Wallace is wide open

Arizona wants a true center in the class of 2005, but they will look at a wide variety of big men. Potentially they could have three power forwards and only Kirk Walters at center, but with the way Lute Olson's offense operates, getting a quality four man could more than fill the void.

Artem Wallace may be just that four. The 6-8 big man from Toledo, Washington is talented enough to play either post spot and may be good enough to fill the Wildcats' needs.

Wallace's story is a heartbreaking one. He originally came to America as a Russian exchange student, but his mother passes away when he was over here. With little family back in Russia, Wallace (then Terechov), was adopted by an American family and has thrived in America since.

On the phone there is no trace on an accent and he's very articulate and interesting. He's enthusiastic about basketball, and wants to talk about the great players he has played.

"I've played against some of the guys on Rotary Select," Wallace said of one of the country's best AAU teams. "I was very impressed by Marvin Williams. (Josh) Heytvelt, I played against him too." Wallace really wanted a shot at Gonzaga bound David Pendegraft, but his Toledo team failed to reach the Washington 1-A State Finals. They settled for a fourth place finish, while Pendegraft's Brewster ball club won the title.

"I had hoped to play him in the tournament," Wallace said. "They went to the championship game and we didn't. I really wanted to go against him."

Wallace averaged just over 25 points and 16 rebounds a game, and an impressive 22 and 13 in play off games.

At this point he is wide open in terms of recruiting. He likes the entire Pac-10 and is still looking for solid offers from other schools too.

"I am open to all schools," Wallace said. "I don't really have a list, I don't have a top-10."

He says that UCLA and Washington have recruited him the hardest. He follows the Huskies closely, and would have been at the upset of Stanford had he not had a game that night. Despite the home state influence, Wallace says that the Huskies have no bigger advantage at this time than any other school.

He's looked at a lot of schools already. He's taken an unofficial visit to UCLA and has been on the campuses of Oregon State, Washington and Washington State, and he's gone to see Gonzaga play in person.

He's hearing from Arizona, but they are not coming hard as of yet. He likes the warm weather in Tucson, but admits "I don't know much about them."

"I've heard they already have a lot of big guys," Wallace said. "I want to play right away, at least 5-10 minutes a game as a freshman."

Wallace stays mostly inside while playing on his high school team, but gets to do more when he plays summer ball. He has good feet and can shoot the three.

"I'm the biggest dude in the league," Wallace explained as to why he has been a pure post player for Toledo High. "I like to step out and take the three. I like playing on the wing better." Wallace will wait awhile to make any kind of decision. He said he could wait until right before signing day, although he wants it done before the first game of his senior season.

We stuck mostly to basketball during our phone conversation, but Wallace has been quite open about his life and adjustment to basketball. There was a great story today by PHOG.NET.

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: I know that the Cats have been in contact, but they haven't gone hard after Wallace. Wallace knows he needs to prove himself more at the summer camps, and you can bet the Wildcats will be watching. If he can prove he is a legit post player, he could become a priority. If he spends too much time outside, the Cats (and other schools) will probably pass.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories