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Ranking Arizona basketball’s recruiting classes under Sean Miller

Washington v Arizona Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats have perennially recruited at an elite level under Sean Miller, landing a top-10 class in nine of his 12 years at the helm, including the 2020 class.

Which classes have been the best? Which ones were the worst? Since it’s too early to gauge the 2020 class, here’s a ranking of Miller’s first 11 classes from best to worst.

(Note that these classes do not include Division I transfers and only take into account the players’ production at Arizona. The players are listed in the order in which they were ranked out of high school.)

2009 (No. 6 class nationally, No. 2 in Pac-12)

  • Solomon Hill
  • Kyryl Natyazhko
  • Lamont Jones
  • Kevin Parrom
  • Derrick Williams

Miller was hired in April 2009, so this class was pieced together at the last minute. Thanks to USC firing Tim Floyd, Hill, Jones and Williams reopened their recruitments and Miller snatched them up. Williams, somehow the lowest-ranked player in this group, was a stud in his two years at Arizona. His All-American season in 2011 propelled the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Hill and Parrom were high quality four-year players. Jones turned in two solid seasons before transferring to Iona to be closer to home. Natyazhko was a top-10 center out of high school but struggled at the collegiate level.

2013 (No. 11 nationally, No. 1 in Pac-12)

  • Aaron Gordon
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • Elliott Pitts

Gordon and RHJ’s Arizona careers were short but ultra productive. Their rebounding and defensive mettle were a big reason the Wildcats made two straight Elite Eights. Pitts was good for a 3-pointer here and there for a couple seasons, then was kicked off the team because of legal issues.

2012 (No. 3 nationally, No. 2 in Pac-12)

  • Kaleb Tarczewski
  • Grant Jerrett
  • Brandon Ashley
  • Gabe York
  • Matt Korcheck

None of these players were stars, but four of them started at one point and were productive for some very accomplished teams. Three of them—Ashley, Tarczewski and York—played three or more years, a rarity these days. Korcheck was an alright bench big for two Elite Eight teams. Had Jerrett not shockingly declared for the NBA Draft after one season, this class could make a case to be No. 1.

2014 (No. 3 nationally, No. 1 Pac-12)

  • Stanley Johnson
  • Craig Victor
  • Parker Jackson-Cartwright
  • Dusan Ristic
  • Kadeem Allen

Johnson was the gem of the class, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in his lone season at Arizona. Ristic and Jackson-Cartwright developed into above average four-year players. Allen, best known for his perimeter defense, was a solid contributor for two seasons after transferring in from Hutchison Community College. Victor transferred to LSU midway through his freshman season and was eventually dismissed from that program for a violating team rules.

2016 (No. 9 nationally, No. 1 in Pac-12)

  • Rawle Alkins
  • Kobi Simmons
  • Lauri Markkanen
  • Keanu Pinder

Markkanen turned out to be the best player in this class, averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in his lone season. Alkins was a quality, sometimes elite, two-way guard when healthy. Pinder was somewhat useful as a defensive specialist. Simmons was a microwave scorer for the first half of his freshman season, then lost minutes and saw his production dip when Allonzo Trier returned from a suspension.

2019 (No. 6 nationally, No. 2 in Pac-12)

  • Nico Mannion
  • Josh Green
  • Zeke Nnaji
  • Christian Koloko

Nnaji, Mannion and Green led Arizona in virtually every major statistical category, so there’s no doubt they were productive in their one and only seasons. The reason this class isn’t ranked higher is because the Wildcats underperformed in the regular season and did not get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus crisis. A strong postseason performance could have boosted this class several spots. That could still happen depending how Koloko develops.

2017 (No. 3 nationally, No. 1 in Pac-12)

  • Deandre Ayton
  • Brandon Randolph
  • Ira Lee
  • Alex Barcello
  • Emmanuel Akot

This class was believed to be Miller’s best ever, but only Ayton panned out at Arizona. He was an All-American and the most talented player to ever wear a UA uniform, so it’s hard to call this group a failure even though the hit rate was low. Randolph was a decent 3-and-D player as a sophomore but left for the G League. Barcello and Akot hardly produced before transferring. Lee has been an energy player off the bench in his first three seasons.

2011 (No. 4 nationally, No. 1 in Pac-12)

  • Josiah Turner
  • Nick Johnson
  • Angelo Chol
  • Sidiki Johnson

Nick Johnson was a great three-year contributor and became an All-American as a junior, helping UA reach the Elite Eight. The rest of this class was a huge disappointment. Turner, a five-star point guard, battled suspensions and transferred after one subpar season. Sidiki Johnson had off-the-court issues and barely played in his lone season. Chol was a decent shot blocker and rebounder off the bench for two seasons before transferring to San Diego State.

2015 (No. 3 nationally, No. 1 in Pac-12)

  • Allonzo Trier
  • Chance Comanche
  • Ray Smith
  • Justin Simon

Trier was an elite scorer for three seasons but that’s about it for this class. Comanche declared for the NBA Draft after being a decent bench big for two seasons. Smith never debuted because of two ACL tears. Simon transferred after one uneventful season, landing at St. John’s where he developed into a well-rounded player. Had Smith been healthy and Simon stayed in town, this class could have been one of Arizona’s best.

2010 (No. 32 nationally, No. 3 in Pac-12)

  • Daniel Bejarano
  • Jordin Mayes
  • Jesse Perry

A junior college transfer, Perry was a solid stretch 4 for two seasons, including one next to Derrick Williams on the 2011 Elite Eight squad. Mayes was a stellar shooter off the bench for the 2011 team but was a non-factor his other three seasons. Bejarano headlined this class but transferred to Colorado State after riding the pine as a freshman.

2018 (No. 22 nationally, No. 6 in Pac-12)

  • Brandon Williams
  • Devonaire Doutrive
  • Omar Thielemans

Arizona originally had commitments from five-star guard Jahvon Quinerly and four-star forward Shareef O’Neal, but the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption destroyed UA’s recruiting efforts. A low four-star recruit, Doutrive was a decent late add and looked to have potential before being dismissed from the team early in his sophomore season. Thielemans, an off-the-radar prospect from Belgium was clearly not a Pac-12 level player and left the program before his freshman season even started. Williams averaged 11.3 points and 3.4 assists as a freshman, but missed his sophomore season due to knee surgery and it’s unclear if he will ever suit up for Arizona again. This class could usurp the 2010 class if Williams returns to playing at a high level.