Schu Strings:Recruiting starts earlier and earlier

In the modern world of college basketball, fans have become increasingly upset that players only stay with a program for two years. Not true. Top-flight performers still have a four-year commitment to the team. It's just that two of those years are spent in high school.

By now you've heard of Nic Wise, super-soph to be. That would be as in high school super-soph. Well, in short order, Wise, who has been watched by Arizona since the sixth grade, will make his decision in regards to his collegiate future. He will do this three years removed from actually attending the school of his choice.

A 5-10 point guard from Houston, Wise is obviously a major prospect. Arizona has been in the mix since the onset of the millennium. He makes an unofficial visit to Texas on Thursday. Wise is probably a good kid with a good upbringing, complete with good intentions.

Intentions such as the belief that perhaps the endless recruiting calls will stop once he has announced. And on that note, can you blame him? As a freshman, this kid was getting a steady flow of recruiting rings. While collegiate programs aren't officially allowed to make contact, there are numerous ways to get the point across. Add to that the stream of recruiting sites and one can understand why enduring phone calls for the next three years asking about one's hoops future might not rank high on the list of prep pastimes.

Great in theory, but not practical in the real world, for the calls will continue regardless, precisely because Wise can't make his intentions binding until the letter-of-intent signing period his senior season, two-and-a-half years from now.

Herein lies one of the burdens of being an elite program. Arizona now must make a decision. Does it set the precedent and accept the verbal of a high-school underclassman? Apparently yes. And it's understandable. Duke is doing it. If the UA doesn't with Wise, Texas certainly will open its doors. It's part of basketball's trickle down effect. As more players leave early for the NBA, college teams have to keep an eye on the future, even if the future is three years down the road.

Certainly, it's a gamble. Remember Schea Cotton? Sports Illustrated feature in ninth grade, photos of UA basketball coaches in attendance. Well, that can't miss prospect bombed.

Wise says one of the reasons he likes Arizona is because of the opportunity to play with friend Jawann McClellan. This is the same McClellan who became the first player to verbally commit to Arizona prior to his junior year. The same McClellan who won't step foot on McKale in an organized practice for 18 months. The same McClellan who could be long gone by the time Wise arrives in Tucson.

In the new era of college basketball, sometimes it's tough to be great. Arizona has potentially opened the floodgates. Here's hoping it doesn't get swept away…

…Moving on…

…Over the weekend I accompanied Cat Tracks Editor Brad Allis on a swing to Las Vegas for a basketball recruiting camp. For Brad, it was a two-purpose activity. For me, basically an excuse to say hello to a friend. Always good to see the friend, especially when the friend, who works wastewater (past readers of Schu Strings might remember mention of this friend from such discussions as the "Cause of the Speedway Sinkholes"), also doubles as tour guide and information source.

On Saturday night, Brad, his fiancée, the friend and I toodled around The Strip, stopping at places like the Bellagio water show so that the friend could explain how on June 1, the Las Vegas area is going into a Level Two water emergency, which means some conservation measures will be necessary. A Level Three emergency is the most dire. Even at Level Two, casinos will not be affected. He also went into great detail about how an engineering company from New Jersey was called in to help the Bellagio figure out how to work all the spouts for those fancy displays, and how it takes an amazing amount of pressure in the valves to get the water to do what it did so precisely.

But the friend was not the only insightful one on this swing through Sin City. Brad was Mr. Knowledge as well. On a whim we hit one of the buffets at the Gold Coast Casino, across from the Palms. It just so happened the Gold Coast was hosting a Rockabilly Convention. Conventions are great things. The hardest core of the hardcore gathering in one location to share a subcultural interest. You gotta say, Rockabilly definitely has a look. It's sort of a punk/50s hybrid, and it's apparently huge in Japan.

Anyway, Brad went on to explain the history of the Rockabilly movement, and in very impressive fashion. The high point was when he broke down the difference between original swing and the new movement that had a sort of revival about five years ago, most notably in the form of Brian Setzer. Well, says Brad, the new movement really isn't swing. It's Jump Blues. I found this very informative and promised myself I'd try to fit it into a column.

Now accomplished, I guess I'm done.

To talk about this and other recruiting news check out the CATS' LAIR MESSAGE BOARD

[Editor's note: Brad also asked why there were so many rockabilly people in the casino BEFORE we saw the signs for the Rockabilly Hall-of-Fame. It must also be noted that Schu would have gone 4-for-4 in the sports book, but did not drop any money on his games.]

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