Sean Miller always speaks highly of the players he signs, but Wednesday had a bit of a different feeling when discussing Lauri Markkanen.
“We’re ecstatic to get Lauri Markkanen’s National Letter of Intent back,” Miller said. “Not everybody is going to know Lauri because he doesn’t play in the United States and he lives in Finland, but he’s as talented of a player as we have recruited in my time at Arizona.”
One of the more appealing aspect of Markkanen is his size.
“The first thing that really stood out on his official visit and obviously we have watched him all summer and I went over there, when he was around our own team on his official visit, it was striking looking at his size,” Miller said.
“In his shoes we measured him at 7-foot-1,” Miller said. “He is actually taller than Dusan and Kaleb. I think you’re looking at a true seven footer.
“The way he plays the game, this summer he played in the A Division where in my mind there are some of the best players, coaches, and teams in the world. He led the entire tournament in scoring. He can score in a variety of ways.
“He can score in the post. He is not a skinny, rail-thin guy. I think he is in the 220s. I believe he will be 230, 240 in q quick way once he gets there.”
Markkanen’s ability to shoot at his size is what makes him one of the more unique prospects in the class.
“He can really shoot the ball and there’s a difference shooting in the FIBA line and our college game,” Miller said. “It separates the men from the boys. He is a prolific three-point shooter from the FIBA line.
“He puts the ball on the floor and is very agile. When you watch him on video he looks more like a 6-foot-8, skilled forward that we see a lot in college basketball. The difference is he does play that way, except he is seven foot.
“He comes in at a very crucial time for us, so getting that skilled wing forward that can do a lot of things was a quest for us. If he was in the high school ranked here in the United State I think where he would be rated would be extremely high.”
Miller also made it a point to put Markkanen in a positive light when comparing to players that may think they are better than they truly are.
“A lot of guys act like they are good shooters, but when you pull the stat sheet out they make 25 percent, 28 percent,” he said. “When that kid comes to college there is a rude awakening and adjustment.
“I saw it this year in USA Basketball. You have guys that try out with huge reputations and a skill level and in the tryout they can’t get a shot off or they can’t make a shot. You recognize that as the competition jumped and the height in the gym elevated, they’re not the same player.
“When you get that guy coming to Arizona or major college basketball, there is a huge adjustment and many times that adjustment just requires time, time that maybe they don’t always want to have.
“For us getting Lauri with his ability to shoot it and play the way he does at his height, there aren’t many players like him and I say that with great confidence.”