Rebuilding Arizona on the recruiting trail
January, 24, 2014
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziSean Miller's recruiting prowess has been the driving force behind Arizona's surge to the top.Initially, Sean Miller turned down the job. However, a few hours later, the then-Xavier coach decided to head west to Tucson -- an area of the country he had minimal familiarity with -- in an attempt to rebuild a once-proud and storied program.
Fast-forward to nearly four years later and Miller has Arizona basketball back. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the nation, and he's done it with hard work, success on the recruiting trail and a little luck.
We’ll start with the luck. Miller was fortunate that Tim Floyd and USC severed ties, leaving one-time Trojans signee Derrick Williams back on the open market. Williams opted to go to Arizona and carried the Wildcats on his back to a 30-win season and a surprising Elite Eight appearance in 2011 -- Miller’s second season.
Miller inherited a mess when he arrived. The architect of the program, Lute Olson, had experienced health issues and ultimately was forced to prematurely step down. But there was the Kevin O’Neill saga, in which Olson’s former assistant was the interim coach and thought he’d be the successor, but his mouth got him in trouble and he was forced out.