Losing Shaun hurts, but not the end of the world

Shaun Livingston has chosen to go to Duke. The nation's top point guard, and nation's top overall recruit, will not play for Arizona after a heated recruiting battle. The loss of Livingston will certainly hurt, but the Cats will survive. Livingston may have kept the Cats the national championship favorite for as long as he stayed, but losing him does not mean the Cats won't still be right there.

During the summer recruiting season national recruiting analyst Dave Telep called Livingston a "luxury recruit" for the Wildcats. He felt that with Mustafa Shakur and Chris Rodgers on the roster, that Livingston really wasn't a necessity. Comparisons were made to the New York Yankees and their habit of hoarding players.

While that comparison is not quite accurate, it isn't too far off. The Cats will be fine in the backcourt. Next season the Cats should have five talented guards on the roster. Mustafa Shakur is a pure point guard and most likely he will be here at least two years. Both Salim Stoudamire and Chris Rodgers can handle the point and if they are both still on the team they will provide plenty of depth. The Cats will also have both Jawann McClellan and Hassan Adams who will fill out a very crowded backcourt and we didn't even mention Beau Muhlbach who looks to have a promising career as a walk-on.

Although the cats did not "need" Livingston, landing him would have been nice. Anytime you can bring in the nation's second best recruit it is a good thing. It is a great feather in the cap and it would have looked very good to bring in the nation's best two point guards two classes in a row.

Losing him to Duke is even worse. The Cats and Duke have become recruiting rivals. The two teams are arguably the two hottest programs in college basketball and butt heads on the recruiting trail almost every year. Unfortunately, the Devils have gotten their fair share of players that both teams coveted. Last year the teams split, the Cats landed Ndudi Ebi, while Duke received a verbal Kris Humphries. Ironically enough, neither player wound up at the schools they committed to. Ebi jumped to the pros, while Humphries got out of his letter of intent and wound up at Minnesota.

The best thing about Livingston is his versatility. He is a legitimate point guard, but at 6-7 he can play any of the three perimeter positions. The Cats would have amazing options when it came to using him. Teaming him with Shakur and Iguodala would give Arizona three fantastic passers on the court at the same time.

It now looks like the Cats will turn their attention to the 2005 class. They already have point guard Nic Wise on tap for 2006 and would love to add a combo-guard in next year's class. Talented guards like Harvey Perry Jr., Mario Chalmers and others have already expressed interest in the Wildcats and depending on what shakes out with players leaving, the Wildcats could be a very attractive place for a guard on 2005.

As it stands the Cats miss out on a very talented player, one of the best in the class. You'd always like to land a player of his stature, but in this instance it wasn't a "must-have" recruit. The Cats will survive and thrive without Livingston. Now if they could only add a much-needed big man…


*The Wildcats may have received some good news when Davis Nwankwo announced that he will most likely commit during the fall signing period. He is still listing Arizona as his favorite.

*In less heralded news, Arizona lost out on Andrew Brackman a power forward and baseball player from Ohio. The Cats were trying to get involved late, but he chose to play both baseball and basketball at NC State.

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