Sean Miller has found another five-star point guard to lead his Arizona Wildcats into the future. Parker Jackson-Cartwirght, only the second recruit to join the Class of 2014, is just the second five-star prospect Miller has snagged in nearly a decade as a college head coach.
Now that he’s found another, he has to hope this one lasts longer than the last.
The disappointment that came with the recruitment of Josiah Turner, also a multi-talented point guard, is still fresh in the minds of most Wildcat fans. Turner made his commitment to Miller on Sept. 19 of 2011 and his acquisition was widely touted as the beginning of Arizona’s return to the old days under Lute Olson when it was known as “Point Guard U” because of the talent the hall-of-fame coach was able to bring to that position.
By mid-April of 2012, the school announced the young man would be transferring out of Tucson. His short layover in the Old Pueblo was filled with angst. Miller suspended him twice during his first and only season, and the final straw came with the second suspension because it came just before the Pac-12 Tournament.
Without their point guard on the floor, the Cats lost to Colorado in the championship game, and then went on to get bumped out of the NIT Tournament in the opening round. They were the No. 1 seed in the tourney.
That was the ultimate indignity, and Turner was encouraged to move on to see if he could find a coach who was more accommodating to his way of doing things.
His departure really hurt when you consider he was leaving just as the next recruiting class was about to arrive – a class that had been ranked by some analysts as the No. 1 class in the country.
But this season was saved when an old friend appeared on Miller’s doorstep to lead the program to a top-10 national ranking (currently No. 11). Mark Lyons left Xavier University, where Miller recruited him to play for the Musketeers while he was head coach there, and had one year of eligibility left as a graduate student – enough to bridge the gap until T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, can presumably take over.
McConnell, an All-Atlantic 10 player as a sophomore, has two years of eligibility left. So he could become the bridge to Jackson-Cartwright – assuming the young man with three names realizes his early promise.
He’s just 5’9″ and is generously listed at 145 pounds, but that’s something that will be corrected with a good college weight program – the weight, not the height. But he’s just a junior in high school, so the vertical growth may also come. The Arizona coaching staff is counting on his being able to compensate for lack of size with an ability to run the floor, understand the game at a higher level, and bring a quickness to his position you can’t teach.
Jackson-Cartwright averaged 14 points a game this season for Loyola High School in Los Angeles, but his stats reportedly include eight assists and two steals per game – and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 8-1. He evidently has some hops as well, since he contributed five rebounds a game as well.
ESPN has him ranked as the No. 7 point guard in the Class of 2014 and Scout.com puts him as the sixth-best at his position.
Miller has had him at the top of his priority list for some time and got his oral commitment during an official campus visit over the weekend. But now comes the next challenge…holding on to him. He was heavily recruited by some quality programs, including just about every team in the Pac-12.
It’s a long way until Nov. 13, when recruits can begin signing their National Letters of Intent.
Until then, the Arizona coaches just have to keep their fingers crossed – and stay real close to the kid.