When I sat down to write my last recruiting update in January, Kobi Simmons had just joined Lauri Markkanen as the only two 2016 commits for the Arizona Wildcats.
Since then, we have seen U of A offer Jordy Tshimanga, a raw, but talented big man from Canada. Rawle Alkins visited Tucson twice and then became the third commit. We also saw Terrance Ferguson reopen his recruitment after decommitting from Alabama, and then schedule a trip to Tucson starting today, March 24th.
#BearDown see you tomorrow ⬇️— #ripGma❤️ (@the2kferguson) March 24, 2016
What we haven't seen is any movement with Josh Jackson, the NBA-ready wing that has had college coaches salivating since before he entered high school. That, however, is slowly starting to change as the April 13th signing period inches closer.
Before we jump into the fine details, let's recap.
Arizona currently has the aforementioned Markkanen locked in as he signed his letter of intent during the fall signing period.
They also have Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons, both five-star guards, as hard commits who should sign their LOI's as soon as they are allowed. The spring signing period starts April 13th.
With three on the board, that leaves the Wildcats with potentially three more available scholarships to hand out (the team is losing four seniors, most likely Elliott Pitts, and Arizona was one scholarship short of the limit this year).
Knowing this, who is most likely to fill those spots?
It's currently down to top-ranked Josh Jackson, 15th-ranked Terrance Ferguson, 184th-ranked Tshimanga, and potentially Kory Holden, a transfer who has been linked to Arizona.
Nothing has technically changed since we last wrote on his recruitment.
We did say he could decide by the end of February based off of other reports, but that's obviously come and gone. According to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, Jackson will wait until the signing period to announce, giving him a chance to see roster developments with players declaring for the NBA Draft or not.
Another thing that hasn't changed are Jackson's top three teams: Arizona, Kansas, and Michigan State.
When Borzello was asked about the recruitment on March 10th, he said it was basically a toss up, but alluded to Arizona being favored by an ever-so-slight margin.
That margin, it seems, has shrunk and gone the other direction. Towards Kansas.
The latest change on the prediction was 247's Director of Recruiting Jerry Meyer, one of the best in the business, flipping from Arizona to Kansas. Of the last six predictions for Jackson, five of them have been towards Kansas, the sole reason for their rise.
247Sports Dir. of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer changed his CrystalBall pick on five-star Josh Jackson from Arizona to Kansas today.— Chip Miller (@BLUEChip_Miller) March 23, 2016
While the Jackson camp has been as tight lipped as we have ever seen, he did speak to USA Basketball ahead of the Nike Hoop Summit on April 9th.
The top rated senior moved out to California for his junior and senior seasons to play for basketball powerhouse Prolific Prep Academy, a move he said was "the right decision." Additionally, the 6'7" wing stated that one of the best things is being away from the Michigan weather.
"Being from Michigan, I hated the cold. I hated the winter. Shoveling snow all the time. To come out here and live in this weather, I've really enjoyed it."
Could that be a sign that he's mentally crossed Michigan State off his list? Who knows, but we all know which school on his list registers zero on the annual snow chart.
Jackson also talked about what he's looking for when making a decision.
"Number one is the trust factor. I just want to be around people I can trust and who are going to push me to become better on and off the court. Two is style of play. Each team plays pretty fast. I think that is where I’m best, when we are playing fast, or in the open court, transition. Three, I kind of already said it in the first one: to be under a coach who is going to push me and not just kiss my butt because I am who I am or they want me so bad. Push me to get better."
He also added that the schools who lost early - Arizona and Michigan State - don't need to worry about the losses affecting the decision.
Overall, this is one recruitment that probably won't be known until the day of or even when the words leave his mouth.
Ferguson is in the same mold as Jackson, both 6'7" and slender, but possessing a world of possibilities. He originally committed to Alabama in August, but declined to sign a LOI in the fall signing period, a glaring sign that someone might not be completely on board with their decision.
Scout's Jason Scheer, who reports for Wildcat Authority, wrote late Wednesday night that "sources say that [Ferguson] is getting closer to making a decision."
According to recent activity on the 247 Crystal Ball, those sources seem to be accurate.
If he does choose Arizona, he brings an excellent three point shot, something Arizona will be missing with Gabe York graduating and Pitts probably on the way out. Additionally, he brings top tier defense, another aspect the 'Cats were missing throughout the season and in their first round loss to Wichita State.
Ferguson is very three-point reliant. He lacks consistent offensive balance, a deficiency he must improve over the next couple years. But despite that, his tools are easy to recognize. In addition to a jumper that can become scorching hot from deep, he's a very good athlete. With his quickness and length, he should be able to defend shooting guards or wing forwards at the next level. He simply needs to get stronger and improve his ball handling.
While Jackson is the ultimate prize, landing Ferguson would be like not getting a 100-foot yacht, but instead getting an 80-foot yacht. In the end, you still have a yacht and with Ferguson, you still have a dominant player who can make a difference on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
If it is true that he's heavily leaning towards making a decision, keep an eye out for news this weekend. Miller doesn't let many recruits get away who visit Tucson, especially when it's this beautiful weather-wise (which also means pool parties!!)
Not much has changed in this recruitment either, but with how this recruitment has blown up since January, the family's taking their time coming to a decision that will best help Jordy's development.
(I talked to the Tshimanga camp right after he received an offer from the University of Arizona and you can read that here.)
I've had some intermittent contact with the family, the last being on March 1st when I was told they were trying to schedule out an official visit to Tucson.
Yannick, Jordy's older brother, texted me, "Arizona may be the only school that gets Jordy on campus for a game."
That never came to fruition, but it shows that both sides were trying to get the ball rolling towards a potential commitment.
In all, he has been offered by over ten schools with Iowa State, Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Colorado having the most name recognition.
This is a recruiting process I expect to drag out well past the middle of April or even into May as programs around the country begin to have a better idea of what their roster make up will look like going into the 2016-17 season.
Arizona reached out to Delaware transfer Kory Holden tonight. Second-team All-CAA guard.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 24, 2016
Now he's not technically a recruit, but he is a potential addition to the team. If you'd like the full breakdown, our very own Ryan Kelapire had a great piece about it here.
In order to not steal his thunder, just know that he'll bring play-making ability to the team as a scorer and facilitator. He does not, however, fill the mold of a defensive-minded point guard, at least according to the advanced statistics.
A commitment from him would allow him three total years in Tucson - one redshirt and two years to play - giving Sean Miller a capable, talented, and tall point guard to lead the team.
As It Stands Now...
The Wildcats' recruiting class is currently ranked 6th overall on ESPN and 247Sports, 4th on SCOUT, and 7th on 247's Composite Rankings (average across all recruiting sites). An addition of either Jackson or Ferguson should bump them into the top five if not top three across all recruiting websites.