew right away.””

    Ranked No. 67 in his class, the 6-foot-6, 200-pounder would be the first player from the state to don an Arizona uniform since former center Channing Frye, if he stays true to his commitment.

    Johnson grew up in Phoenix but was an Arizona fan throughout his childhood.

    “”I think it’s really important for the fan base,”” Johnson said of having an Arizona native on the roster. “”There will always be fans in Tucson, but in Phoenix there will be more fans going for U of A and not ASU.””

    The Arizona coaching staff is not allowed to comment on players until they sign a National Letter of Intent.

    Assistant coach Josh Pastner, commenting on general recruiting, said it doesn’t matter where the Wildcats get their talent.

    “”It’s not about numbers and top 10 or anything like that. It’s about guys that fit the puzzle to help you win a national championship,”” he said. “”Whether they’re from the state of Arizona, the West Coast, East Coast, down south, up north, it doesn’t matter … and we always wanna do a good job of recruiting as good as we can in state.

    “”That’s very important for us, to take care of business and take care of the kids in state and make sure we’re doing our homework on those kids first.””

    As for Johnson’s buddy Bayless, who plays with him on the Arizona Magic AAU team, Johnson said he tries consistently to convince Bayless to come to Arizona.

    “”I talk to him a lot, we’re good friends,”” Johnson said. “”We talk about the future and how we want to play together, but he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet.””

    Before he steps on campus, Johnson said, “”I have to improve my defense, but I could improve everything.””

    He joins 6-foot-7 forward Jamelle Horne (San Diego) and 7-foot center Alex Jacobson (Santa Ana, Calif.) in the Wildcats’ ’07 committed class. Arizona will likely try to commit two other players to fill the roster.

    “”I think it’s a great class,”” Johnson said. “”I like Jamelle and Alex a lot. They’re good players.””

    Adams taken in second round

    Former Arizona guard Hassan Adams was taken late in the second round (54th overall) by the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Draft June 28 in New York.

    If Adams makes the Nets, he will team up with former Arizona forward Richard Jefferson on a squad that lost in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Adams is expected to play for the Nets in the Orlando Summer Pro League July 10-14 if his injured foot allows him to do so.

    “”Of course we were hoping that he would go higher just for Hassan’s sake, but the good news is that he went to a great team,”” Pastner said. “”The way they play is going to fit his style, and secondly the general manager has come out and said he’s 100 percent to make the team, and I think Hassan is going to play in the league for a long time.””

    Adams averaged a team-leading 17.5 points per game in his senior season at Arizona, which was marred by three off-court incidents. The athletic 6-foot-4 swingman joins an up-tempo team featuring guard Vince Carter and Jefferson.

    “”Unfortunately, he slipped to the second round, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that he gets an opportunity, to make sure that he does the right things so that he ultimately will be successful in his role,”” Jefferson said. “”We drafted him because we can use him, we drafted him because we believe he can play, and we know he’s capable of doing a lot of things.””

    Jefferson also said “”it’s 100 percent”” that Adams makes the team.

    “”To be successful, he has to just work hard and listen,”” Jefferson said. “”He’s coming in with a great young class.””

    Adams joins a pair of former Connecticut players in the Nets draft class, No. 22-pick guard Marcus Williams and No. 23-pick forward Josh Boone

    “”The coaches are going to make sure that the young guys who are the future of our franchise work out for two hours every day before and after practice, and (Adams needs) to make sure that he just works hard,”” Jefferson said. “”He has the athletic ability, he has the quickness, he has the size, he has the strength, and his shooting is just going to improve just by playing basketball every single day.

    “”As long as he stays confident and keeps working hard – as long as he keeps doing the same things he did at Arizona, he’ll be OK.””

    Adams could not be reached for comment

    -Ryan Casey contributed to this report

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