NCB On The Trail: Arizona Wildcats

ESPN 60 junior T.J Leaf made his college decision today, announcing he will be an Arizona Wildcat. Leaf, ranked No. 15 overall in the 2016 class, made unofficial visits to Michigan, UCLA, Arizona, Florida and San Diego State. The other school on his list was Duke but he did not visit there.

Arizona has been the school of choice for the West Coast's elite prospects since Sean Miller's arrival and today Leaf gave the Wildcats a head start in the class of 2016. Here's what he will bring to Tucson:

Arizona's No. 2-ranked class officially signs

November, 13, 2014
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Arizona head coach Sean Miller announced the signing of his 2015 recruiting class on Thursday.

The Wildcats' class features four ESPN 100 prospects, including three top-30 players. Joining Miller in Tucson next season will be ESPN 100 shooting guard Allonzo Trier (No. 17 overall), ESPN 100 small forward Ray Smith (No. 24), ESPN 100 point guard Justin Simon (No. 27) and ESPN 100 center Chance Comanche (No. 97).

"This is an important class for us, as we're bracing for and expect a number of underclassmen on this year's team to pursue professional careers," Miller told the school's website. "With the combination of seniors and underclassmen we will lose after this season, this class is significant in many ways. Two qualities we love about this class are that each member is a high-character individual and the fact that their qualities on the court complement each other very well."

Miller's Wildcats held the top spot in ESPN.com's Class Rankings until being unseated by Kentucky on Thursday.
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Five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier has ended his recruitment by committing to the Arizona Wildcats while on his official visit. Trier gives Arizona head coach Sean Miller his third ESPN 100 five-star commitment in the 2015 class, along with point guard Justin Simon and small forward Ray Smith.

Here's how the No. 19-ranked senior will fit in Tucson:


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Arizona head coach Sean Miller landed his second ESPN 100 recruit from the Class of 2015 on Sunday. See how Ray Smith fits in to the Wildcats' future plans:


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Five burning questions: Arizona 

June, 20, 2014
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At this time last week, Arizona had two early verbal commitments in the Class of 2015 and two graduating seniors whose scholarships would need to be filled.

The Wildcats' work seemed to be done early. Except it wasn’t. Not even close.

Last weekend, ESPN 100 guard Tyler Dorsey decommitted from the Wildcats in a move that many had come to expect.

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After a long and detailed conversation about the nation’s best prospects, Ivan Rabb holds on to his No. 1 spot as we launch the new ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015.

Why he is No. 1: Many factors go into being tabbed the nation’s top prospect such as strong performance, consistent production and potential. At 6-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Rabb has all the physical markers to impact a game. Rabb has mobility and an enormous wing span (7-4). He utilizes those features along with speed and lateral quickness to protect the basket, outrun opponents and score the ball. It’s his efficiency that is impressive, as the majority of shots come inside the paint. After 16 games in the Elite Youth Basketball League, he had made more than 60 percent of his field-goal attempts, per GameChanger stats service.


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Five 2015 classes off to fast starts 

June, 3, 2014
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As we turn our attention to the Class of 2015 and the newly released ESPN 100, here’s a look at five college basketball programs that have a head start on the 2015 recruiting trail:


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Minneapolis Nike EYBL recap 

May, 25, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The fourth session of the Nike EYBL gave teams one more opportunity to add league wins and earn the right to participate in the Peach Jam that will crown a champion in July.

Check out some of the many terrific prospect performances we witnessed this weekend at the EYBL:


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ESPN 60 guard Allonzo Trier made Nike EYBL history last weekend, becoming the first player to ever record 30 or more points in each game of a single session.

While the feat has never been accomplished before on the Nike circuit, ironically, Adidas had someone accomplish the very same thing on the same weekend when fellow ESPN 60 guard Jalen Adams finished with 30 or more points in all four of his games.

While Trier and Adams are similar in that they are two of the nation's best scoring guards in the 2015 class, they’re unique in the way they look to attack the defense.


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Justin Simon, an ESPN 60 prospect, chose the Arizona Wildcats on Tuesday over the likes of Kansas, Louisville and UCLA, among others.


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With Myles Turner's commitment to Texas serving as an unofficial close to the 2014 recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the 2015 crop.

Here are 10 questions that the recruiting world will seek to answer in the next year:

1. Will it be one and done?


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The Jordan Brand Classic featured much of the nation’s top talent.

Obviously, a number of players operate at the same position. That said, each brings a different aspect at the spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and break down how they are different and impactful.


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Jordan Brand Classic standouts 

April, 20, 2014
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The Jordan Brand Classic was played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday.

This game is always filled with future NBA talent and usually has the No. 1 pick in a future NBA draft.

Twenty-two of the country's elite players went head to head for likely the last time before they meet again in college. There were so many impressive plays and highlights, so let's take a look at what we learned from the event.


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video Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.
I don't believe Jabari Parker's decision on whether to turn pro has any bearing at all on the college decision of ESPN 100 No. 2 overall prospect Myles Turner.

Turner wanted to finish taking his visits and then try to figure out what his best option would be. He is done with visits; now it’s time for him to weigh all the pros and the cons. He is looking for a situation where he has a strong relationship with the head coach and the overall chemistry of the team. Furthermore, he wants a coach who has proven track record developing his players over the course of a year or over time, and preparing them for the next level will be important.

Whether Parker stays at Duke or declares for the NBA draft won't affect Turner's decision. His list of schools is still the same: Arizona, Duke, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Texas, SMU and Texas A&M. Look for him to make his decision sometime after the Jordan Brand Classic game, which is at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2.

Scouting the country each year I’ll not only see players’ skills, athletic ability and basketball IQ, but I’ll also witness their character along the way. This year’s class might not have any NBA superstars at the moment, but it will have difference-makers for the college game, both in the short term as well as those who will make a difference in time because of their character traits combined with their talent.

As we wrap up the Class of 2014, here are my five final thoughts:

1. The land of the giants

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
AP Photo/The Sun News/Charles SlateDuke center signee Jahlil Okafor finishes the season as the nation's top prospect.
When you look at the top of a class it's so rare to have three post players sitting in the top three spots. Jahlil Okafor, who held the top spot for much of the season, finishes the season as the nation’s top prospect. The center from Chicago is a dominating presence in the paint. A Duke signee, Okafor led his high school team to a 4A state championship and was named the McDonalds Morgan Wooten player of the year.

He is special because he scores down low in the paint with his back to the basket. His combination of size, touch and fluid footwork is too much for one defender and when he doesn’t score, he attracts a double-team, which gives his team an advantage. He operates with patience and poise and when he reads the double-team he will accurately pass out to the open man. Defensively he guards the post and is improving at ball-screen defense as he is a barrier to the rim for his team.

Myles Turner, the nation’s No. 2 prospect, challenged hard for the No. 1 position and shows a big upside. Turner, who is uncommitted, is an elite shot-blocker and scores baskets with a soft touch and range. Cliff Alexander is going to be an absolute difference-maker for Kansas with his ability to rebound, finish and block shots, and he does it in an aggressive manner. Trey Lyles is one of the most skilled post players in this group and his future teammate at Kentucky Karl Towns Jr. has franchise skill-to-size ratio. Thomas Welsh is a fundamentally sound big who will anchor the middle at UCLA.


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