Sean Miller is doing his best to prove that old aphorism that says “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”
The University of Arizona head basketball coach has taken yet another 5-star player off the market, enriching his already wealthy program at the expense of other less-fortunate schools that would offer a blood sacrifice to have just one 5-star.
But that’s what it’s going to take Miller to break through the ceiling he keeps hitting when his team gets to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament – which he’s done four times with two different programs. Considered one of the best college coaches in the game today, Miller has yet to bag his first Final Four appearance.
The addition of Terrance Ferguson a week ago gives him one more arrow in his quiver as he assembles another Top-5 recruiting class for next season. That makes it six top-10 classes in a row for Miller.
Ferguson joins three other incoming 5-star prospects that have already been scooped up in Miller’s recruiting nets: point guard Kobi Jordan-Simmons from Atlanta, wing Rawle Alkins from North Carolina, and European import Lauri Markkanen at forward.
The roster was getting so heavy with elite talent that another prized commit decided to go elsewhere to find playing time. Justin Simon was another 5-star out of college, but saw limited playing time in his freshman season. He played in 24 games this year, but his limited time on the floor resulted in just 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds a game.
The 6’5″ guard had been ranked No. 37 in the 2015 recruiting class by ESPN and was recruited by top-tier programs like Kansas, Maryland, and North Carolina – and still couldn’t get enough playing time with the Wildcats. He’s now on the roster at St. John’s where he will be a big fish in a smaller pond.
Ferguson’s credentials are even more impressive than those of Simon. The 6’7″ shooting guard from Texas is No. 13 on the ESPN 100 and ranked as the No. 2 shooting guard in his class by 247Sports.
Some analysts have promoted him as the best shooting guard in the Class of 2016, an evaluation that Ferguson appeared to validate by winning the three-point contest at the prestigious Elite 24 camp and setting a new record at the Nike Hoops Summit a couple of weeks ago, draining seven three-point attempts.
He had originally committed to play at Alabama, where he was the highest-ranked recruit that program has snagged in the last 10 years, but changed his mind last month. After an official visit to the Arizona campus four weeks ago, he decided to take his game to the desert and join an already-stacked roster of talent.
The Wildcats made an unexpected exit from the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round to Wichita State. It was a stunning setback for a team that many had predicted would go deep into the tournament.
Miller has some talent returning from that squad, who are no doubt looking to avenge that disappointing end to the 2015-16 season.
Now he has some additional firepower to make sure it doesn’t happen again next season.