Bejarano decision now more meaningful

Sean Miller has had plenty of success recruiting at Arizona. However, when did it all start? A closer look reveals that although Daniel Bejarano did not work out at Arizona, his commit could have been one of the most important.

For a quarter century ex-UA coach Lute Olson dominated in-state recruiting. He recruited five in-state players, including four Phoenix natives who went on to become NBA lottery picks. His success and proficiency for developing NBA talent ensured ASU was never competitive for any in-state player Olson decided to recruit.

This 25 year streak of in-state recruiting dominance was seemingly threatened at the beginning of the 2009 college basketball.

By beating out many of the juggernauts of college basketball for elite level recruits such as Josiah Turner and Brandon Ashley, Sean Miller has shown what a formidable recruiter he is on the national stage. However, one of his most impressive recruiting accomplishments to date took place in his own backyard.

Miller took over as UA head coach before the 2009-10 season at a time when Arizona and ASU were seemingly headed in vastly different directions.

Becoming the fourth UA head coach in four years, Miller inherited a program in shambles with a roster comprised of four Division 1 caliber players. One prominent college basketball analyst claimed it would take seven years for Miller to rebuild the program after the upheaval that occurred during the previous few years.

Meanwhile, optimism was running high in Tempe. Powered by James Harden, a first team All American and eventual number 3 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, ASU was coming off a second round NCAA tournament appearance and had compiled a 46-23 over the previous two seasons.

By winning five straight games including going 3-0 the previous season against their in-state nemesis, the Sun Devils entered the 2009-10 season in control of the in-state rivalry.

A month and a half before the start of the 2009-2010, citing a desire to be closer to home, Phoenix North High School senior and former five-star prospect Daniel Bejarano decommitted from Texas and announced he would attend one of the two in-state schools.

Bejarano was a huge target for both teams. Sendek had known Bejarano for years and could send a huge message by beating out UA for an in-state recruit.

While Herb Sendek was looking to send a message, Sean Miller was just looking for Division 1 players. For the first time in decades, ASU seemingly had all the advantages against UA for an in-state recruit.

On October 5, 2009, Sendek and two ASU assistants met with Bejarano's family and advisors for more than four hours. It was a devastating blow for Sendek when he walked out of the Bejarano house without a commitment. Shortly after the visit, Sendek pulled Bejarano's scholarship offer in an attempt to save face given the likelihood of a Bejarano commitment to Arizona.

Despite recruiting Bejarano for a matter of days, Miller closed the deal shortly thereafter and Bejarano became a Wildcat. It soon became apparent that Bejarano was not a high-major caliber player, but the statement was made. With all the advantages, Sendek lost out in his first head to head recruiting battle with Sean Miller.

While Sendek's ASU program has since fallen on hard times, Miller has fast tracked the UA back to the precipice of the nation's elite and it's not hard to view the Bejarano recruitment as a definitive statement for both schools. At a time of seeming vulnerability, Miller let it be known that nothing had changed. UA would continue to dominate in-state recruiting and while Daniel Bejarano has since transferred to Colorado State, it is easy to say his commitment was a precursor of things to come.

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