Arizona, a team we currently have tabbed as the No. 9 in the nation, is losing a major piece for next season. It's a player named Terrance Ferguson, a five-star prospect and projected future lottery pick. He's never even played for Arizona.
And now, never will.
Wildcats coach Sean Miller sent out the following statement on Thursday morning: "Terrance Ferguson informed me earlier this week that he has decided to pursue professional opportunities instead of attending the University of Arizona this fall. I hope this next chapter of his basketball career goes well, and his goal of one day becoming an NBA player is realized."
The problem with Ferguson is eligibility. He committed to Arizona in April (after previously committing to Alabama), but getting him cleared turned out to be too high a hurdle. Ferguson attended Prime Prep, the Deion Sanders-run school in Texas. It's the same place Emmanuel Mudiay attended. Mudiay was never cleared academically to play at SMU, so he opted for a one-year overseas career before being selected in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Ferguson now figures to follow that path. Scout.com is among the outlets reporting that Ferguson will head to Australia to play pro. Some basketball scouts see him as top 10-worthy come the 2017 draft. He's a really good shooter, can play both ends of the floor well, has NBA-level athletic ability and owns a good reputation overall.
Prime Prep and its affiliate school, API, where Ferguson attended, have proven to be less-than-ideal for basketball recruits moving on to college. The coursework there is creating difficulty for players looking to get cleared at the NCAA level.
It's a loss for college hoops and Arizona, but at least Miller has a really good class coming in already. Five-star point guard Kobi Simmons is in the fold, as are fellow five-star recruits Lauri Markkanen (power forward) and Rawle Atkins (shooting guard). The Wildcats will be near or at the top of the Pac-12 once again. Without Ferguson though, it's reasonable and practical to put 'Zona outside the preseason top 10.