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November 29, 2011
There is a ton of excitement in Tucson over the anticipated revival of Arizona basketball. Much of that can be attributed to the success of head coach Sean Miller on the recruiting trail.
After hitting on diamonds in the rough such as Derrick Williams earlier in his tenure at Arizona, Miller now competes with college basketball's elite recruiters for the nation's top players. This year, Miller competed so well that he didn't just land the top recruiting class in the Pac-12, he landed the top recruiting class in the country.
Best recruiting battles
The single biggest recruiting battle won was Arizona landing Kaleb Tarczewski. While Tarczewski's runner-up school, Kansas, wasn't a Pac-12 program, the victory was a huge one. After leaning heavily to the Jayhawks early in his recruitment, the five-star big man let the Wildcats in late and in the span of about six months they went from pretty much not being involved to landing the highly regarded center.
In terms of strictly in-conference recruiting battles, the best battle was probably between Mike Montgomery of California and Tad Boyle of Colorado. The two head coaches and their assistants battled fiercely over the services of four-star combo guard Tyrone Wallace. After appearing to lean to Cal early in his recruitment, the Californian seemed to be favoring the Buffs after an official visit. But Montgomery and his staff rallied and closed on the versatile perimeter player.
Another major in-conference battle was that of Washington and Washington State over Michigan native DeMarquise Johnson. Finishing his high school in Arizona, the four-star wing selected the Cougars over the Huskies and Gonzaga after it had looked early on as if Lorenzo Romar's squad would acquire the services of the athletic wing.
Washington's empty class
Losing out on DeMarquise Johnson to Washington State wasn't just tough on Washington because Johnson is a good player. In fact, the Huskies should still be fine on the wing next year with Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox. But, for a squad that has recruited as well as it has the past few years under Romar, it's a big surprise to see the Huskies exit the early signing period without inking a single recruit.
Three-star depth and one impact JUCO
As long as things play out, the Pac-12 should see a large number of unranked players end up making big contributions for their programs. While they weren't ranked, Kenny Martin (Arizona State), Christian Sanders (Stanford), Maika Ostling (Oregon State), Richard Longrus (Washington State), Wesley Gordon (Colorado) and Strahinja Gavrilovic (USC) are all capable of playing early and making immediate impacts for their respective programs because of what they will bring to each roster.
Finally, the only junior college player to sign with a Pac-12 school, J.T. Terrell, could end up making as significant an impact as any player entering the conference. The USC signee is a high-level scorer who proved as a freshman at Wake Forest that he was capable of putting up big numbers against high-level competition. If he makes use of his year of junior college and arrives at USC ready to compete and perform with consistency, Terrell could give the Trojans an all-conference scorer on the wing.