2006 Focus: Chase Budinger

Jud Buechler is a name not too many people remember, but that's who most people compare Chase Budinger to - because of his exploits in basketball and volleyball.

Chase Budinger could go to college just about anywhere he wants – for volleyball. Ditto for basketball.

The two-sport star, who evokes comparisons to former basketball-volleyball standout Jud Buechler, still hasn't made up his mind whether he'll stick to basketball – or try and play volleyball as well at the next level.

``I'm still debating about that," said the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Budinger. "I have a lot of thinking to do."

One thing is for certain. Budinger can pick whichever one he wants.

Budinger is coming off a season at La Costa Canyon High (Calif.) in which he put up 27.9 points and 13.5 boards per contest. He's got a versatile game that some say is a cross between Buechler and another San Diego product, Luke Walton.

Budinger is athletic. He has a 40-plus inch vertical. He can rebound, run the court and he plays hard. He's grown recently and is now pushing 6-foot-7. He had 51 points against powerhouse Mater Dei this season and proved it was no fluke with 48 against Poway and 43 vs. Rancho Bernardo.

``He's just so tough," La Costa Canyon basketball coach David Cassaw said. "He's unique because of what he's able to do at his size."

``He's 6-7 and can jump out of the gym," Southern Cal All-Stars Pat Barrett said. "He can take the ball to the basket and also push it like a point guard. He handles it so well now that he can go coast-to-coast. He can shoot the 3 and also get up and dunk on you. His game has gone to a new level now that he's concentrating more on basketball."

Then you go to volleyball, where he had 17 kills, a trio of blocks and two aces to help lead the U.S. 2004 Boys' Youth Team to a championship at the NORCECA Continental Championships in Mexico City. Budinger earned Best Attacker and tournament MVP honors.

Long Beach State, UC-Irvine, UCLA and Pepperdine are among those who have offered a scholarship for volleyball. UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Kansas and USC are the schools he's seriously considering for basketball.

``I'm more passionate towards basketball," Budinger said. "That's the main one."

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: This may well be the Cats' top target. On a radio interview Olson said he was out to see the nation's best player. Although he couldn't mention Budinger by name it was known that he had been out to see Budinger during the time he was refering to. The fact that Arizona does not have a D-I Volleyball team may hurt, but they do have the best club program in the nation. It's hard to get a read on Budinger as he is one of the more elusive interviews in the class, but I expect the Cats to be in this hunt.

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