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Arizona basketball: Kaleb Tarczewski didn't expect to be in college for four years, but 'wouldn't change it for the world'

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The former top-5 recruit's career at Arizona was longer than he thought it'd be, but he 'wouldn't change it for the world.'

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Four-year players are rare in the upper echelon of college basketball today, as high-level players are looking to start their professional careers as soon as possible -- and understandably so with the money that's involved and the short playing careers that most players have -- while sometimes disregarding whether or not they're truly ready to play at the next level.

For that reason, top-flight recruits are almost sure to leave after just a year or two of college, assuming they will be highly-coveted in the NBA Draft due to their talent and perceived potential.

That's exactly what Kaleb Tarczewski, a former top-5 recruit in the 2012 recruiting class, thought he was going to do when he first joined the Arizona Wildcats.

"To be honest, I didn't," Tarczewski told CBS Sports when asked if he expected to be there for four years. "I think any top 10 kid that's coming out of high school, they expect to be one-and-done, playing in the NBA. That's everyone's dream. Obviously, being there four years, it's not the plan."

Tarczewski's limited offensive game and average physical tools prevented his draft stock from ever taking off, so he remained at Arizona for all four years, and he is more than happy with how it all played out.

"I developed as fast as I could," Tarczewski told CBS Sports. "I think that's the way to say it. Obviously, it wasn't my choice to be a top-10 recruit coming out. Thank God it happened, because I got recruited by some of the best colleges in the country. And obviously I went to Arizona, and we won a whole heck of a lot of games when I was there. So it was a good thing in that aspect. But some people's journeys are longer or shorter, it just depends on them."

And because Tarczewski stayed for four seasons and was a part of some of the program's best teams, he now leaves Arizona with a noteworthy legacy. The program's re-emergence as one of the nation's best is directly correlated to Tarczewski's time with the program, and that's not a coincidence.

The center had four solid seasons with the Wildcats, became the program's all-time winningest player, was the first Arizona basketball player to graduate from the Eller College of Management, and anchored the team's defense during his time in Tucson.

And, perhaps most importantly, Tarczewski believes his college career has set him up for a successful future.

"I look back at my college career at Arizona, and I'm so happy because I not only grew on the court but off the court as well," he said. "It was such a good four years, and I wouldn't change it for the world. It might not be a typical process, but it's what I needed and that's all that matters."

"In my time at Arizona, I came to be comfortable with who I was as a basketball player. I understood my role not only in college, but what my role will likely be in the NBA, too, or whatever professional league I'll be in."