Point Guard U is enrolling again.
The University of Arizona men’s basketball program earned that moniker during the Lute Olson era when the hall-of-fame coach was regularly recruiting some of the top talent in the country at the point-guard position.
Names like Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby, Jerryd Bayless, and Jason Terry come to mind immediately.
Ironically, the program’s current head coach, Sean Miller, was a point guard in college. One of the better points in the business, in fact. He led the University of Pittsburgh to three NCAA appearances and is still ranked 18th in career points at Pitt with 1,282. He was tops on the team from three-point range and deadly from the free-throw line; his .885 accuracy in shooting free throws is 10th on the NCAA D-I all-time list and his 744 career assists puts him third in the Big East Conference.
There’s a lot he can teach players at that position and undoubtedly a big reason he is attracting top talent. He has successfully replaced Olson as the Dean of Students at Point Guard U.
Miller took over the UofA program eight years ago and the acquisition of five-star prospect Josiah Turner in September of 2011 looked like the Tucson school might soon begin to replicate its former reputation as a producer of top point guards.
A series of off-court issues led to Turner’s dismissal from the program after just one season. But Miller rebounded by adding another 5-star stud to play the point, picking up Parker Jackson-Cartwright as the second addition to his Class of 2014.
PJ-C is still with the program and is about to embark on his senior season. The under-sized (5’9″) California recruit missed six games last season with a high-ankle sprain, but still appeared in 31 games as he led the Pac-12 and was ranked 13th in the NCAA with a 3.09 assist-to-turnover ratio.
And now Miller has re-stocked the shelves with another five-star point guard to be able to step in when Jackson-Cartwright graduates.
Jahvon Quinerly used halftime of Tuesday’s SC30 Select Showcase game on ESPNU to announce his decision to play for the Wildcats. An official visit to the Tucson campus on June 24 apparently helped seal the deal and the high-profile prospect cancelled pending visits to UCLA and Kansas next month. Villanova was thought to be the other team Quinerly had at the top of his list.
The 6-foot, 170 -pound guard was considered the top prospect at his position in the state of New Jersey, where he attended Hudson Catholic in Jersey City. ESPN and Rivals.com have him ranked as No. 16 overall in the Class of 2018 and Scout puts him at No. 20. He’s slotted at No. 15 by 247 Sports, which also ranks him the fourth best point guard in the class.
Miller may get a ‘two-fer’ out of the deal. It’s believed that Quinerly will now begin working on getting good friend Naz Reid, who plays with Quinerly on the summer circuit, to join him in Tucson. Reid is a 6’9″ forward who 247 Sports ranks at No. 11 overall. The Cats are on his short list.
With or without Reid, the Cats will likely now become the top-ranked recruiting class for 2018. Already on board are 4-star guard Brandon Williams, who also plays point, and 4-star power forward Shareef O’Neal, son of NBA legend Shaq O’Neal.
Miller says he will likely add another five players to the 2018 class, but that could go to six or seven. Depending on who else he snags in his recruiting nets, the team he’s assembling for 2018 could legitimately challenge for a national title.
But this year’s team can’t be overlooked. The 2017 group, considered by most services as among the top three classes in the country, is shaping up like a team that can at least get Miller to his first final four appearance in 13 years of coaching, and maybe more.
After years of pulling in Top 5 recruiting classes, Arizona is becoming a snow ball rolling down a hill. It seems to pick up increasing momentum each year as Tucson becomes an attractive landing spot for elite talent who want to play where they will get a legitimate chance to play for a national title.