Tag:Arizona
Posted on: January 27, 2012 12:26 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Shabazz Muhammad keeps everyone guessing

No. 1 prospect Shabazz Muhammad has not given any hints as to where he's headed next year. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Everyone wants to know where Shabazz Muhammad will play his college basketball next season. As the consensus top prospect in the class of 2012, his decision has the attention of fans, casual observers, recruitniks, coaches – everyone.

Muhammad’s classmates at Bishop Gorman (Nev.) are no different.

“Probably 10 times a day in school,” Muhammad said last week when asked how often he hears the question. “Everyone wants to know. I don’t mind it. I just say I don’t know yet.

“I’m still looking at all my schools.”

Muhammad, a 6-foot-5 small forward, has had a pretty static list for the past year. UCLA, Kentucky, UNLV, Duke, Arizona, Kansas and USC are the ones jockeying for his services right now.

He’s taken his time throughout the process, only taking official visits to Kentucky and Texas A&M so far. He won’t make a decision until he’s taken all five of his officials.

“Probably when I’m done with my visits,” Muhammad said. “I have three more officials, and I’m definitely going to take them. I’ll have them scheduled in a month or so.”

For now, he said he’s looking at Duke, Kansas and Arizona for the remaining visits. Because they’re so close to home, UCLA and UNLV likely won’t receive official visits.

“It’s worthwhile to go to a farther school for an official, since they’re paying,” Muhammad said.

UNLV seems to be gaining some traction in his recruitment, especially after picking up Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch. Moreover, the hometown school has been on Muhammad as long as anyone, and the Runnin’ Rebels performance this season is just proving that the program is on the rise.

They’re certainly in the mix for Muhammad.

“The program is really coming along,” he said. “They got Khem Birch, some other recruits. They’re a great program, they’re going to be a great team. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with the recruitment.”

Muhammad also said he would be OK staying at home in Las Vegas.

John Calipari and a couple of assistants were in attendance for Muhammad’s game at the Hoophall Classic against DeMatha Catholic (Md.). The Wildcats are continuing to turn up the heat on Muhammad.

“The interest level is high,” Muhammad said. “Coach Cal was at my game. I talked to them a week ago. I just think I fit really well in their style of play.”

Another school that sent a head coach and two assistants was Duke, as Mike Krzyzewski was front-and-center for Muhammad’s nationally-televised game.

“Coach K is just a mastermind,” he said. “I’m really getting excited about going down there.”

The school that has been associated with Muhammad’s recruitment for most of the past two years was UCLA. The Bruins are squarely in the mix for him, and the addition of top-five prospect Kyle Anderson in the fall can only help.

“Who wouldn’t want to play with Kyle?” Muhammad said. “How he sees the floor is just remarkable.”

Another school in the running for an official visit from Muhammad is Arizona. The Wildcats have the top recruiting class in the country right now, and adding the No. 1 prospect would cement its spot atop the rankings.

Moreover, Sean Miller would have one of the most talented rosters around.

“I think I would fit really well,” Muhammad said. “They run a high-tempo style.”

Style of play is Muhammad’s most important factor in his recruitment. He prefers a mostly half-court style where he could use his tremendous scoring ability to his advantage, but he also wants some fast-break opportunities where he can get out in transition.

Muhammad won’t let the pressure get to him; he’s set on taking his time and making an informed decision after his season ends.

“It’s kind of weighing on me, but I’m still weighing my options out.”

Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Notebook: Amedeo Della Valle taking his time

By Jeff Borzello

Amedeo Della Valle didn’t emerge on the scene until about four months ago, but he’s still managed to cement himself as one of the best available guards in the country.

Della Valle, a 6-foot-5 native of Italy, has been starting for Findlay Prep (Nev.) this season. Getting a chance to play alongside top-10 guys like Brandon Ashley and Anthony Bennett has given him an opportunity to get seen by plenty of schools.

He is currently hearing from Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgetown, California, Oklahoma State, Saint Mary’s, Utah and Portland.

The only school he has visited so far was Arizona.

“It was a game against San Diego State, which they lost,” Della Valle said. “But I got to walk the campus, see the facilities.”

Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.

It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.

“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”

Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.

“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”

Other Findlay notes:

- Five-star forward Anthony Bennett said he hasn’t talked to any coaches in awhile, instead focused on recovering from injury and the season. He plans to take all five visits and will wait until after the end of the season. Washington, Kentucky, Florida, UNLV and Oregon are the five schools on his list.

- Winston Shepard saw his stock rise a bit since the Hoophall Classic, getting an offer from Connecticut in the past two weeks. New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Oklahoma State and UTEP were his final five, with St. John’s and Oregon also sniffing around. Shepard doesn’t have any visits planned, but he has already tripped to New Mexico.

- Former UNLV commit Nigel Williams-Goss hasn’t narrowed things down yet. The junior guard still has the Runnin’ Rebels in the mix, but Washington, Oregon, Harvard, Arizona and UCLA are coming at him the hardest.

Photo: Findlay Prep

Posted on: November 23, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: November 23, 2011 11:27 am
 

Noah Vonleh stands out against upperclassmen

By Jeff Borzello

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The National Prep Showcase focuses primarily on the seniors and fifth-year players that are looking to make a last impression on college coaches in attendance.

This past weekend at Albertus Magnus College, though, the most impressive player might have been an underclassman, 2014 forward Noah Vonleh.

The New Hampton Prep (Mass.) averaged 17.0 points and 16.5 rebounds in two victories.

“I thought I played pretty good,” Vonleh said. “I’ve been working on my shooting and getting my handle better.”

Vonleh is only 6-foot-8, but he might be the best rebounder in his class. He has tremendous leaping ability and tracks the ball extremely well. His strength is always a major help.

“I’m long and athletic,” he said. “I just jump and get it.”

There are plenty of schools in the mix for his services. Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, Arizona, Xavier, Georgia Tech, Auburn, UCLA, Georgetown and Connecticut are all pursuing him with vigor.

Right now, Vonleh is certainly among the top 10 sophomores in the country. After his performance, he makes a case for moving even higher, potentially into the top three.

He said he would remain humble either way.

“I don’t let it get to my head,” Vonleh said.

Photo: Scott Hazelton Basketball

Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Sean Miller hauls unlikely No. 1 class in Arizona

By Jeff Goodman

Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett.

Three of the elite big men in the entire country, all headed to the same place.

Tucson, Arizona.

A decade or so ago, this would hardly be newsworthy. Lute Olson was doing this sort of thing all the time, plucking the best of the best - especially on the west coast.

But Arizona hasn't been, Arizona, for a while now.

That's set to change with Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett - in addition to consensus Top 50 guard Gabe York - all signing with Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats.

Ashley checks in at No. 3 overall in our rankings, Tarczewski is at No. 5 while Jerrett (No. 23) is also a legitimate McDonald's All-American candidate.

This is a class that stands at numero uno right now - without any question or hesitation - and it's also one that no one expected out of Miller when took the job a couple years ago.

Miller was an east coast guy who had virtually no recruiting ties west of the Mississippi, but he's been able to make inroads in California - and that's a state that has been primed to invade lately with the inability of Ben Howland to secure elite local talent and the hesitation of Kevin O'Neill to go after (or secure) potential one-and-done guys.

Sure, Miller was fortunate that USC let Derrick Williams out of his letter of intent and ended up in Tucson. He was lucky that he was able to persuade former Xavier signee Kevin Parrom to come with him to Arizona.

But this was a program with as much instability as any in the nation a few years ago.

It appeared to be in the same realm as Indiana, a major rebuilding process that could take years for it to be nationally relevant again.

Now Miller, just two years removed, is beating Kentucky and Phil Knight, I mean Oregon, for studs like Ashley. He got John Calipari twice this year and also nabbed Tarczewski over Kansas and North Carolina.

That's mind-boggling.

More on recruiting
However, the most shocking aspect of his current class is that the 7-foot Tarczewski committed with Ashley and Jerrett already in the fold. This could be the most talented trio of big men in the country in any one spot a year from now - and we haven't even touched on current Arizona freshmen Angelo Chol or Sidiki Johnson - both big men who cracked the Top 100 in the previous recruiting class.

With this group that will ink in the early signing period, Miller has put Arizona back where Olson had it in his heyday.

Just imagine a starting unit of sophomore guards Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson in the backcourt with a healthy Parrom or Solomon Hill (both will be seniors) on the wing and some combination of Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett up front. Then you'll have guys like Johnson, Chol and York coming off the bench.

That's a team that can compete for a league - and likely even a national - championship.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: October 31, 2011 2:58 pm
 

Tarczewski cements top spot for Arizona's class

By Jeff Borzello

Barring multiple major moves from another school, the No. 1 recruiting class for 2012 will belong to Arizona.

With three top-30 recruits already in the fold, Monday’s announcement by Kaleb Tarczewski that he would attend Arizona – over Kansas – only cemented the Wildcats’ spot atop the rankings.

Tarczewski, a 7-foot center from St. Mark’s (Mass.), is ranked No. 7 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100. He runs the floor extremely well for a player his size, and knows how to finish around the basket. Tarczewski can score with both hands and he continues to develop various post moves.

He will join No. 6 Brandon Ashley, No. 23 Gabe York and No. 29 Grant Jerrett in the Wildcats’ 2012 class. Essentially, Sean Miller now has two top-10 prospects as well as two other players who could end up as McDonald’s All-Americans. It’s not Kentucky getting four of the top-17 players like John Calipari did in 2011, but it’s close enough – and certainly good enough to be the No. 1 class around.

Tarczewski’s commitment also means more than just giving Arizona the top-ranked recruiting class in 2012. The Wildcats might be the preseason favorite to cut down the nets next season.

Miller brought in a top-five recruiting class last season, and all four of those players will likely stick around for next season. Just think about this lineup:

  • Point guard: Josiah Turner
  • Shooting guard: Nick Johnson
  • Small forward: Kevin Parrom or Solomon Hill
  • Power forward: Brandon Ashley
  • Center: Kaleb Tarczewski

Turner and Johnson were both five-star guards in 2011, while Parrom or Hill will provide a veteran presence in the lineup. The bench will include Jordin Mayes, York, Jerrett, Sidiki Johnson, Angelo Chol and either Parrom or Hill. That team is certainly capable of winning a national championship in two seasons.

Just think about where Arizona was a few years ago. Prior to last season, Arizona had not won more than 21 games since 2005, and even snapped their 25-year streak of reaching the NCAA tournament when they missed out on the Big Dance in 2010. With Derrick Williams leading the way last year, Arizona came within a game of the Final Four, and Miller has the Wildcats as a top-20 team again this season even without Williams.

There were rampant rumors this offseason that Miller would leave Arizona for the vacant head coaching job at Maryland. However, he decided to stay in Tucson and continue to rebuild Arizona.

It looks like the rebuilding is over – the Wildcats are back among the nation’s elite.

Photo: Adidas Nations

Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Brandon Ashley is off the board to Arizona



By Jeff Borzello

Despite being considered an Arizona lean for much of his recruitment, Brandon Ashley still had a long list of suitors on his trail.

On Monday, Ashley confirmed popular opinion and committed to Arizona.

“He committed minutes ago,” Findlay Prep assistant coach Todd Simon told CBSSports.com.

Ashley visited Arizona’s campus on Sunday after the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game in Venice Beach, Calif. He chose the Wildcats over Oregon, Kentucky and UCLA.

Ashley, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Oakland who transferred to Findlay for the fall, is ranked No. 6 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100. He has one of the best skillsets of any frontcourt prospect, using his athleticism and length to make plays in a variety of ways. Ashley can run the floor and finish in transition, but he also has effective post moves around the basket. He can step out and knock down face-up jumpers, and he is also solid on the defensive end and on the glass.

Ashley is the third top-30 commit in Arizona’s 2012 class, joining guard Gabe York (No. 24) and forward Grant Jerrett (No. 30).

Photo: Five-Star Basketball

Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:49 am
 

Recruiting picks up for Torren Jones

By Jeff Borzello

Since the end of his high school season, Torren Jones made an effort to expand his game. Instead of being just a run and jump big man who scored in transition, Jones began to make plays on his own.

“I played really well this summer,” Jones said. “I started to use the 15-foot jump shot, along with some more post moves.”

With the development in his game, recruiting has also picked up for the 6-foot-8 power forward from Basha (Ariz.). Jones said Florida State, West Virginia, Georgetown, San Jose State and Kansas have started to show interest after his play with California Supreme during the summer.

Moreover, he currently holds offers from Arizona and Colorado, with interest coming from Oregon State, Washington State, UCLA, USC, Iowa State and DePaul.

“The process is going great,” Jones said.

He did say Arizona, UCLA, USC, Kansas and Iowa State were the five schools currently standing out. UCLA and USC are the two he’s visited the most due to playing with Cal Supreme on the AAU circuit.

“I’m looking for good academics, style of play and location,” Jones said.

Being from Arizona and playing with a California-based travel team, he is more interested in West Coast teams. However, he’s not afraid to go away for school, either.

“I would like to stay close to home,” Jones said. “But if a good East Coast school offers, I will go there.”

Despite the recent uptick in recruiting, Jones – ranked No. 81 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100 for 2013 – is in no hurry to make a decision.

“I am going to hold out until my senior year,” he said. “Make sure I make the right choice.”

Photo: Five-Star Basketball

Posted on: August 17, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Allerik Freeman trimming list to nine

By Jeff Borzello

June was the key month for Allerik Freeman.

Prior to it, he was considering a prospect that could play at the high-major level. After big-time weekends at the Nike Elite 100 and NBPA Top 100 Camp, Freeman became one of the most sought-after players in the country.

An impressive July vaulted him to the No. 15 spot in the CBSSports.com Top 100.

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and I played more on the main stage this year,” Freeman said.

While he has always been able to use his strength and finishing ability to execute off the dribble, Freeman expanded his game in the past few months to make himself more dangerous.

“My pull-up three ball,” he said. “I’ve zoned in on my mid-range game, and just using my speed and size.”

In terms of recruiting, so many schools are pursuing Freeman that he barely remembers all of them.

He holds offers from North Carolina State, Miami (Fl.), Florida, Kansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Xavier, UNLV, Georgetown, Baylor, Oklahoma, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Memphis, Texas, Villanova and Wake Forest, while also hearing from North Carolina, Clemson, Marquette, DePaul, Florida State and Arizona.

With upwards of 30 schools vying for his services, Freeman is ready to start eliminating suitors.

“I’m cutting it to nine by August 25th,” he said.

Photo: VUHoops.com 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com