Sean Miller probably liked what he saw during the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday night. The first-year basketball coach at UofA may have had a glimpse of his future.
Three top-tier recruits on the Wildcats’ radar were playing in the game, which brings together the best high school talent from across the country.
Virginia’s Doron Lamb, a combo guard, had 12 points for the West team and Josh Selby, a 5-Star point guard from Baltimore, chipped in 13 points for the East. The other is Ray McCallum, a point guard from Detroit, who didn’t put a lot of points on the board Wednesday, but showed he knows how to get the ball to others to score.
Lamb might be the most likely to settle on Arizona. He’s still considering Kansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Connecticut. But he has developed a relationship with UA assistant coach, Book Richardson, respects Miller, and has admitted he feels he would be a good fit in Tucson.
McCallum, who averaged 21 points and six assists at Detroit Country Day, could be the other most likely to decide on playing for Miller because he feels that might be his best opportunity to get playing time sooner rather than later, since the Cats will be losing a point guard. But he has a strong pull to play for his father, the coach at Detroit Mercy.
Selby is expected by most observers to sign with Kansas, although Arizona is still on his final list, along with Kentucky, Syracuse, Indiana, and Connecticut. He has announced that his decision won’t be forthcoming for several weeks, no sooner than mid-April.
Selby was the crowd-pleaser at the McDonald’s event, winning the dunk contest, even though he was one of the shortest competitors at 6’4″. His 360 left-handed alley-oop to himself was the climax dunk that sealed the win.
Rivals.com’s Brian Snow evaluated the performance of the McDonald’s kids during the game and said… Selby scored on his usual array of shots and used his athleticism to get to the rim. He defends very well, and at the next level has the potential to be a lockdown type of guy. Lamb didn’t try much from the outside, but in that mid-range he showed he can be so lethal; his space dribble is second to none in the class. McCallum has a great idea of how to play, always knows how to make things happen, and is steady and smooth as a ball handler.
Another prized recruit that has made an official visit to the Tucson campus, back in January, is Kadeem Jack, a 6’8″ forward from Rice HS in New York. Jack, who grew up in Trinidad and didn’t start playing ball until eighth grade, had considered spending next year in a prep school to get better prepared for college. But more recently it appears he wants to play college next year, but Arizona has some stiff competition in other schools on his list like Arkansas, Florida, Syracuse and Connecticut. And, unfortunately, a couple of Pac-10 institutions, UCLA and California.
Miller still has a scholarship to offer next season. He just committed one to Jesse Perry, a 6’8″ junior college forward from Illinois. He averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds for John A. Logan College and is ranked No. 75 nationally among JUCO players.
The departure of 6’7″ forward D.J. Shumpert, who announced this week he will be transferring after two seasons with the program, helped make room for Perry and leave one more slot. Shumpert, from Santa Rita HS in Tucson, was one of the last recruits from the Lute Olson era and played in just four games as a freshman and 10 as a sophomore. He’s going to look elsewhere, with Miller’s blessing, to find a better opportunity for playing time.
Perry joins Daniel Bejarano, a combo guard from North HS in Phoenix that was the No. 1 prospect in the state and will bring with him a real scoring threat next year. The other 2010 recruit is Jordin Mayers from Los Angeles who is listed as the nation’s 28th best shooting guard. He has committed but has yet to sign his letter of intent.
Right now, Miller will be counting heavily on a core of youngsters for next season. Forward Jamelle Horne is the lone senior. Bejarano is sure to see some playing time as a freshman, and there are five sophomores: MoMo Jones at guard; forwards Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Derrick Williams; and Kyryl Natyazhko at center. Williams was a strong candidate for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year this season.
Perry, who passed up an official visit to UCLA to commit to the Cats, is thrown in with three other juniors: guards Kyle Fogg and Brendan Lavender, and center Alex Jacobson.
It will be up to this group in 2011 to get the Arizona program back to the NCAA Tournament, after failing to get a bid this season for the first time in 25 years. But, despite their youth, they were able to get their seasoning on the court earlier than on most teams since the freshmen this past year accounted for almost 50 percent of the team’s scoring. They will be ready to contribute even more as sophomores.
Year One of the AfterLute era is in the books and the UofA hoops program is beginning to bear the imprint of the Man from Xavier. In five days, he will have officially completed his first full year of the reclamation project to bring the Wildcats back to prominence.
It’s Miller Time in Tucson.