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August 8, 2013

Predicting 2014: A look at Arizona's upcoming class



The month of July brought some clarity to Arizona's recruiting situation over as the Wildcats look toward the future while still preparing for the upcoming season. That's how recruiting works these days, coaching staffs - including Sean Miller's - have to think about the future classes with many recruits still opting to turn pro after just one year in college.

With the quick pace at which recruits are committing and making decisions, it has forced programs to look at recruits earlier and earlier. With that there are prospects who are getting offered even before they step into high school. Arizona has plenty of offers out for the 2014 and 2015 classes as those are the next two groups to make decisions.

To make some sense of all that you need to know, GOAZCATS.com has decided to write an overview of the entire situation from how many scholarships will likely be available in the upcoming classes to predictions for who will take those spots.

So have a look as we try to make sense of all the offers, and what you can expect moving forward throughout the upcoming recruiting cycles. This will be the first of two articles going into to detail about the topics listed above, and this article will deal with the 2014 class.

We will have a separate story on the 2015 class and what you can expect come that time.

SCHOLARSHIPS

First off we're going to take a look at the scholarship situation heading into next season. Arizona has 13 total scholarships it can use once again as it did in the 2013 class. Here's a breakdown of the scholarship situation as it looks looking past this year, including a few predictions at the end.

The Wildcats will have just one scholarship senior coming off after the 2013 season as Jordin Mayes will be the only one who fits into that category. Having said that here's a look at how the Wildcats will look heading into the following year.

2014 seniors: Even though there has been plenty of movement with the 2011 class with the departures of guys like Sidiki Johnson, Josiah Turner, and Angelo Chol there are still others who have filled into that group. Nick Johnson, Matt Korcheck, and T.J. McConnell will all be seniors by the time the 2014 season rolls around. (10 scholarships left)

2014 juniors: There has already been one departure from the loaded 2012 recruiting class with Grant Jerrett opting to go to the NBA after just one season in Tucson. In this day and age that's somewhat come to be expected, however, especially when you recruit at the level Arizona does.

That has left three members of that highly-touted group left including Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Gabe York. Arizona also added Zach Peters in the spring who is listed as sophomore on the Wildcats' roster. That takes the number down four more in the 2014 class. (6)

2014 sophomores: Arizona added some more key pieces heading into this season with three 2013 prospects in Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Elliott Pitts. Not taking anything else into account that would take the total down another three come the 2014 season. (3)

So that would leave Arizona three open scholarships heading into the rest of this year and next as it puts together its 2014 class.

Now that there is a more definite number to look at, GOAZCATS.com believes Arizona eventually will end up with more than that before all is said and done. Here is a quick look at what we expect to open up by the time the 2014 class is settled.

By now there is plenty of hype surrounding incoming freshman Aaron Gordon. He certainly made a name for himself as a five-star recruit, and GOAZCATS.com is among those who believes he will be a one-and-done leaving another scholarship open in 2014.

We don't feel it will stop there, however, as there is also a good chance more will open up. When you recruit like Arizona does there is always the chance for transfers or players opting to turn pro early. We believe that when all is said and done the Wildcats will have another scholarship open up prior to the 2014 class through either a transfer or a current player (Johnson, Tarczewski, Ashley) deciding to look to the professional ranks.

Having said that GOAZCATS.com believes Arizona will have five scholarships available for the 2014 class.

OFFERS

The next step that we'll look at in the process is the number of offers Arizona has given to recruits in the 2014 class. The Wildcats - even up until late in the July evaluation period - were still extending offers to members of the 2014 class, so it has become somewhat of a confusing situation heading into the rest of the summer.

We're going to break up the offers Arizona has extended into two groups: older offers and newer offers. Keep in mind this list is made up of recruits Arizona has offered who are currently uncommitted so the list of total offers is actually larger by about half a dozen recruits.

Older offers

Point guards - Emmanuel Mudiay, Jordan McLaughlin, Tyus Jones, Josh Perkins

Shooting guards - Justise Winslow, Kameron Chatman, Dorian Pickens, Namon Wright, Isaiah Whitehead

Small forwards - Stanley Johnson, Malik Pope, Paul White, Kelly Oubre

Power forwards - Cliff Alexander, Craig Victor, Reid Travis

Centers - Jahlil Okafor, Payton Dastrup

Newer offers:

Point guards - none

Shooting guards - Rashad Vaughn, Trevon Bluiett, Trey Kell

Small forwards - Terry Larrier

Power forwards - LeRon Black

Centers - Myles Turner

PREDICTIONS

Now that we've established the recruits Arizona's staff has offered it's time to take a look at who we believe the Wildcats will end up with when the 2014 class is all settled. Both recruiting editor Matt Moreno and West Coast basketball recruiting analyst Devin Ugland will give their picks as to who the Wildcats will use their scholarships on in the class.

GOAZCATS.com feels that although we believe the Wildcats will have five scholarships to use on the 2014 class they won't necessarily do so.

First up Ugland will explain who he believes the Wildcats will earn commitments from, then Moreno will explain his predictions.

Devin UglandDevin Ugland's Predictions:
GOAZCATS.com West Coast recruiting analyst

The 2014 Arizona recruiting class has already gotten off to a stellar start. By now, everyone surely knows that UA added one of its prized possessions of the class in rising senior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Now, with the steady-handed, pass-eager lead-guard on board, Miller & Co. can focus on bringing together the other pieces on their wish list.

During the live period of July, the Wildcats' coaching staff spread out coast-to-coast in order to show the necessary love to each and every prospect they're targeting. Certainly, Arizona is in great position to land a few more top-tier recruits, especially with PJC as the ultimate trump card. But, who exactly will they land, and where will the missed chips fall?

Who Arizona lands:

Stanley Johnson: Johnson really knows his way in, out and all the way around an interview with any member of the media, which makes it really difficult to get any idea which way he is leaning. Kentucky has come on strong as of late for the five-star small forward, and that's a tough school to beat out when it comes to landing a recruit. But, Miller has shown his recruiting chops before when swiping Gordon out from under UK and Tarczewski from Kansas, and I think he does the same with Johnson. You can fully expect the No. 8 player in 2014 to be patient with his decision, take all of his official visits and make an educated decision on where he will attend college. I think his collegiate hypothesis will end with the proof that Tucson is the place for him.

Craig Victor: All signs point to Victor being the next big piece to commit to UA. Arizona made front and center appearances at nearly every one of his games in Las Vegas, and judging by his comments to our own Matt Moreno, it seems as if the Wildcats are the favorites to land the No. 21-ranked player in the country. Over the weekend at adidas Nations, the five-star power forward told Rivals.com National recruiting analyst Eric Bossi that he is planning on making his decision within the next week or two, so I foresee Victor to be donning Arizona gear sooner rather than later.

Kameron Chatman For a while there it felt like Arizona had cooled on Chatman, but the live period in Las Vegas told a different story. The Wildcats watched the Oregon-native numerous times throughout the week, and Chatman did well for himself by playing very well. Some believe that the four-star wing is a safety net if five-star wing Justise Winslow decides to go elsewhere. I think that's exactly how it plays out. At the end of the day, Arizona will be in an arms' race with Oregon, Michigan, USC and Connecticut for the No. 30-ranked player in the country, and they'll win that race.

Who Arizona misses on:

Justise Winslow: Winslow is another guy who is tough to crack with questions. Already a polished kid in handling media attention, Winslow, like Johnson, is taking a steady approach to his recruitment. There's no question he likes Arizona and everything that it has to offer, but there will be a school that has just a little more. That school is Duke. The Blue Devils will hold two huge pieces that Winslow won't be able to turn down: 1. Fellow 2014 recruit, and good friend Jahlil Okafor, and 2. Mike Krzyzewski and his ties to Team USA - a place where Winslow made a huge splash this summer. Tyus Jones at the helm of the offense won't hurt either. But, there was an interesting tweet sent out by Johnson Tuesday afternoon that was a picture of him and Winslow with the caption: "college roommate." Johnson always knows how to media's gears turning.

Myles Turner: It's a hunch, but I think the 6-foot-11 center out of Euless, Texas is destined for Kansas. Turner is another tough kid to read when it comes to recruiting as he was tight-lipped on the subject for much of the summer, but I definitely think he will consider UA. The way Miller is using Tarczewski as a traditional post will keep them in the hunt for the No. 6-ranked player, but when it comes decision time, I think Bill Self comes away with Turner.

Rashad Vaughn: I think there's a lot of hope for UA when it comes to Vaughn, but it looks to be false. His transfer to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada (where current Wildcats Nick Johnson and Brandon Ashley went) breathes even more optimism into Tucson, but Vaughn is one of those players who screams Kentucky in my opinion. The seventh-ranked player in 2014 is a likely one-and-done candidate, and there's no better place to make that happen than Lexington.

The Wildcard:

Cliff Alexander - It might be a major long shot for Arizona to coup Alexander, but you can never sleep on Sean Miller's ability to recruit. The five-star power forward has interest from just about every school in the country, but has already started to narrow down where his official visits will be, and Alexander is planning on taking one official to Tucson.

Matt MorenoMatt Moreno's Predictions:
GOAZCATS.com Senior Recruiting Editor

Like was mentioned above the Wildcats are already off to a good start in the 2014 class with an early commitment from Jackson-Cartwright. The Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola standout has turned into somewhat of another recruiter for his future program as he's been talking to plenty of other targets about joining him in Tucson.

I'll start with a couple recruits Jackson-Cartwright has talked with about joining him.

Craig Victor: The five-star recruit plans to make his decision soon, and the Wildcats are in a very good spot as his college choice draws near. Victor recently trimmed his list to four finalists that includes UA, LSU, Kansas, and Oklahoma State.

At this stage the consensus is that it is seemingly a two-horse race between the Wildcats and his home state school LSU. Miller and his staff made the talented forward a priority in July, and to me the work that UA has put in along with the fit are the difference makers in this recruitment.

Stanley Johnson: Now this recruitment has really become interesting as of late, but Miller and his staff have been involved with the five-star recruit for quite some time now. Johnson has really continued to raise his level of play as his career has gone on, and that will likely result in him ending up as a top-five prospect in the Rivals.com rankings.

Naturally when a prospect does that more schools make him a priority, and that is what has happened with the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei star. Kentucky is just one of the many schools that has done that with Johnson, and John Calipari's program continues to make a big push heading into the rest of the summer.

While UK getting involved in any recruitment is usually a cause for concern for fans of any other program, we believe this will be a case similar to the last recruiting cycle and Gordon's recruitment.

It's not easy to go head-to-head with Calipari, but Miller has done it before. I feel that will be the case once again in Johnson's recruitment, and in my opinion the result will be the same.

In the end Johnson's ties to the West Coast along with what could be a very good fit on the wing are going to be the focal point of what ends up being a big commitment for Miller's Wildcats.

Justise Winslow: Now Johnson's decision might not come any time soon, but one recruit who has really focused in on making a decision for the early signing period is the five-star wing from Houston. Winslow is another recruit Arizona put the pressure on over the spring and summer by making sure it was visible at many of his team's games during the evaluation periods.

Like with Johnson, UK has jumped into Winslow's recruitment as of late but the real threat could be another big-time coach's program. Duke has been a player in the five-star prospect's recruitment for quite some time, and at this point it really could be the Wildcats' biggest competition.

However, Winslow has visited Tucson plenty of times and it's a situation he's very familiar with. As with Johnson, I believe the amount of time Arizona has spent prioritizing Winslow as a prospect pays off in the end for Miller and his staff.

Arizona has put a lot of effort into recruiting some of the top talent as of late, and 2014 - in my opinion - will just continue to build on that. Should things go as I believe they will the Wildcats could put together another very good class that includes three current five-star recruits.

Who Arizona misses on:

Not that you know who I believe the Wildcats will land, here's a look at some of the prospects I think Miller's program won't be able to pull in during the 2014 cycle.

Jahlil Okafor: Any time you recruit the No. 1 prospect in the country there is going to be some stiff competition. The Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young standout does have the Wildcats among his current list of favorites and he has been on an unofficial visit to Tucson in the past. However, there are a lot of other programs who have made Okafor a priority as well.

There has been plenty of talk that Okafor and five-star point guard Tyus Jones (played together with USA Basketball) are somewhat of a package deal when it comes to college. While there has also been talk of Winslow joining both recruits as well in college, I don't feel that will be the case.

I do, however, believe that Okafor and Jones end up in Durham with Krzyzewski at Duke. The Blue Devils have made both pretty big priorities in the class and I believe that pays off for Duke.

Cliff Alexander: Another big-time Chicagoan who Arizona has targeted in the class is the five-star power forward from Currie High School. Alexander, who currently sits at No. 4 overall in the Rivals.com rankings, is a little further along than Okafor in that he has already decided to use one of his official visits on a trip to Tucson.

That certainly bodes well for the Wildcats, but a Big-12 program has really seemed to pick up steam in his recruitment. At this point Kansas is a program that has emerged in Alexander's recruitment, and while it is still a little early in the process I believe that is where he will eventually end up.

With Victor likely off the board at the point when Alexander potentially decides it would seem that Arizona would have already landed its targets at the position.

Trey Kell: One of the newer offers Arizona extended late in the July evaluation period went to the current three-star shooting guard. Kell had a very good month during July and he picked a few offers with his play. The San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine standout recently trimmed his list to eight schools and the Wildcats were among that group.

UA certainly could use a proven shooter in the upcoming class, and there is a scenario I could imagine that would have Kell ending up in Tucson. However, as things stand now his other recent offer from UCLA could be a big one as well.

Even though San Diego State has been involved with Kell for a long time, I think the idea of playing the Pac-12 while still staying relatively close to home will tip the scale in favor of the Bruins.

The Wildcard:

Trevon Bluiett: The Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor standout can really score, and that's something the Wildcats could use going forward. Bluiett is a recruit who saw his name continue to rise throughout July, and he earned an offer from Arizona when all was said and done in the last evaluation period. Even though the 'Cats are somewhat of a newer offer for the talented wing, he put them on his revised list at the end of last month.

There are some schools that have been established on Bluiett's list longer than UA, but in situations like these it's hard to completely count out the 'Cats. So while it might take some work, there is definitely a scenario that I could envision with Bluiett ending up in Tucson.

Hopefully this article helped to make sense of things when it comes to the scholarship situation and who the Wildcats could potentially land. We'll have a separate look at the 2015 class next week, so be sure to check back for that as well.

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