Junior Spotlight: David Padgett

David Padgett is a consensus Top-25 player in the junior class of 2003 and recently made an unofficial visit to Arizona. Cat Tracks caught up with him at halftime of the Oregon State game for his thoughts on his visit, McKale Center and Arizona in general.

Chances are high that most Wildcat fans have never seen the majority of recruits play basketball before they arrive at Arizona. Well, here is a short, but very appropriate description of David Padgett's game from Prep Spotlight Magazine:

"Tall drink of water can shoot the ball well from mid range. Has good skills and likes to pump fake you on the baseline before hitting his fade away."

Think: Channing Frye's size with Luke Walton's turnaround, fade-away and Loren Woods' touch from outside. No wonder the kid is ranked so highly throughout the nation by a number of different recruiting analysts.

Padgett, a skilled 6-10 center from Reno, Nevada, was in attendance for Sunday night's Arizona-Oregon State game, and even though Cat Tracks talked to him and his father with Arizona trailing by 17 points at halftime, the Wildcat target seemed optimistic about all things Arizona.

"(The atmosphere in McKale) is great," Padgett said at halftime (imagine what he thought after witnessing the euphoria of the second half comeback). "Where I come from in Reno it's not even close to this. The place is sold-out and the fans are into the game the whole time so it's great here."

There has been some speculation on the West Coast that Padgett's choice of colleges will come down to Arizona and Stanford, where he has ties to both schools. David's father, Pete, is his high school coach and has also served as an assistant coach at division one UC-Santa Barbara and he's around to offer advice and help during the recruiting process.

"Having been on both sides of the fence as a high school coach, college coach, player and dad, I'm just here in support of him," the elder Padgett said. "I'm not really here in a factual gathering thing, we just decided to come down and get a feel for what goes on here during the season and have an opportunity to watch a game in here during the conference season.
"A lot of kids nowadays are taking trips in the fall and don't get a chance to experience this. Our primary objective more than anything else was to get him to come down and sit and be involved in a big time college atmosphere."

David says that commiting anywhere won't be something that happens anytime soon. He'd prefer to wait until the fall of his senior year before deciding because, as he says, "a lot of things could happen between now and then". However, he does seem to be well organized and in control of the entire recruiting process and has even narrowed his list of potential schools down to five.

"Here (Arizona) obviously," he said. "Then Stanford's been after me pretty tough; North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas are probably my top five."

The tradition of excellence at Arizona that has been built during coach Lute Olson's tenure has not been lost on either Padgett. Both say that Olson and his reputation for winning and player development are known qualities and something that David looks for when choosing which school to attend.

"Coaching is the most important thing," David said. "Then how well I get along with the players and the support of the town--which I don't think will be a problem wherever I go--but basically how comfortable how I feel with everybody."

With David not set to graduate until 2003, he wouldn't even be able to play college ball until the current crop of freshmen are juniors. In Arizona's case, players like Channing Frye, Isaiah Fox and Andrew Zahn would all be veterans by the time he got to campus (again, IF he chose to become a Wildcat).

"They have pretty good post players right now," David said. "But by the time I got here they'd be juniors and I'd be a freshman but I think I would fit in pretty well depending on how I do at my position."

Although playing high school basketball in Reno, Nevada will never be known for the level of competition a place like Chicago or Los Angeles offers, Padgett has still been very impressive this season. So much so that he is listed as the No. 1 center on the West Coast from the junior class by most recruiting experts.

His team lost 10 seniors to graduation last year and is very much like this Arizona team in that it relies on juniors and other first-year varsity players very heavily. Padgett is drawing double and triple-teams from opposing defenses but is still putting up his share of good numbers.

And your share and my share and everyone else's share for that matter.

"He's averaging 25 points a game then about 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots a game," his dad and head coach said. "He's got six triple-doubles already this year in 17 games and that's with three or four guys on him every game. He's gonna have a heck of a year."

Sounds like he already has.

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