Lute's Recruits: 1986

By 1986 things were already cranking for the program. The team had their second tournament performance and things were moving in a positive direction. Recruiting was also going good as Olson was attracting solid class after solid class.

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.


While the class didn't make waves at the time, in hindsight this one is solid. Buechler and Tolbert were longtime NBA players, while Mason was a nice four-year contributor.

The Class

Jud Buechler 6-7 SF, Poway, CA; Poway HS
Harvey Mason 6-4 SG, Shadow Hills, CA; Crecenta Valley HS
Tom Tolbert 6-8, Lake Wood CA; Cerritos CC

The Stats:
Retention Rate: 100%
Starts: 158
NBA Players: Two

Jud Buechler
A two-year starter for the Wildcats who was All-Conference and left the program in the top-15 in scoring. He started at both forward spots, though he was a better player on the wing.

He started every game his final two seasons and averaged 12.9 ppg as a starter. For his career he averaged 8.7 ppg and 4.9 rpg.

As good as his college career was, few thought he'd have the long, successful NBA career that he did. He was actually drafted by Seattle but traded on draft day to New Jersey for not drafting Dennis Scott so that Orlando could draft Scott and Seattle could select Gary Payton.

Buechler played 13 seasons for seven teams, but made his name by winning three rings with the Chicago Bulls.

Harvey Mason
Mason had an up and down career with the Wildcats. He was a solid role player his first three seasons and finally won a starting job his senior year only to have it cut short after a knee injury.

Was an amazing scorer out of high school, but was more known for his defense. May be best known for composing the song "Wild About the Cats" which was a local hit during the Cats' run to the Final Four in 1988.

Mason played in 115 games in his four years, starting 25. He averaged 4.0 ppg during the span.

Pursued music after graduation and is now an acclaimed record producer in Southern California having worked with a number of jazz and r&b standouts. He has worked with the likes of Whitney Houston, Brittney Spears, Justin Timberlake and the Spice Girls.

Tom Tolbert
One of the most colorful players in the history of the program, Tolbert was a constant source of entertainment and aggravation for Lute Olson. Tolbert originally played a Cal-Irvine and transferred to Cerritos after one season. He verbally committed to Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV before changing his mind and attending Arizona.

Tolbert was a two-year starter, averaging 14.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg. His best game cam in the 1988 Elite Eight when he scored 21 points and dominated North Carolina's All-American J.R. Reid to lead the Wildcats to the Final Four.

Tolbert was drafted in the second round of the 1988 NBA Draft by Charlotte and went on to play seven seasons with the Hornets, Warriors, Magic and Clippers. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. He left on his own accord to pursue a career in the media.

Tolbert hosts a popular sports talk show in the bay area and is a color commentator for ESPN's NBA coverage.

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