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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    No Letters of Intent will be signed today for 2009 class

    UA interim head coach Russ Pennell opened up Sunday’s USA Today and turned to the college basketball preview in between performances at his daughter’s gymnastics meet.

    There, he saw Arizona’s Class of 2009 recruiting class, just three days away from the national early signing day.

    Not that he had to open up the newspaper to begin with, since the Wildcats won’t have a single recruit sign today – the earliest date that a player can sign his National Letter of Intent.

    Five-star point guard Abdul Gaddy and four-star forwards Mike Moser and Solomon Hill all retracted their verbal commitments after the retirement of UA head coach Lute Olson.

    “”It had the players listed that we had committed,”” Pennell said Monday. “”And it about brought tears to my eyes because it’s a pretty good bunch. But we’re not going to have anybody sign on that day, obviously.””

    Arizona’s vacant recruiting class comes after years of prized recruits – a tradition that ends today, due to the interim status of Pennell and his staff.

    Four- and five-star recruits such as Andre Iguodala (2002),

    Mustafa Shakur (2003), Jawann McClellan (2004), J.P. Prince (2005), Chase Budinger (2006) and Jerryd Bayless (2007) have all headlined Olson’s nationally ranked recruiting classes over the past decade.

    Now, the program will strive to sell itself on its tradition.

    Pennell said at his inaugural press conference as interim coach that the staff would continue to actively recruit players despite the unknown status of next season’s head coach.

    But because he may not be head coach next season, Pennell clears his potential recruits with UA athletic director Jim Livengood to hold accountability to the program.

    “”(Assistant Coach) Reggie (Geary) and I talk about this a lot: If there’s someone we feel like is good enough to play, someone that if we were here, we would want to coach, all we’ve done – we’re just clearing that through Jim Livengood,”” Pennell said.

    “”If a kid’s not going to sign ’till April,”” he added, “”we’re basically showing him good faith that Arizona likes him.””

    Josh Gershon, senior editor of recruiting Web site (,) said whoever replaces Olson and Pennell as the next head coach must find quality talent in the spring – a more difficult period in which to do so.

    “”It’s not unheard of for a school to bring in a good spring class, but it is pretty rare,”” Gershon said. “”I think the other thing that the new coach would try to do to make up for it is, depending what coaching changes there are in the spring, they could maybe try to get some players that get released from their Letters of Intent, like Emmanuel Negedu – maybe on the other end of a situation like that.

    “”But I think that’s an optimistic way to look at what actually is a pretty bad situation,”” Gershon added.

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