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5-star forward Paolo Banchero lists Arizona in final 6

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Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Washington are also in the mix

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: AUGUST 10 Nike Academy Showcase Game Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While the Arizona Wildcats still have to figure out what to do with their last available scholarship for the 2020-21 season, one of their top targets for the year after is showing strong interest in joining the program.

Paolo Banchero, a 5-star power forward from Seattle, has included Arizona among his final six schools according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington are the other finalists for the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Banchero, whom 247Sports ranks as the No. 4 player in the 2021 recruiting class.

Arizona is the only finalist that Banchero has yet to visit, mostly because it was the last program that he took into consideration.

“They had recruited me as a freshman when Lorenzo Romar was there and then a little bit this past year as a sophomore but then they kind of stopped,” Banchero told Daniels. “I always loved Arizona growing up. I would say my freshman year before I had my eyes on the blue bloods and stuff, I was really focused as a freshman on like, I remember coach Romar came to a couple of my games and I remember wanting to play really well because Arizona was a school that I really wanted to get to know and get an offer from. That was a school that I focused on early so I always just liked Arizona. When I heard that coach [Sean] Miller wanted to talk and reach out, I didn’t hesitate. They made up a lot of ground quickly. I talk to their coaches almost every day.”

Banchero told Daniels he plans to can an official visit to Tucson in the fall, noting Arizona’s recent trend of top-tier freshmen big men.

“They have had several Pac 12 freshman of the years, several freshman be top five lottery picks, especially bigs or forwards,” Banchero said. “They’re just a great program.”

Here’s what Banchero’s 247Sports scouting report says:

Respectable size for post with decent length, wide shoulders and a very good frame. Strong for his age but has plenty of room to grow into frame. Shouldn’t have issues increasing strength. Best from high post where he can hit jumpers, take bigger defenders off dribble or use his outstanding vision to find cutters. Terrific rebounder. Uses his size and basketball IQ to protect rim. Should be able to play both the four and five at college level. Improving efficiency from perimeter would take game to next level and greatly impact his NBA upside. Projects as a high level performer at high major level. Has first-round upside with continued development.

The Seattle area, once a gold mine for Arizona, is returning to the forefront of late. The Wildcats added Seattle University grad transfer guard Terrell Brown this offseason, and the expected hiring of former UA standout (and Seattle native) Jason Terry to the coaching staff only furthers this effort.