Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:37 am

Miller will have 'Zona in title contention in '12

By Jeff Goodman

My fellow Arizona alums didn't want me anywhere near campus last year. I was the skeptic, the one who had the Wildcats ranked lower than any other AP voter, the one who just never believed in the cast surrounding Derrick Williams.

Now it's time to attempt to get back on the good side of my fellow alums.

Arizona will contend for the national title in 2012.

With the recent news that elite forward Brandon Ashley decided to commit to Arizona over Oregon and Kentucky on Monday, Miller has done the unthinkable.

He's taken Arizona from one of the most unstable programs in the nation just a few years ago back to where it's again a legitimate national power.

Check out this potential core group in 2012:

Point Guard - Josiah Turner, Jordin Mayes
Shooting Guard - Nick Johnson, Gabe York
Small Forward - Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill
Power Forward - Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett 
Center - Angelo Chol, Sidiki Johnson

And if Arizona can somehow beat out Kansas for 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats could be the favorites to win it all in 2012.

Even without Tarczewski, this will be a team capable of cutting down the nets. However, with him, they could be like the Wildcats of the old days, the ones that were loaded with future NBA'ers.

What Miller - who had absolutely no recruiting ties to the west coast - has done in his two years in Tucson has truly been remarkable. Not only is he a proven coach from his days at Xavier, but he showed he can get the most of his talent with the Elite Eight run a year ago.

He's also showcasing he can be an elite recruiter.

Miller's buddy, John Calipari, dug in on Ashley and came up short. Oregon has Nike backing and lost out to Arizona.

I was a skeptic a year ago.

That's no longer the case.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 4:31 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 1, 2011 10:48 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 12:41 pm

Pac-12 Offseason Report

By Jeff Goodman

I graduated from a Pac-12 school, but it's still going to take me a while before I don't keep saying Pac-10. Anyway, here's the Pac-12 Offseason Report. 

Pac-12 Offseason Report

Arizona – Archie Miller left to become the head coach at Dayton and was replaced by Joe Pasternak, who was previously the head coach at New Orleans. The Wildcats will play in the Coaches vs. Cancer and also have non-league games against San Diego State (11-23), at Florida (12-7), at Clemson (12-10) at Gonzaga (12-17 in Seattle). Lamont “Momo” Jones (Iona) and Daniel Berejano (Colorado State) both transferred out of the program.

Arizona State – The Sun Devils will play in the Old Spice Classic in Florida and have non-league games against New Mexico (11-18), at Tulsa (12-3) and against Nevada (12-7). Brandon Dunson (Azusa Pacific) and Corey Hawkins (UC Davis) both transferred out while Sendek & Co. added Eric Gordon’s brother, Evan, from Liberty.

California – The Bears will play in the CBE Classic in Kansas City and also have non-conference dates at San Diego State (12-3) and at UNLV (12-23). Mike Montgomery’s team will also travel to Sweden, Norway and Denmark from Aug. 12-22. Justin Cobbs is eligible this season after sitting out last season following a transfer from Minnesota.

Colorado – Tad Boyle & Co. will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (11-17/20) and also has non-league games set against Georgia (11-28), at Colorado State (11-30) and against Fresno (12-7). Carlon Brown (Utah) is eligible this year after sitting out last season.

Oregon – The Ducks will go to Italy from Aug. 22 through Sept. 2. Dana Altman’s team will also host a four-team event from Dec. 20-22 that includes N.C. Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin and also play Virginia on Dec. 18. Three players left the program: Malcolm Armstead (Wichita State), Martin Seiferth (Eastern Washington) and Teondre Williams (Clayton State) while Olu Ashaolu (Louisiana Tech) came in and will be eligible to play this season and Tony Woods also decided to transfer to Eugene.

Oregon State – The Beavers will play in the Legends Classic and don’t have any big-time non-league games. Eric Moreland is eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from UTEP.

Stanford – Johnny Dawkins and his team will go to Spain from Sept. 3-14. Charles Payne was promoted to an assistant spot and replaces Rodney Tention (San Diego). The Cardinal will play in the Preseason NIT and also have non-league games against N.C. State (12-4) and against Butler (12-23).  

UCLA – Scott Duncan left to join friend Larry Shatt’s staff at Wyoming and was replaced by former Atlanta Celtics summer coach Korey McCray. Ben Howland’s team will play in the Maui Invitational and also has non-conference contests against Texas (12-3), vs. Richmond (12-23) and at St. John’s (2-18). Larry Drew (North Carolina) transferred into the program and will sit out while two more former Tar Heels – David and Travis Wear – are eligible this season.

USC – The Trojans will take a trip to Brazil from Aug. 12-21. Ryan Hannick is out as the director of basketball operations and has been replaced by Jamal Bode, Kevin O’Neill’s former manager at Arizona. O’Neill & Co. will play in the Las Vegas Invitational (11-25/26) and the Trojans will also play at Minnesota (12-3), New Mexico at home (12-10), Georgia at home (12-17) and Kansas at home (12-22) in the non-league slate. Bryce Jones (UNLV) left the program while Ari Stewart (Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine) both transferred in. Aaron Fuller (Iowa) is eligible this season after sitting out last year.

Utah – New coach Larry Krystkowiak put together a staff of Tommy Connor, DeMarlo Slocum, Andy Hill and Norm Parrish (director of basketball operations). The Utes will play in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and also have non-league games at Fresno (12-3), vs. BYU (12-10) and vs. Cal State Fullerton (12-7). Utah has added Glen Dean (Eastern Washington) and Aaron Dotson (LSU) while Will Clyburn (Iowa State) and J.J. O’Brien (San Diego State) left the program.

Washington – The Huskies are hosting an event with Florida Atlantic, Georgia State and Portland and will also play in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 6 against Marquette in NYC. Lorenzo Romar’s team will also play at Saint Louis (11-20), at Nevada (12-2) and against Duke at Madison Square Garden (12-10).

Washington State – Ken Bone’s team will play in the 76 Classic in Anaheim and also against Pepperdine in the Cougar Hardwood Classic on Dec. 22 in Seattle. The Cougars will also face Gonzaga on Nov. 14 on the road. Andre Winston (Portland State) left while Royce Woolridge (Kansas) transferred into the program. Mike Ladd (Fresno) is eligible after sitting out last year.

Offseason reports: Big 12 
Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:14 pm

Former 'Zona player talks Salinas and recruiting

By Matt Norlander

The faucet continues to drip.

Former five-star Arizona guard Jawann McClellan went on the record with the Arizona Republic, telling the newspaper he was "pretty sure" David Salinas was involved with college hoops coaches for more than just financial investments. 

McClellan is tied into this not just because he played basketball in the Houston area, but also because he was recruited by, and played for, Lute Olson at Arizona. Olson was reported to have lost $1.17 million dollars with Salinas, per a Sports Illustrated story that came out Tuesday.

McClellan did not say he was ever swayed -- nor attempted to be -- to play at Arizona by Salinas, though. It's just his feeling, his speculation that, despite Salinas appearing to be a pretty stand-up guy, he wouldn't put it past coaches to use the type of advantages Salinas could offer in an effort to get another prospect or two.

McClellan shocked some back in 2004 when he opted to leave the state and choose to play for the Wildcats out west.

"Coach Olson was probably one of his biggest clients and (committing to UA) caught a lot of people off guard," McClellan said Tuesday by phone from Houston. "A lot of people thought I was going to Texas, but I was confident in my decision."

McClellan said he chose the Wildcats primarily because of Olson and then-Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner, though he also considered Kentucky before committing to UA in the summer of 2002.

We still truly haven't seen a smoking gun -- yet. Maybe we won't. But now we've got a few men on the record who have spoken about the dangerous, less than transparent behavior from Salinas. The Daily's Dan Wolken got a pretty significant quote out of former Houston coach Tom Penders, who basically said he didn't feel comfortable dealing with Salinas due to the man's ties with AAU basketball.

Everyone's standing in the room, shifting their eyes and jingling change in their pockets. Who will talk first? Is there something big out there still in hiding?

When pressed about Salinas' involvement in choosing Arizona, McClellan said this to the Arizona Republic:

McClellan said Salinas was only involved in his decision to attend UA because he was a friend of former UA assistant and former Rice head coach Scott Thompson, who saw McClellan play travel-ball events for Salinas' Houston Select team.

Whether anyone else managed to curry favor with Salinas, McClellan declined to say.

"I'm pretty sure Coach did run one of top two programs in the city, and I'm pretty sure he had players loaded up so you'd think coaches tried to get a relationship with him," McClellan said. "But whether Salinas went for that is neither here nor there."

Plenty of reporters are now on the hunt for former coaches and players who dealt with Salinas. The leaky plumbing probably isn't going to be patched up any time soon. On the heels of our initial report Sunday night, we've now seen three straight days of new, informative reporting on the subject. This slow-boil of a story could take weeks before we can see the breadth of its reach and those who were or were not in the wrong.

Photo: AP

Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 4:48 pm

Arizona's Jordin Mayes on mend after surgery

By Jeff Goodman

Arizona point guard Jordin Mayes had surgery on his foot, but Wildcats coach Sean Miller expects him to be at full-strength for the start of practice.

The 6-foot-2 Mayes, who averaged 4.9 points as a freshman last season, first experienced pain in his foot in the NCAA tournament.

An X-Ray disclosed he had a stress fracture in his foot and he was shut down after the season with his foot in a protective boot.

Then, according to Miller, he experienced pain in the summer league game and had surgery a couple weeks ago.

"The good news is he did it in the summer," Miller said. "He’s 2 1/2-weeks into it and should be fine for when we really need him, but we’re being cautious and taking it slow."

Mayes, with the departure of Lamont Jones to Iona, will likely back-up talented freshman Josiah Turner at the point guard spot this season.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:09 pm

Scorer Gabe York pops for Arizona

By Jeff Borzello

The main question regarding Gabe York revolves around his position. Is he a point guard or a shooting guard?

While the jury is still out, we now have an answer for where York will be lighting up the scoreboard in college: Arizona.

“I felt in my heart that it was the right choice,” York told CBSSports.com Sunday evening. “It just felt better than all the rest. That was the biggest thing.”

York, a 6-foot-1 scorer from Orange Lutheran (Calif.), chose the Wildcats over Washington, Marquette and Notre Dame.

While some players might be afraid to enter a program that will bring in two top-25 guards a year before his arrival, York does not plan to relinquish anything to incoming freshmen Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson.

“I know I work harder than anyone there,” he said. “So I’m very confident in what I can do there.”

York is one of the best 3-point shooters in his class, possessing deep range and a quick trigger on his jumper. He has great lift and also knows how to finish effectively at the rim. Once he improves his ability to facilitate for others, York will be a very difficult point guard to contain.

The reputation of Arizona as “Point Guard U” could live on through York.

“That had a little bit to do with it,” he said.

With his decision out of the way, York can now play out the rest of the summer with the Compton Magic, not needing to think about a future destination.

“It feels great,” he said. “A huge weight lifted off of me.”

Photo: MaxPreps.com

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 3:09 pm

Brandon Ashley stakes claim to top-five ranking


By Jeff Borzello

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – When discussing the top players in the class of 2012, Brandon Ashley is not always mentioned in the case for number one.

Ashley takes offense to that.

“I definitely feel like I belong in the top five,” he said. “I know I’m just as good or better. My skill level is not an issue. I just have to play harder, play more consistently.”

The 6-foot-9 forward from Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.) certainly made his case at the NBPA Top 100 camp last week. Ashley showed off his all-around skill set, scoring with his back to the basket and knocking down face-up jumpers. He runs the floor better than most big men, and also handles the ball and passes well for someone his size.

Ashley’s potential is through the roof, and when he brings maximum effort, he is tough to contain.

“I’m trying to become an all-around better player, an inside-outside player,” he said.

Ashley has plenty of suitors at this point, but said he is ready to cut down his list in the near future. For now, though, it seems a number of colleges have a shot at him.

“I’m wide-open, but a lot of the same schools [are involved],” Ashley said. “The Pac-10, the SEC, Kansas, schools like that. Everyone is coming at me the hardest.”

In addition to the entire Pac-10 and Kansas, Wake Forest, Texas, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Connecticut and others are also recruiting him.

One school mentioned in association with Ashley in the past has been Kentucky, but he said the Wildcats’ pursuit has tailed off.

“They’ve sent me a few emails, but that’s it,” he said.

When Ashley does make a final decision – which doesn’t look like any time soon – he is looking for a school that already has established talent on the roster

 “I want to go to a place where I’m surrounded by good players, with a good coaching staff,” Ashley said.

Photo: Media 411

Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:30 pm

Ricardo Ledo aims for consistency


By Jeff Borzello

BRONX, N.Y. -- When Ricardo Ledo is on top of his game, there's not a better scorer in the country.

However, it's his inconsistency that has prevented him from breaking into the top-five players in 2012. That was clearly on display this weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx, when Ledo lit up the scoreboard on Friday night – only to turn around and struggle immensely Saturday morning. He was scoreless for most of the early game, with his only points coming on a few late 3-pointers.

"I played a lot better yesterday," Ledo said. "I took too many 3s today."

Despite his up-and-down play at times, Ledo still ranks near the top of his class. With his combination of size and skill, he's essentially unguardable.

Ledo is confident about his standing nationally.

"I think I'm the best guard in the country," he said. "I can do so many things."

At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) product has the ability to see over most opposing guards. He can handle the ball well, has a very good mid-range game and can also shoot from deep. Ledo can post up smaller guards and demonstrates great body control when knocking in tough shots. He has a great first step and uses his length to finish effectively at the rim.

Ledo, who plays on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite and the Albany City Rocks, admits he has things to work on.

"My all-around game needs to get better," he said, pointing to defense as his major weakness.

As for recruiting, the former Providence commit is taking his time wading through the myriad colleges currently courting him.

Kentucky, Syracuse, Providence and Connecticut are the four currently standing out for Ledo, but Texas, Florida, Arizona and Maryland are also heavily involved.

"I want to go somewhere I can win," he said. "Playing time is also important."

If Ledo develops consistency, though, he will likely find getting playing time won't be much of a problem. 

Photo: Rush the Court 

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