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Recruiting expert says Arizona is least likely to land Paolo Banchero

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

The Arizona Wildcats were a late addition to Paolo Banchero’s list of finalists, and they still have a lot of work to land him, opines Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, who believes UA is the least likely destination for the five-star forward.

Evans sees Kentucky as the frontrunner with Duke, Tennessee, Washington, Gonzaga and Arizona lagging behind, in that order.

“Arizona has a whole lot of ground to make up with Banchero, but no one has made greater traction with him this offseason than the Wildcats,” Evans wrote. “They had not offered before the quarantine, but they still found a way to make his final six, overtaking a number of other programs that had invested years into his recruitment and a few others that Banchero had already officially visited. Sean Miller’s recent hiring of Jason Terry has helped the Wildcats’ pursuit, and Banchero has said that he would like to take an official visit to Arizona before committing. Miller and his staff have a lot more work to do if they want to have a chance, but they have gained some momentum in the race for his services.”

The Pacific Northwest has been one of Arizona’s recruiting hotspots since Terry was hired, recently offering 2022 point guard Koren Johnson out of Seattle’s Garfield High School.

The Wildcats are also after 2021 point guard Nolan Hickman (Sammamish, Wash.) and five-star center Nathan Bittle (Central Point, Ore.). Banchero is the highest-ranked of them all, checking in at No. 4 overall in the 2021 class.

Arizona virtually visited him in May after offering him April 28, a day before he included the Wildcats among his finalists.

“Respectable size for post with decent length, wide shoulders and a very good frame,” 247Sports’ Josh Gershon wrote of Banchero. “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.”