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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Stagnant recruiting in 2016 spells trouble

It’s almost mid-August and Arizona basketball has no commits for its upcoming recruiting class.

That’s not a statement we’re accustomed to reading. Especially not in the Sean Miller era.

But following five-star forward T.J. Leaf’s decommitment on Thursday, Aug. 6, Arizona embarks on the upcoming academic year with no jewels in its basket.

Given Miller’s previous success pulling in top recruits at Arizona, this could read as both surprising and concerning.

It’s surprising given that by this date last year, three of the four members in the Wildcats’ 2015 class had committed, including elite guard Allonzo Trier. That class would end up ranking No. 4 nationally according to recruiting website 247Sports.com.

Why is it concerning?

In the time since Miller reeled in that highly touted class, the Wildcats’ head coach has missed on a couple big targets; in April, five-star big man Ivan Rabb chose California over the UA while graduate transfer Damion Lee ditched Arizona for Louisville.

And in the summer months, which are traditionally a fertile time for Miller and his staff to land commitments, no class of 2016 recruits decided to pull the trigger.

With the decommitment of Leaf, it’s hard to look at the past 12 months as anything but a lull period for a program that has owned the recruiting trail ever since Miller arrived in Tucson.

But as anyone who lives in Tucson knows, droughts are followed by monsoons, and it’s only a matter of time before the first rain drop hits the 2016 class.

Arizona is in on a number of elite recruits and a few are reportedly scheduled to visit within the next week or two.

The biggest name visiting campus is Markelle Fultz, who began his official visiting tour on Monday, Aug. 10.

Fultz, a combo guard out of Dematha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., is considered a consensus top-20 player in the 2016 class and has heavy interest from Kentucky and Louisville.

To Arizona’s benefit, Miller was among the first schools to put an offer to Fultz, way back in January when he was only playing for Dematha Catholic’s junior varsity squad.

Fultz blew up this summer playing in an Adidas sponsored league, and now practically any school in the country would love for him to bring his scoring touch to their program.

Arizona is also expected to receive an official visit from Tucson native Mitch Lightfoot sometime soon. Lightfoot plays high school basketball at Gilbert Christian.

Although Lightfoot is labeled as only a three-star recruit, he too had a great summer on the AAU circuit and now garners interest from a handful of big programs including Kansas, Utah and Stanford.

Arizona would conceivably have the upper edge on the hometown kid, and Lightfoot’s coach told Scout.com that the UA will receive his last official visit—usually a good sign.

But neither Fultz nor Lightfoot is Arizona’s biggest target.

Rather, that’s Josh Jackson, a consensus top five player in the class. In fact, 247Sports ranks Jackson as the top overall recruit among high school seniors.

A six-foot-seven shooting guard out of Detroit, Mich., Jackson is as explosive as he is commanding on the court. He’s the type of player that could come in as a freshman and dominate from the first practice.

Along with Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State and UCLA are among the programs on Jackson’s shortlist, according to Zagsblog.com. Jackson’s mother told the site that he plans to officially visit Arizona and Kansas during the school year.

And if Jackson, Fultz and Lightfoot all end up in Tucson next year, you can bet that no one will remember the slow start to this recruiting class.

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