Unknown guard chooses Cats

The Wildcats have done it again. For the third straight year Lute Olson and his staff pull off a recruiting coup, getting a player no one else had heard of. The Cats received a verbal commitment from Daniel Dillon an Australian combo-guard who has only been in America since August. Cat Tracks caught up with his high school coach to learn about the mystery man.

If the name Daniel Dillon does not sound familiar in recruiting circles it is because few people knew of him. Dillon, from Australia, and did not participate in any of the major summer recruiting events and slipped through the cracks. Apparently Olson was tipped off about Dillon from one of his contacts in Australia and the Cats quickly got in on his recruitment.

The Wildcat staff did a great job keeping Dillon's recruitment a secret. Not only did Internet recruiting services not learn of Arizona's interest, but you'd be hard pressed to find Dillon listed on any web site. He was truly an unknown commodity in recruiting services until his commitment was leaked to the media by someone close to him.

"I don't know how Arizona found out about him," said his high school coach Ken Woods. "Arizona has done their homework on this one."

Dillon is a foreign exchange student who will play his senior season for Woods at North Laurel High School in London, Ky. Woods learned of Dillon from a former player of his who lives in Australia and Dillon decided to finish high school in the small town 70 miles south of Lexington.

Dillon is a multi-talented combo-guard who stands a hair over 6-3. He is very strong and athletic and uses those skills to get into the lane where he is most effective.

"He's an excellent ball handler and a great passer," Woods said. "He takes the ball to the basket very well and is a good shooter. His best quality is his passing, he has great court awareness."

Before coming to the States, Dillon was one of the best young players in Australia. He participated with many Australian club teams and the Australian Institute of Sport Junior Camp. In America he will play for a high school in the heart of basketball country.

"It's all basketball in this state," said Woods, who has coached North Laurel for the past five seasons.

Dillon has quickly adapted to American basketball. He has begun a strength training program since getting to Kentucky and has shown great gains in a short amount of time.

"He's strong physically even though he never lifted a weight before moving here," Woods said. "We began lifting weights in August and is so strong. He's just a natural athlete."

He'll get tested on the court as well. North Laurel is one of the better teams in the state, finishing in their regional finals two of the past three years. Kentucky has a single division championship, so just getting a small school that far the state tournament is an accomplishment. Woods has tried to schedule tough and this year is not different.

"We play all the good teams plus Oak Hill (Academy in Virginia)," Woods said. "We'll get a great test against Oak Hill, which is a national power."

Woods says that Dillon is a good shooter but has the tools to get better. Dillon relies on getting to the hoop and doesn't need to shoot from the outside as much. Being as quick and as strong as he is, relying on a jumpshot has not been a priority. "All high school kids, no matter how talented, don't work on their shot if they don't need it," Woods confessed. "Most high school kids need to work on shooting. He'll be ready when he gets to college because he'll get increased shooting reps and increased instruction. He has no glaring weaknesses, and his shooting will keep improving.

Woods praised his coaches in Australia and says that he has a great grasp of fundamentals. He also praised Dillon's instincts, saying that he has unbelievable court vision and just knows where to make the pass.

Dillon fills the Cats' desire for a combo-guard in this class. The UA found out last week that Shaun Livingston was headed to Duke, ending their chance of landing the nation's top point guard. They also pursued players like Jordan Farmar (UCLA), Isaiah Swann (Florida State) and Darius Washington (Memphis) among others. The Wildcats already have a commitment from Nic Wise a 5-8 point guard from Missouri City (Hightower), Tex. Wise is in the 2006 class.

Dillon is the third straight unsung recruit uncovered by the Wildcat coaching staff . Arizona brought in forward Chris Dunn last year and welcomed Kirk Walters into this year's crop of new Wildcats. Walk-on Beau Muhlbach, a player who did not receive a single Division-I offer, has also been a pleasant surprise, showcasing enough ability that he could see spot minutes this season.

Recruiting Notes:
*Forward recruit Davis Nwankwo has reiterated his intent to sign in the early signing period. He isn't sure when he will sign, but plans on doing it by the end of the period next Wednesday. He would not say if he intends to sign with Arizona, but has long insisted that the Wildcats are the favorite.

*Barring another surprise commitment, the Wildcats will have three players sign letters of intent on Wednesday. Mohamed Tangara and Jawann McClellan will join Dillon in officially joining Arizona's 2004 recruiting class.

Doug Carr contributed to this story

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