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November 16, 2012

Friday rewind: The week in UA recruiting



It continues to be an important time for recruiting in both the basketball and football recruiting worlds. Obviously it was an important week for basketball recruiting as Wednesday marked the first day recruits could sign with their respective programs during the early signing period. And as the football season nears its end, many prospects are beginning to look at their recruitments once again.

Arizona is doing well in both sports as the Wildcats signed both of their basketball commits this weekend when Elliott Pitts and five-star wing Rondae Jefferson both faxed in their National Letters of Intent this week.

On the football side of things the recruiting process continued as the 'Cats prepared for another road game this week. For both squads there is promising news as things continue to move forward.

Here's a look back at the week that was when it comes to UA recruiting.

Football

The Wildcats have made it a point to offer recruits early on in the process so far in the Rich Rodriguez era, and often times that has paid off with a commitment. One prospect who is sure to see plenty of offers is 2014 running back recruit Nick Wilson. UA recently became the first to offer the Fresno (Calif.) Central East recruit and it has certainly made an impression on him.

Wilson came out with an early set of favorites and UA was right in that mix along with Boise State, Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame.

"I've been talking to Arizona a lot," Wilson told Rivals.com this week. "... They're a really good school and I really like them. I noticed them over the years and now that they've offered I'm paying more attention and I really like them."

At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, the speedy running back fits what the Wildcats want to do on offense. He was named a four-star recruit earlier this week by Rivals.com when his name was one of the many on the Rivals250 watch list for the 2014 class.

"I wouldn't categorize my style as a bruiser or a speed back," he told BearTerritory.net this week. "I feel like I'm more of a balanced kind of runner. I run hard and I don't give up on any of my runs. I'm fast, but I'll hit if I need to -- and I usually do."

Even though having a big class months before National Signing Day has allowed UA to start working on the 2014 class, it has not forgotten about the current high school seniors. One recruit who has continued to keep the Wildcats in mind is committed to another Pac-12 school, but he knows he will be taking an official visit to Tucson.

Four-star defensive tackle - and Washington commit - Elijah Qualls has always held the Wildcats in high regard, and as of now it will be one of two schools to receive an official visit from him after the season is over.

"I'm still going to take visits," Qualls told Rivals.com this week. "Arizona still, I'll go to Miami if I can get a hold of the coaches. I'd like to go there but I haven't been talking to them much. I'm definitely going to visit Washington for sure. Oregon State could be a possibility and Nebraska could be a possibility. There are a few other options that could happen.

"Everybody still talks to me and there is still interest so I'm going to consider visits. For sure Washington and Arizona and then the other ones aren't definite yet."

Qualls committed to the Huskies over the summer, but he also hasn't been shy about his desire to see some other places and make sure he made the right decision.

Another recruit who UA is recruiting along the line plays on the offensive side of the ball. In-state prospect Natrell Curtis has helped his team from Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe get to the Division I semifinal round. The four-star offensive guard prospect doesn't want to name any favorites at this point, but he does hold offers from both in-state programs.

"Nebraska was my latest offer," he told GOAZCATS.com. "But nobody is pushing harder than anybody else, they're all even right now."

Even though Curtis said all schools are even in his mind, there are still things he's looking for in his future program.

"Besides football really just school," he said. "How many kids graduate from that school and how many African-Americans graduate from that school. A team that wins and has tradition and also somewhere close where my mom can come see me play."

Basketball

The Wildcats are off to a 2-0 start this season after knocking off UTEP on Thursday night. Prior to that win UA beat Charleston Southern last weekend to open the year on a winning note. In the stands for that game was four-star recruit Jordan McLaughlin, and the point guard prospect definitely like what he saw on his unofficial visit.

It was an important few days for the Etiwanda, Calif., standout as he had just watched a game at the renovated Pauley Pavilion a few days before heading out to Tucson. Both UCLA and UA have expressed quite a bit of interest in the 2014 prospect.

"Well I went to the UCLA opening night game," he told GOAZCATS.com this week. "That was great. The new Pauley Pavilion is really a sight to see. And I went to Arizona this past weekend and it was really nice.

"Those both were really nice atmospheres, and I could see myself playing at either one."

Getting out on a visit once the season started was something that had been in the works since the summer, so getting the chance to see UA play in person was an important part of the trip for McLaughlin.

"Yeah, it is always a good experience because you actually get a feel for the coaches and the school," he said.

McLaughlin still has plenty of time to make his decision, but a recruit who has a little less time decided to trim his list down a little further Thursday night.

Five-star forward Aaron Gordon made the decision to cut two more schools out of the process leaving just UA, Washington and Kentucky as possible destinations. The 2013 prospect has used all of his five allotted official visits and now he will wait back and see what the season holds for the three programs.

"I'm glad it's over now," Gordon told Rivals.com. "I can compare and contrast (schools)."

Gordon's last official visit was to Lexington and his father, Ed Gordon, felt it was a good experience for the explosive senior.

"The visit went really, really well," Ed Gordon told CatsIllustrated.com this week. "We were pleasantly surprised about a program that to be honest we didn't know a whole lot about going in. It was a very positive experience."

For now the plan is to likely wait until the spring to make a decision as that will give Gordon a chance to see how the three programs perform during the season.

Matt MorenoMatt Moreno
GOAZCATS.com Senior Recruiting Editor

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