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Arizona basketball recruiting: Billy Preston, Ira Lee top Wildcats' list of 2017 recruiting targets

Sean Miller and his coaching staff are going after the very best in the 2017 class.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Providence Practice Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting class is more or less complete and the players are starting to trickle onto campus for summer classes and workouts.

The lone question mark remaining is Terrance Ferguson’s uncertainty. While the coaches expected him on campus by June 20, after going through Team USA U18 training camp. The Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe noted early Tuesday morning that Ferguson no longer appears on that roster. The five-star recruit had won three gold medals with Team USA so it's somewhat shocking he would walk away from the national team.

While a final answer on his academic eligibility won't be known until later this summer, it will be a good sign if he does arrive next week.

With that top-ranked class wrapped up, we turn our eyes towards 2017. This next class has the potential to be even better, which is crazy saying this last one had four five-stars.

First Tier

Because there are a plethora of prospects, the first tier will be those who have already narrowed down their lists and have included U of A in their final teams and the next will be those who Sean Miller and his staff are working hard to get on campus and/or to commit.

Billy Preston

Preston, a 6-foot-10 power forward out of Dallas (same school as Ferguson) has Arizona in his final four which also includes Maryland, Kansas, and USC. He told that the recruiting process got tiring and "I’m rocking with the four through the rest of my high school career." The five-star forward said he’ll be making his final decision sometime during his senior year.

He talked about why he likes the Wildcats:

"Coach Book and Coach Sean Miller are great coaches. When I went on my unofficial there Coach Miller is definitely a player’s coach. He told me that because I’m very versatile, he’s not going to stick me in any certain position and let me play where I see fit. I like a player’s coach."

Ira Lee

Lee is a 6-foot-8 center out of Prolific Prep (same school as Josh Jackson) and has said Arizona is in his top six and one of the teams recruiting him the hardest right now. He plans on taking a visit to Tucson in the last week of June.

The four-star prospect is likely to be one of the first commits of the class if/when he so chooses as he plans to make his decision this fall. We'll have more on him at the end of the month.

PJ Washington

Washington is a 6-foot-7 uber-athletic forward from Findlay Prep who is considered one of the top players in the nation. On May 24, he released his Top 12 which included Arizona, Michigan State, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA, North Carolina, Oregon, and others. He also told 247’s Jerry Meyer that "North Carolina, N.C. State, Arizona, Kentucky, and Texas are recruiting me the hardest."

Miller visited the 18th-ranked player in early April and he plans on taking official visits to UNC, Kentucky, Texas and Arizona. While he says he still plans to narrow his list to around five in the coming future, one can assume U of A will make the cut with him after including it in his list of schools he wants to officially visit.

The forward also told Rivals he wants to make those visits in the early fall (September and October) and make a decision in November during the early signing period. He also added he’s been in contact with Ferguson and Allonzo Trier about playing there and they said "Sean Miller is really hard on the players. I’m ready for that."

Charles O’Bannon Jr.

O’Bannon, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Las Vegas named Arizona in his final eight schools on June first.

The four-star guard is one of the top 25 players in the nation per 247’s Composite Rankings (they have him as a five-star but other sites do not). He would give the Wildcats another tall, long guard plus a do-everything skill set that is so critical in the current college basketball landscape.

Second Tier

With it being in the middle of June, plenty of prospects are still at the early stages of their recruiting and haven’t narrowed down their lists yet. The following are players Arizona has targeted.

Trevon Duval

This 6-foot-3 guard out of Texas (same school as Ferguson) is widely considered in the highest tier in the nation. A consensus five-star player, he’s ranked 5th overall in the country and the top point guard.

According to Duval, Arizona is one of the three schools recruiting him the hardest. For what he’s looking for in a school and coaching staff, he told last fall, "I want a school where the coaches talk to me as much as they can during the appropriate times and develop a good relationship with me."

He tweeted recently that he hasn’t cut his list yet but it should be coming soon.

Troy Brown

Brown is another top-tier guard with great size (6-foot-6) and hails from Las Vegas. He was at last year’s Red-Blue game, so he knows first-hand what it would be like to play in front of a McKale Center crowd.

Last December, he wrote in his USA Today blog about the trip.

"First, I went to Arizona and I loved it; beautiful campus, nice weather. I went to watch my friends Justin Simon and Ray Smith play in the red and blue game. It was really fun! My boy Jarred Vanderbilt and Brandon McCoy were down there so we were having fun just hanging out."

In his latest blog, he didn’t mention Arizona though, and said Alabama, California, Stanford, and Oregon are on him the hardest. He did add he plans to cut his list next year and isn’t in a rush to decide.

He reiterated how he wanted to take the process slow to's Evan Daniels today and the first school out of his mouth was Arizona. When asked about U of A and his visit, Brown responded "it was a good atmosphere...close to home...all the players are really nice guys and the coaching staff are really good people.

Brandon McCoy

The eighth-ranked player in the nation, the 7-foot power forward was also at the Red-Blue game as Troy mentioned above and loved it saying, "It was fun. The fans are crazy. It was only a Red-Blue scrimmage and it was a packed house then, so I can only imagine what it's like when they're playing rivals. I love playing in front of those type of people and I love playing in front of a lot of people."

Right now, McCoy listed Arizona in his top six schools that are coming after him the hardest. When he was asked about Arizona, his face lit up into a huge smile and said, "It’s crazy. Coach Miller and Coach Pasternack… I love 'em. They’ve been recruiting me since I was in the eighth grade."

While he mentioned he doesn’t have any visits lined up yet, he did say his mom is going to go visit U of A in the near future. He also doesn’t have a timetable for a decision yet.

Jarred Vanderbilt

At 6-foot-7, Vanderbilt is another athletic, all-around forward who would fit Miller’s uptempo style of basketball. Known for his rebounding and intensity on the court, it’s no wonder Miller has made him a priority.

The Houston native told 247’s Jerry Meyer at the Pangos All-American Camp that he hears from U of A "on the daily" and plans to figure out what schools I'm gonna go [visit]." He also added he’ll likely sign next April.

Rankings wise, he comes in at 13th overall.

Collin Sexton

A five-star guard who has been rising in the rankings thanks to an incredible EYBL showing, Sexton (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) has become a priority for Arizona. He talked to Evan Daniels in May and said his style of play is to "always be in attack mode." He also mentioned his recruiting process has "exploded" thanks to his great junior season.

When asked about Arizona, Sexton stated the staff wants to get him on campus "real soon" and "[Sean Miller] is a guard-friendly coach. He lets Allonzo Trier go and that’s big."

After Arizona offered in April, he told Jason Scheer of WildcatAuthority, "They’ve been incredibly complimentary of my game." In what he’s looking for in a coach, he added, "The big thing for me is I want to play for a coach that I trust and who knows how to make me a better player."

He plans on making his college decision sometime this summer.

Galen Alexander

A 6-foot-6 small forward out of Louisiana, Alexander has been on Arizona’s radar since they offered him back in September of 2015. There’s not a lot of information out there about the four-star swingman, but his offers keep climbing. Right now, he’s not too worried about cutting teams or making a final list and focused on his own basketball game.

He's previously told, "Right now, I haven't really put too much thought into [favorite schools]. I've really just been focused on developing and working on my game to make sure that when I do decide, I'll be able to step on the floor my first year there."

He added about who’s recruiting him, "They're all big schools. They're all schools that I'll be seriously considering. All great coaches and I just look forward to building relationships with both the team and the coaches."

Matt Moreno of Rivals recently tweeted he plans on taking an official visit to Arizona, though the date is not set.

Mohamed Bamba

At 7-feet, 240 pounds, Bamba would be an imposing interior presence for the Cats. What’s better? He has a 7-foot-8 wingspan that would make getting shots over him nearly impossible and impractical. His recent successes have seen him become one of the players in contention for number one overall in his class.

When considering a school, he listed his top three factors: strong alumni base, who else will be joining him in his 2017 class, and academics. He also plans to narrow his list by the end of summer.

Derek Culver

At 6-foot-9, Culver may be a little undersized at the center position, but he’s still considered one of the better players in his class. Ranked 50th, the four-star prospect said Arizona has been in contact with him and plans to visit Arizona this summer according to

It appears Miller is coming after him hard as of late and the Ohio native is appreciative.

"I like Arizona a lot," said Culver. "It is a really nice school and Coach Miller seems like a down to earth guy. He grew up not too far from where I am from so that is good. He and I stay up a lot and talk about the weather and just basketball and things like that."

He has no timetable for committing or trimming his list.

Matt Coleman

At 6-foot-2, Coleman has the prototypical point guard build. Ranked 39th in the nation and 10th at the PG spot, he’s a dynamic guard with excellent ball handling ability. He mentioned to ZagsBlog that he hears from Arizona and other schools on a daily basis.

DeAndre Ayton

The number one ranked recruit in America, Ayton is a 7-footer from Phoenix, and has the eyes of every college coach. He recently told that his favorites list contains nine schools including Arizona and Arizona State (though he says he hasn’t talked to anyone at ASU yet), Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and others. The big man said Arizona and ASU will be getting unofficial visits in the "coming weeks" thanks to their proximity to home while the rest will be later on in the year.

However, it does seem Arizona is in the top threshold, with Ayton telling Evan Daniels that Arizona, Kentucky, and Kansas have been in contact with him the most recently. Another interesting factor is his desire to get another big time player to come with him.

"I really want another big to come with me," he said. "It will be really serious. Get a nice little (NCAA) championship ring to leave with. Just looking for another big so I can stretch the floor a little bit."

Oh did I mention he's only going to school for one year?

Hamidou Diallo

A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Connecticut, Diallo is one of the top players in the nation (7th overall) and the top-ranked at his position. With the ability to get even better, his athleticism stands out on the court even when playing against the best. While his outside shooting may need some work, he’s an aggressive scorer and one who never shies away from wanting the ball.

Ike Obiagu

Another 7-footer, Obiagu is one of the best defensive players in the nation. I talked to the four-star center last month, and he said the coaching staff was hoping to get him on campus for a visit and have been recruiting him hard.

The center told Jerry Meyer of 247 that he’s looking for a place "where I can play right away, where they develop their bigs and utilize their players." With a plethora of schools offering him, don’t expect any quick decisions in this recruiting process.

Lonnie Walker

A top-25 player nationally, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard/small forward from Pennsylvania was offered by the Wildcats in the middle of May. When asked about the offer from ZagsBlog, he said "Coach Miller is a great coach; he’s had a lot of great players come through. That offer means a lot."

He plans on cutting his list in late summer or early fall and will be deciding based off of "environment around the coach, the players, the academics, players they're looking for, and just the overall feeling of it."

The Cats will have to battle programs such as Kentucky, Villanova, Oregon, Syracuse, and Virginia in order to land the explosive wing.

Third Tier

Daejon Davis

A former Washington commit, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard backed off that pledge in the spring though he’s still considering them. Right now, he’s really focusing on playing basketball and not letting that distract him. While Arizona has upped their recruiting of him now that he’s a free agent, there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on between them right now.

Ranked 41st in the nation, Davis is a good shooter but an even better passer, which makes him a great asset on the court. He’ll need to bulk up to hold his ground in college but this is a name to keep an eye on as Pac-12 teams are really coming after him hard. Washington and Gonzaga seem to be in the lead with Oregon up there too.

Gary Trent Jr.

At 6-foot-5, the 10th overall player in the 2017 class has had an Arizona offer for nearly a year now. The shooting guard told the Detroit Free Press that U of A along with Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, and UCLA are recruiting him the hardest right now. Known for his shooting ability, writes "You won't find many players that can shoot with Gary Trent in high school basketball."

While Duke appears to be one of his favorites, he hasn’t set a timetable for his decision. He and his buddy Wendell Carter (another top recruit) are planning on a package deal - something that puts either Duke or Kentucky in a great spot - and looks to have Arizona on the outside looking in.

Kevin Knox

The 6-foot-8 small forward from Tampa talked to’s Evan Daniels about the recruiting process and said Arizona has been calling him recently and he wants to learn more about what the program has to offer. At this point, though, Miller has not extended an offer to the swingman, though with them talking more, it could happen soon. Overall, he’s the sixth-ranked player nationally and top player in the state of Florida.

On a timetable, Knox stated "I don’t want to be committed going into the high school season" which means he won’t be an early signing period commitment and likely wouldn’t announce until the spring.


Other names to keep an eye on are Lindell Wigginton (four-star point guard) and Jordan Tucker (four-star small forward).

This long list will eventually be trimmed as the coaching staff starts to really target the handful of guys they want and as the prospects start to decide where they want to spend their college days. Stay tuned for more updates as the summer progresses and we near the fall signing period.

You can follow Alec on Twitter @UofAlec for all Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting coverage.