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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Freshmen get head start on campus life, hype”

    Two UA students walked into the Music building one morning last week on their way to class. A group of middle school children waiting for a camp inside looked up at the young men as they passed by.

    “”Whoa, are you guys basketball players?”” a short, pudgy kid asked.

    “”Nope. We play soccer,”” joked 6-foot-3 Jerryd Bayless.

    Zane Johnson, three inches taller, just laughed at his roommate’s remark.

    This kind of attention is not a rarity for four incoming freshmen who are set to join the Arizona men’s basketball team in the fall. Guard Laval Lucas-Perry (6-foot-1) and his roommate, center Alex Jacobson (7-foot-1), complete the group. They all live on campus.

    “”Me and Alex were at the mall one day, and about 10 people asked him how tall he was and if he was a basketball player,”” Johnson said. “”That happens all the time to us.””

    Added Jacobson: “”I’m used to it because everyone always asks, everywhere.””

    This attention didn’t just bloom overnight. It has been an evolving process for the past few years.

    “”These guys are used to being in the spotlight,”” said UA assistant coach Miles Simon, who graduated from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., from which Jacobson recently graduated. “”They were noticed at their high school campuses, and they were noticed in the AAU circuit. Will they get magnified a little bit more here? Yes. But they’re all great kids and they know how to handle the attention, so they’ll be fine

    with that.””

    Though it is summer school, the group is already adjusting to life on campus. But it is hardly the way a non-athlete would adjust.

    “”We’re busy the whole day,”” Johnson said. “”In the morning, we have workouts, then class, then we have study hall until 1:30 (p.m.). Then we have weights until 3:30. Then we have pickup games at 5.””

    Oh, and that online nutrition class needs to be fit in somewhere.

    The team’s pickup games in McKale Center provide good competition for the newcomers, seeing as they feature most of next year’s roster, save for Kirk Walters, Chase Budinger (home in Encinitas, Calif. for the summer) and Jawann McClellan (healing knees). Former Wildcats Hassan Adams, Corey Williams, and Salim and Damon Stoudamire have even taken part in the games this summer.

    “”Obviously we can’t watch them do weight workouts or basketball workouts or pickup or anything because of the rules,”” UA assistant coach Josh Pastner said of the freshmen. “”But I know they’re working hard in all of those areas. And they’re really busting their butts in a good way academically. It’s good to start on the right foot for the fall semester.””

    Even with 12 or more units and a heftier workload poured onto their schedules in the fall, they’re still excited about the full college experience, Johnson said.

    “”Summer school is good for them,”” Simon said. “”They’re getting used to the classroom situation at the university level, and getting adjusted to Tucson so they’ll know their way around here in the fall. Everything will be a lot easier for them when the student mass gets back and there’s more than 30,000 students here.””

    The class of 2011 will be completed by the addition of 6-foot-7 forward Jamelle Horne. He will join the crew for the second summer session once he finishes up high school in San Diego. For now, it’s just the foursome.

    “”Our chemistry off the court is really good,”” Johnson said, “”so when we get on the court, we’re going to click really well.””

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