The Arizona Wildcats officially inked four of the nation’s top recruits for their 2017 recruiting earlier in the month, and head coach Sean Miller held a press conference Thursday where he publicly commented on the signees for the first time.
Here’s what he to say about the four players in the nation’s No.2 recruiting class:
Miller on DeAndre Ayton: “I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, he’s one of these once in a generation types of players.”
“He is big, 7-foot, and the fact that he hasn’t lifted weights is astonishing to me. When you look at him and shake his hand he has a physical presence as a young person that you don’t often times see. One thing I’m really excited about is to get him with us and plug him into our strength and conditioning program...and I think his body will change in a big, big way. Like Lauri Markkanen, if you watch Lauri just as he’s changing, just physically, he’s the furthest thing from thin. And DeAndre has even a higher starting point. He’s about 250 (pounds) right now, where Lauri would be maybe 230.
“The thing that is striking about DeAndre as a player is he is really smart. He has the know-how of how to play with four other players that not a lot of big guys don’t have. He can pass, he can step away from the basket, he can dribble the ball, he’s a skilled player. With 7-footers, with sometimes they play the game because they’re tall, but he loves the game. He’s obsessed with being a great player. Because of that, his future is obviously incredibly bright. We’re all looking forward to providing him an environment where he can grow, but also where he can give us and our team and the recruiting class that special player that can go inside and out.
“And I think the last part about DeAndre as a player is he’s got a nasty streak to him. He’s competitive, he wants to win, he fights in a good way, he battles. Whoever the experts are that have him potentially as the number one player in his class, that’s how we look at him. That’s how I look at him. So it’s obviously a great day to be able to have somebody of that talent coming into our program, but he is truly part of a recruiting class — the three other guys that make up our class will complement him extremely well and vice versa. You can’t do it alone. You need help and I think that group of four is a very, very exciting group for us to have.”
on potential eligibility issues or Ayton going pro: “He is going to go to college.”
Miller on Brandon Randolph: “We identified Brandon in his junior year. Brandon a year ago or two years ago wasn’t nearly as well thought of as he is today, he’s improved and come on the scene in a big, big way over the last two years. When we’ve learned of our own recruiting efforts, those who are on that fast track they seem to continue on that fast track. There’s a reason that all of a sudden they seem to go from nowhere to being one of the best players in high school basketball.
Brandon, like Alex (Barcello), is an exceptional shooter. Not a small 2-guard, more 6-5, 6-6, than he is 6-3 or 6-4. When you have that type of frame, strength and conditioning can really continue to give you additional skills that you may not have right now. He’s got a great frame. He’s a thin guy, but where his body will go over the next couple of years it’s very exciting to think about. He’s more than just a shooter, he’s a basketball player. He knows how to play, passes the ball, plays on one of the best high school teams in the country with several other very, very good basketball players, and that winning environment both on the travel team circuit and the highly-competitive environment in his high school, winning background, he's also a high-character kid, a great student with a tremendous family. We’re really, really excited to have him.
Miller on Ira Lee: “He’s the one we’ve probably been with the longest in terms of our recruiting efforts. We identified Ira a long, long time ago and offered him a scholarship early in his high school career because he’s a guy with an incredibly high motor. He plays the game with tremendous energy. He’s involved in so many different plays on offense and on defense. From a defensive perspective, he has a chance to be great. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Aaron Gordon, if you’re watching Keanu Pinder learn our system, Ira has that type of athleticism, size, quickness, mostly a mindset, a toughness, that we really, really love.
“He’s also a versatile player, where I think he can play more than one position. He gives us tremendous versatility in that regard because you can play with a lot of different types of combinations. He’s not a one-position player. He’s had a couple injuries, but he’s almost fully cleared from his latest, which is his shoulders, but he should be full-go. We don’t see that being a hindrance to him at all in college, and we dealt with the same injury with Ryan Anderson when Ryan transferred from Boston College.
“Ira, his father is professional athlete, played for the Oakland Raiders, played at USC. He’s raised his son to work extremely hard and Ira, like Brandon, and like Alex is also a very talented student, and somebody that we’re really, really excited to add to our program.”
Miller on Alex Barcello: “He’s a point guard from Phoenix. an incredible student, has the makings to be an incredible leader, has some characteristics of T.J. McConnell that we’ve learned to love. He has a fire inside him and a toughness, a love of the game, at that (point guard) position that you love to have. (We’re) really elated to have him.
“The other thing we love about Alex is in addition to his playmaking skills he can really shoot the 3...The game has changed, the ability to shoot the 3-point shot is valued more now than ever before. We recognize that, and I think when you recruit a perimeter player, you want to have that as part of their ability.”
“Winning is a real part of his background.”
Miller also said he plans to add one more recruit to the mix when all is said and done, and will consider adding a transfer at the semester break.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire.