The Arizona Wildcats inked what they hope will be the backcourt of the future on Wednesday when four-star guards Shane Nowell, K.J. Simpson and Shane Dezonie signed their National Letters of Intent.
The trio ranks as the No. 15 2021 class in the country and third-best in the Pac-12 behind Oregon and USC.
A 6-foot-5 swingman, Nowell is top-ranked player in the group. 247Sports composite rankings peg him as the No. 83 player in the 2021 class and No. 4 player from the state of Washington.
Nowell committed to Arizona on Halloween. Jason Terry was his primary recruiter. He attends Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Washington. His older brother Jaylen starred at Washington for two seasons and now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He described his strengths as “the ability to create for myself and teammates, finishing around the rim, my pull-up, getting downhill in transition and being a player with a high IQ. Also, a great defender that will pick up full court and guard 1-4.”
A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Dezonie is ranked one spot below Nowell, checking in at No. 84 overall. He committed six days earlier than Nowell. Dezonie attends Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and used to attend Hudson Catholic in New Jersey.
He told Phenom Hoop Report that “my game is a strong guard that defend 1-4, who can distribute the ball, and can score in different ways.”
Simpson was Arizona’s first 2021 commit, pledging to the Wildcats back on Aug. 15. A 6-foot-2 combo guard, Simpson ranks just outside the Top-100. He attends Chaminade College Prep in West Hills, California.
His 247Sports scouting report reads as follows: “Simpson is an athletic combo guard with okay size but good length and athleticism. Plus athlete both laterally and vertically. Competitive kid who plays hard on both ends. Has vision to play on ball at next level but will need to improve against ball pressure. Athleticism makes him tough cover in transition. Versatile defender who can guard both one and two at next level. Projects as high major starter. If handle and jumper improve he will take his stock to next level.”
It’s hard to know how many recruits Arizona will sign in this cycle when it’s all said and done. They have two seniors but they are allowed to return next season after the NCAA gave all winter athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wildcats don’t have any surefire one-and-dones this year, but departures are never surprising these days. A one-time transfer rule is probably going to go into affect in January, too, making player movement all the more likely.
It’s also unclear what the scholarship limits will for the 2021-22 season. The NCAA increased them in other sports due to the pandemic and will likely have to do the same for basketball to account for the seniors who plan to return for another season. Then again, Arizona could be facing a scholarship reduction as a result of the Notice of Allegations they received in October.