Farmar a Bruin, Cats set their sites elsewhere

Arizona's recruiting efforts were dealt another blow when Jordan Farmar committed to UCLA. The West Coast's top point guard spurned the UA and others in favor of the hometown Bruins and a chance to be a part of Ben Howland's first recruiting class.

Academics seem to have played a huge role in Farmar's decision. School is very important to Jordan and his mother. Based on his statements, UCLA's academic tradition, more than basketball, was the determining factor.

"The networking contacts," Farmar told Prep West Hoops.

Getting to play in front of friends and family is a key as well. Last summer Farmar indicated he would rather get away from Los Angeles, but at the time Steve Lavin was still the coach. With Howland at the helm things have changed. The new coach came on hard and made an impact.

"I think Coach Howland's strengths will help me with my weaknesses," Farmar said. "I think I need to work on my defense and my physical strength – those are areas where I think he can help me."

Arizona was thought to be an early favorite for Farmar's services, but in recent days it seemed as if the Cats had fallen behind the Bruins and Florida. A glut of guards may have also been a huge factor in Arizona's descent. Signing Mustafa Shakur to a unit that already included Chris Rodgers and Salim Stoudamire might have stacked the deck in favor of the Bruins.

At UCLA there is no young stud point guard and two other players on the roster between him and a starting spot. Cedric Bozeman and Ryan Walcott, will be seniors when Farmar enrolls.

The loss of Farmar means the Cats will most likely need to uncover some other point guard recruits. They are in good shape with Shaun Livingston, but the Illinois native is also looking at Duke, Illinois and Florida. He has taken an unofficial visit to Durham and will be in Gainesville in two weeks for an official to Florida.

The Cats have also seen two other potential point guards commit elsewhere. Florida's Darius Washington will attend Memphis and Houston's Daniel Gibson is going to be a Texas Longhorn. Another player the UA was eyeing, LA's Gabriel Pruitt, is a strong lean for USC and may not be the type of player Arizona is looking for anyway.

One reason the Cats want a point guard from this class is that they have Nic Wise coming in 2006 and have all but ruled out recruiting that position for 2005. It appears as if they are covering all their bases. An elite player like Shakur may not be here for more than a couple years. Additionally, Chris Rodgers has flirted with transferring and the coaches prefer leaving Salim Stoudamire at the two. The Cats don't want to be caught short if Shakur leaves early. Even if he does stay 3-4 years, the Cats have seen in recent years that a competent backup is key. Walk-on John Ash was the primary backup during Jason Terry's senior year and Jason Gardner's freshman year. Terry and Gardner logged over 38 minutes a game and seemed to lose their legs a bit late in the season.

Farmar has a great opportunity to build something with Howland and the Bruins. The Cats hope to find someone to continue the tradition in Tucson.

Insider's recruiting expert Greg Hicks broke the Farmar story on PrepWestHoops.com. For his original story CLICK HERE

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