Arizona’s top prep basketball player commits to UA

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If you’re a high school point guard with lots of talent and upside, what better place to play in college than a school often referred to as ‘Point Guard U’?

Evidently, that’s the way Alex Barcello sees it.

Barcello, ranked by 247Sports as the best prep baseketball player in Arizona, committed late Friday to play for the University of Arizona Wildcats.

The senior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe was in the middle of a whistle-stop tour of the five schools left on his short list of suitors when he decided to pull the trigger during his visit to the Tucson campus.  He had already made official visits to Butler and Stanford, and had Virginia and Indiana left on his schedule following the Arizona visit.

But, after a dinner with coaches and players Thursday night, followed by a tour of the campus and a chance to watch practice on Friday, the youngster pulled the trigger and made his announcement on Twitter before the day was done.

The 6’2″ guard now becomes the face of the future of the Wildcat program and follows so many successful point guards from the past, including Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, and Gilbert Arenas, and others.  Thus the moniker ‘Point Guard U’.

Barcello, who was the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year as a sophomore, played a key role in two of Corona’s string of four straight state championships that ended last year in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.  He scored 29 points in that game, but it wasn’t enough to enable the Aztecs to extend their reign.

Since Arizona was the only in-state program on his pared-down list, it had to be assumed the Cats might have had the ‘home court’ advantage.  But Barcello says that wasn’t an important consideration. After all, his other choices were all over the map.

He points out that Arizona was just the right fit for him, an environment that was comfortable, and a coaching staff that had made a real connection with him and his goals.

It also helped that the UofA is a tradition-rich program that has been pulling in top-10 recruiting classes the last five years, has advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight three times during the seven years since Sean Miller took over as head coach, and was the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for a good part of the 2013-14 season.

And Barcello no doubt factored in the fact that Miller has produced seven NBA draft picks in his time in Tucson, five of whom were taken in the first round.

Even with Barcello’s commitment, the Arizona coaching staff is still scrambling to fill out the 2017 recruiting class. He is just the second on board, following the addition of Lauri Markkanen, a Finnish forward, last fall.

But the addition of a high-profile in-state player like Barcello should make the recruiting job easier.  Good players want to play with other good players.

And more and more of them are finding their way to the Old Pueblo.