Lute's Recruits: 1983

Wildcat fans often debate which of the Wildcat basketball teams are the best. We wanted to take that a step further. We wanted to see which of Lute Olson's recruiting classes were the strongest. This time out we look at the first class recruited by Olson at Arizona.

We are going to look at classes based on a number of criteria. Some of the things we will look at include how well they played at Arizona, how many players were retained and how many players in each class made the NBA.


Olson's first class may be one of his best. Despite getting a late start and having limited visits available, Olson was able to put together a class that had a 100% retention rate and had all three players drafted by the NBA.

The Class

Steve Kerr, 6-3, G Pacific Palisades (Pacific Palisades HS)
Eddie Smith, 6-5, SF Wichita, KS (Dodge City CC)
Michael Tait, 6-2, G
Pete Williams, 6-7, PF Mt. Harbour, CA (Nogales HS/Mt. Sac CC)

The Stats:
Retention Rate: 75%
Starts: 256
NBA Players: Three

Steve Kerr
Kerr was a player that no one else really wanted. He had a few smaller California schools offering scholarships, but no other Pac-10 teams wanted the former UCLA ball boy.

The rest is history.

Kerr became a three-year starter for the Cats and helped lead them to the 1988 Final Four. Generally considered one of the best three-point shooters of all time. Kerr hit 57.3% of his threes in college. He was a second-team All-American after his senior season. He averaged 11.2 ppg for his career and dished out 443 assists.

He was drafted in the second round of the 1988 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and had a long, stellar career that included five world championships with the Bulls and Spurs.

Eddie Smith
Maybe the least heralded of the three, Smith still had a great Wildcat career. Smith, a junior college transfer, was a key component of the first Tournament team of the Olson era. He may be best known for his game winner against ASU where the Cats erased an seven-point lead in under a minute to beat their rivals.

He had a stellar senior season where he averaged 16.5 points and over 6.6 rebounds a game. Smith was a late round draft pick of the Denver Nuggets in 1985 but failed to make the team out of training camp. He played overseas for a few seasons before retiring to get into education consulting.

Michael Tait
Tait came in and was a starter his freshman year where he averaged 7.1 ppg. He played in just four games his sophomore year before transfering to Clemson. He was a role player his first year with the Tigers and then scored 12.9 ppg as a senior in the ACC. Tait was fifth round selection of the Seattle Supersonics in the 1987 NBA Draft.

Pete Williams
Olson will give Williams the lion share of the credit for turning around the program. Williams is still seen as the program's best rebounder and his 9.2 rebounds per game average is staggering.

Williams was an undersized power forward whose leaping ability and great timing made it easy for him to collect missed shots. He was also an effective scorer, averaging 13.4 ppg for his two years in Tucson.

Williams was drafted by the Nuggets and played parts of two seasons with Denver before having a long career in Europe and Turkey. Williams played until his late 30's before retiring to come back to Southern California.

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