If college recruiters haven’t put Arizona on their travel schedules, then they just haven’t been paying attention to what we’ve been growing out here in the middle of the desert.
The answer is high-school athletes who are ranked No. 1 in their classes. At least one per year now for a four-year run through 2020.
First it was DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot phenom on the basketball team at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix who was named the nation’s No. 1 propsect in the Class of 2017. He led Hillcrest to a 33-6 record before leaving the prep game to play for the University of Arizona Wildcats, where he has helped that team to the lead in the Pac-12 Conference and a No. 14 national ranking.
Then it was another 7-footer, Marvin Bagley III, who considered staying home and playing in Tucson, but opted instead to take his talents to North Carolina and play for the Duke Blue Devils where, like Ayton, he is expected to be a one-and-done before entering the NBA draft.
Bagley spent much of his final years in high school ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017, but was able to graduate from high school in August and apply for reclassification to the 2018 class. His appeal to the NCAA was granted and he’s in the line-up for a Duke team ranked No. 2 in the country and a serious contender for the national title this season.
He played a year at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe and another year at Hillcrest before leaving to finish his prep career in California.
And now the attention turns to football, where Arizona is home to the No. 1 quarterback prospects in the Class of 2019 and the Class of 2020.
One of those is Spencer Rattler, who has also built a solid reputation as a basketball player, leading his Pinnacle High School team into next weeks’ state finals match-up with Mountain Pointe High. He’s the team’s second-highest scorer at 13.6 points a game.
But football is where his college future is brightest.
The junior, who the 247Sports composite has named the top quarterback prospect in the Class of 2019, has been the starting quarterback at the north Phoenix school all three years and has been on the recruiting radar screen since his freshman season when he got scholarship offers from University of Arizona and Arizona State. Since then he received offers from top-tier programs like Notre Dame and Alabama, but has committed to play at Oklahoma.
Rattler averaged more than 2,500 yards passing each of his first two years, and had a break-out season this year, throwing for 3,946 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Jack Miller, the No. 1 QB prospect for 2020, played his freshman year at Scottsdale Christian Academy before transferring to Chaparral High School for the 2017 season. Coming into his sophomore season, he had already gained the size (6’3″, 200 lbs.) he will need at the next level. And the arm strength – he can throw the ball better than 50 yards, and with accuracy.
Miller gained some national attention when he was 14 years old and received an offer to play for Ohio State.
The dual-threat quarterback burst onto the prep scene when he threw for 3,653 yards and ran for another 1,200 yards while piling up 62 touchdowns during his freshman season at SCA. This year, he played in 10 of the teams’ 12 games, but still passed the 2,000 mark for total yards – 1,735 passing and 306 rushing.
While Kansas can boast of its bountiful wheat harvests and Iowa its corn production, this state grows some of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Maybe it’s the intense desert heat they endure in off-season practice. They’re just forged to a sharper edge.