Miller’s ‘poster boys’ could bring UA basketball a nat’l title

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2014/10/millers-poster-boys-bring-ua-basketball-natl-crown/' addthis:title='Miller’s ‘poster boys’ could bring UA basketball a nat’l title'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>  The men’s basketball program at University of Arizona might best be described as a sort of tsunami in the desert. When one huge wave of talent hits the shoreline […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2014/10/millers-poster-boys-bring-ua-basketball-natl-crown/' addthis:title='Miller’s ‘poster boys’ could bring UA basketball a nat’l title'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

 

The men’s basketball program at University of Arizona might best be described as a sort of tsunami in the desert.

When one huge wave of talent hits the shoreline and washes away, another bigger one rolls in right behind.

Case in point: When Chance Comanche gave his commitment to the Wildcats basketball program three weeks ago it locked in the No. 1 recruiting class of 2015, as assessed by virtually all of the major recruiting services.  And for those that had already listed the Cats as the best class next year, it simply confirmed what they had already suspected.

Comanche is a 6’11” center/power forward from Beverly Hills, Calif., one of the top players in that state and ranked as high as No. 31 in the country overall by Rivals.com.  The four-star recruit will join with five 5-star prospects that have already committed to play for the Cats in 2015.

Head coach Sean Miller will also have an enviable back court, with three of the top guards in the country arriving for next season.  They include Allonzo Trier, who committed last month.  He is rated by 247Sports as the No. 2 shooting guard in the country and was schooled at Findaly Prep, the basketball factory in Nevada.  And Miller raided the West Coast again for the other two, point guard Justin Simon, and Tyler Dorsey, who can play either guard spot.

For the record, the Class of 2015 is the fifth consecutive recruiting class ranked in the top five nationally.

And that includes the one that will be hitting the hardwood in McKale Center this season, a class considered by most analysts to also be one of the best in the nation.  It is definitely the best in the Pac-12 – which should give the Cats a leg up to repeating as conference regular-season champions… and maybe exacting revenge on UCLA for beating them in the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The UofA Athletic Department has already seized on the fan frenzy over the potential of this year’s team to make a Final Four run by commissioning artist Allison Smith to create a poster depicting sketches of the entire team to go with the season schedule.  There’s an online contest to win one of five autographed by Coach Miller, but the posters are also available at select locations around Tucson and in Phoenix.

Here’s some of the inspiration for the poster, the largesse that came in the five-man 2014 recruiting class that Miller will be blending into this year’s roster and, in some cases, even the starting line-up:

Stanley Johnson is the crown jewel of this class, a 6’7″ forward from Mater Dei High School in California that will likely be a one-and-done.  Miller will probably insert his imposing 225 body into the line-up right away, helping to replace some of the talent lost with the departure of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to the NBA.

Like Gordon, he has the size to be a force underneath the basket and the ability to drive to the hoop, post up smaller defenders, and also shoot from the outside.  After a year of college ball, he should be developed enough to be considered as a lottery pick for the 2015 draft.

Craig Victor is another 6’7″ forward that likely won’t start, but could be one of the first contributors off the bench.  Like Johnson, he brings a lot to the party with great low-post abilities, rebounding, shooting – and the ability to run the floor to fit nicely into Miller’s fast transition offense.  ESPN had him ranked 37th in the country following his senior year in high school.

Kadeem Allen brings some serious playing experience to the Wildcat program after being named the Junior College Player of the Year while playing at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.  He averaged 26 points and seven rebounds a game and could be the weapon Miller needs for a scoring boost off the bench.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright will be one of the smallest college guards in the country at 5’8″ and 150 pounds, but he’s a lot of fun to watch.  He will see duty this season as a back-up point guard, learning the craft behind senior T.J. McConnell, but will likely make an impact whenever he is on the court since he can score in so many different ways – most of them opportunities for the highlight reels. He’s another five-star prospect out of California, which is turning into the land of milk and honey for Miller and his staff.

And Dusan Ristic brings the added height the Cats will need to go deep into the post-season.  At seven-foot tall, the big man from Serbia will give Arizona some additional depth in the interior and solid help off the bench as he backs up the 7-footer that has the starting spot locked up, junior Kaleb Tarczewski.  A four-star recruit, Ristic was ranked by ESPN as No. 15 among the nation’s prospects at center.

So how far can this team take Arizona this year?

Consider that the Cats won 33 games and a conference title last year, earned a No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament, and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight.  This year’s squad is deeper and, in some ways, more talented.

So tell me that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a national title run.

(Artwork: Allison Smith / Arizona Athletics)