It's been a bad week for Arizona Basketball but good news is on the way. One of Arizona's top recruits has made a decision and the Wildcats have their third commitment of the 2007 class.
UA head coach Lute Olson is in San Diego, California right now to watch Jamelle Horne work out before heading to La Costa Canyon High School to see 2006 commit Chase Budinger.
Compton Magic AAU coach Etop Udo-Ema, told us this afternoon that there may be some good news following Horne's work out.
"Jamelle really likes Arizona," Udo-Ema said. "He likes it a lot. We're trying to see if we can make something happen over there. (Olson) is supposed to come today to see Jamelle work out and hopefully he'll find out something he wants to hear."
That something would be a commitment from Horne, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the 22nd best player in the class of 2007. 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, Horne is an extremely athletic small forward with a great shot as well.
Sources close to Arizona told us that Horne did in fact commit to the Wildcats after the work out. Udo-Ema confirmed the commitment.
"It's a done deal," he said.
That's great news because Horne is a player with big time potential. The San Diego High School product has a good relationship with Olson and a couple future Wildcats which helps make this decision easier.
"He's developed a pretty good rapport with Jerryd (Bayless), Udo-Ema said. "He's got the Lousiville's, the Wake Forests and everyone else on him, but at Arizona, at least he knows who he's going to war with. He knows Jerryd, he knows Chase (Budinger). It's not a thing where he won't get along with the guys. I think that is a big security."
In most of Arizona's recent commitments, you've heard that the UA coaching staff has just outworked the competition. It's been no different in this one, as Olson has made sure that it's known to Horne that he's a player that the UA program would love to have.
"In Jamelle's mind, I think Arizona has been in there the longest and they've been in there the hardest," said Udo-Ema. "Lute has worked his butt off on this one – he's just worked harder than anyone. That says a lot to me.
"I've never sent a kid to Arizona before. I've had a hundred high-major kids and I've never sent any to Arizona. My point is that when a head coach has been on a kid that hard, it means they really want him. They've showed me where they stand and to me, that's everything.
"Normally, I wouldn't push a kid to commit before his junior spring unless it's something like this. And I'm not saying I'm pushing him, but I'm certainly not standing in the way either."
Another factor in this decision is how many two-guards and wings Arizona has sent to the NBA. Most recently, Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson and Andre Iguodala have made big names for themselves at the next level.
That was a big reason why Budinger committed to Arizona and Horne feels that Olson can help him get to the next stage.
"I think it's a great fit with all the wings that have been there," Udo-Ema said. "They've been very successful at the next level and that's what he wants. It's a no-brainer with how successful the wings at Arizona have been over the last few years.
"It's pretty simple to me. You go there, you play and then you go to the NBA and get paid. If you want to play professionally and make money and you got this coach who has put a lot of guys who have made a lot of money in the NBA, I don't know how you can say no to Arizona.
"I mean Lute is canceling his practice to go to Jamelle's practice. I don't know how you can say no to that."
Watching and speaking with Horne over the last year, the one thing that's stood out to us is the fact that not only is he a terrific player, but he's also a great kid too. He's humble and always working on his game to try and get better.
With that said, he doesn't need a whole lot of work to be a superstar.
"Jamelle's upside is unbelievable,' Udo-Ema said. "He's a guy that can really shoot it. He's super athletic and if he continues to work on his game, he could do whatever he wants to. It's all up to him.
"He's 6-foot-8, long, jumps out of the gym and can already shoot it. He needs to work on his handle a little bit and if he does that, he can make a lot of money someday."
We asked Udo-Ema to expand on Horne's strengths and he raved about the kid's athletic ability.
"His strength is his athleticism," Udo-Ema said. "He's super athletic – long and athletic. He's also just a real good jump shooter. When he tries to create he gets in a little trouble but if you spot him up, he can hit all day. At 6-8, he can jump out of the gym. He just needs to develop a little bit.
"You know what Arenas and Jefferson did at Arizona, well Jerryd and Jamelle will do the same thing."
After a long weekend, that's all Arizona fans need to hear.
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