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Insider

KU loses out big time on Kaleb Tarczewski

10/31/2011

Sean Miller already had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country before receiving a commitment from center Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark’s). Miller’s found a trick to recruiting out west and Arizona fans are being treated to elite-level players coming to Tucson en masse.

While college basketball basks in the four-man super class -- which includes three top-10 overall players -- comprised of a trio of elite big men, the real story centers around Kansas. Bill Self’s Jayhawks went all in on Tarczewski. Following the player’s sophomore year, Kansas made a decision to treat him like he was the next Cole Aldrich. Tarczewski, as was the case with Aldrich, turned into a must-sign player.

Kansas treated Tarczewski like he was the centerpiece of its recruiting efforts. The big man visited KU four times unofficially and had one official visit. Playing time was there for the taking and there’s little doubt Tarczewski would have received all the minutes he could handle as a freshman. Still, the Wildcats won a prolonged recruiting battle with Kansas. Self’s commitment to letting Tarczewski know he was the No. 1 guy included opting to gingerly recruit Willie Cauley (Spearville, Kan./Olathe NW), a local player who picked Kentucky and was more of a Kansas State target than he was KU. Kansas also danced with three Texas big men and never seemed to make much headway with guys like Texas commit Cameron Ridley (Fort Bend, Texas/Bush) and Maryland commit Shaquille Cleare (Houston/The Village); two kids KU would typically find attractive on the trail.

There’s no question Kansas made a significant time investment with Tarczewski. His pledge to Arizona will be a tough pill to swallow for a prideful program. Taking this a step further, Arizona is becoming a problem not only for Pac-12 teams but for the Jayhawks.

During Roy Williams' tenure in Lawrence, the coach loved recruiting West Coast talent. In fact, it wasn’t until Self arrived and landed Russell Robinson that the Jayhawks spent much time east of the Mississippi. Self changed directions and began investing time into East Coast prospects with great success. This year, however, Arizona threw a big wrench into their plans. With the Wildcats spreading their wings on the West Coast, it put a dent into KU’s normally rooted recruiting area. Now Miller went east and nabbed a center that seemed to personify Self’s high-low style.

It’s only one recruit but there’s an argument to be made that Tarczewski was more important to the Jayhawks than he was the Wildcats given the fact that bigs Brandon Ashley (Oakland, Calif./Findlay Prep) and Grant Jerrett (LaVerne, Calif./Lutheran) have already committed to Miller.