Texas forward has 'great' visit

The Wildcats are wasting no time in bringing in top rated recruits for official visits. The Cats are not done with the 2004 class and they have already started to work hard on 2005. March is not yet over and already two top prospects have been in Tucson to check out the Wildcats.

Houston forward Fendi Onobun joins point guard Mario Chalmers in making official visits. Chalmers was on campus during the season, while Onobun was in Tucson this weekend.

Onobun's visit was "great" by his own admission, but he is in no rush to make a decision. As of now Arizona is his lone visit he has scheduled, but he is open to taking more as soon as possible.

"If some visits pop up then I'll take them, but as of now nothing is set up," Onobun said.

Right now he's booked up for all of April. He has a tournament every weekend that month, so taking more visits will likely have to wait until after the summer recruiting season. As of now he claims he has no leaders, but he lists the Wildcats, UCLA, Stanford, Texas, U Conn, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech.

"I'm still open," Onobun said. "I just have to weigh all my options."

Onobun says that Arizona is a "great fit" but when asked if it was certain to be there in the end he responded, "I don't know, you never know what can happen."

It is actually Onobun's second trip to Tucson. He made an unofficial visit with Jawann McClellan and Nic Wise in 2003 to watch the Wildcats' season finale against Oregon. Taking that trip made this weekend's visit less of a mystery.

"I've seen a lot of Arizona from my prior visit," Onobun said. "I've known the guys for over a year now. I met them early in 2003 when I visited."

Onobun's ties to the program run deep. He has known assistant coach Josh Pastner since middle school and plays for the Houston Hoops, the AAU team run by Josh's father Hal Pastner. Onobun admits his relationship with Pastner has made Arizona a little bit more appealing. Onobun insists that he can separate their friendship from the business of big-time college basketball.

"He's a coach, just like any other coach," Onobun said. "I've known him since seventh grade, so that is obviously a factor. He's a cool guy, I like him a lot."

Onobun had a busy few days in Tucson. He arrived on Thursday night and spent just a few hours with the assistant coaches before calling it a night.

Friday saw him having breakfast with the entire coaching staff before a long tour of the UA campus. Onobun met with academic advisors, plus members of the training staff. He had lunch with the coaches again before spending the rest of the day with the players.

He spent most of his time with Andre Iguodala and Channing Frye, but got to meet the entire team. It was his time with the players that made the biggest impression.

"I had a good time," Onobun confessed. "I met a lot of good people. There are a lot of friendly people in Tucson. The basketball team gets a lot of love. With no pro teams in town, they get all the love. They walk around and people treat them like superstars. They were even treating me great, like I was a part of the team."

Onobun loves the players and the coaches, calling them "cool" and "friendly". Although he is hesitant to reveal too much about where he would rank the Wildcats, he will admit the visit was "great" and that he loves Tucson and the team.

Another appeal could be the chance to play with his best friend. Martellus Bennett is a top-tier football recruit who is also being pursued as a basketball player. Arizona is one of two schools that will let him play both, and he and Onobun have discussed playing together.

"That's my guy," Onobun said of Bennett. "We're pretty tight. We've talked about playing together and that could still happen. Even if we don't go to the same school, we'd still be close."

Onobun indicated that Bennett has the Wildcats in his top five, "maybe even top three". Onobun did note that if he committed to the Wildcats before the fall, he would "go back out there" with Bennett when he took his official visit.

The two players are not only teammates, they are workout partners. The two lift weights several times a week, as well as playing loads of basketball. Both players are in the neighborhood of 6-7, 220, but Onobun admits that Bennett is stronger because of his football experience.

Onobun plays power forward for his high school team, but looks to play both forward spots at the next level. He has worked very hard on his perimeter game and as he adds those skills to his natural athleticism, he should rocket up the recruiting lists.

"I've improved on my outside game quite a bit," Onobun said. "I'm much more comfortable on the perimeter. I still have some work to do, but I'm much better than I was last year."

Onobun won't rank the Cats or any of his leaders, but reading between the lines it sounds like the Wildcats are in good shape. I wouldn't expect a verbal any time soon, but odds are the Cats will be right there until the end.

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