Recruiting Update: Big News for 2003

The question has been out there for months regarding how many scholarships Arizona would use on the class of 2003 recruits. Now we know the answer. And while it may or may not surprise you to learn the number, some of the new names in the hunt for those scholarships definitely will.

Cat Tracks has recently learned that Arizona will most likely only use two of its remaining three scholarships for the class of 2003. Surprisingly, it now appears that the Wildcat coaching staff will take ONLY ONE of the following three super prospects: David Padgett (6-11 C, Reno), Ndudi Ebi (6-9 WF, Houston) and Brian Butch (6-11 C, Appleton, Wisconsin).

This is stunning news because it has long been believed that if Arizona were to only give out two scholarships next year, it would go with its top two priorities: Padgett and Ebi. Now it seems like that will not be the case.

Obviously, there are still other "bigs" in the running as well. The list includes Harrison Schaen (6-9 F/C, Santa Ana, CA.), Ekene Ibekwe (6-10 F/C, Los Angeles) and possibly even Chris Taft, a 6-10 center from New York. Don't be surprised if Arizona takes a serious look at the highly regarded Taft. He continues to mention Arizona among his list of favorite schools.

But getting back to the Padgett, Ebi, Butch development, expect the first to commit to get the scholarship and form half of what will almost definitely be a dynamite two-man class. The other scholarship will now most likely go to a point guard. With Arizona's reputation as being "Point Guard University", most of the elite prospects at that position in the country at least list the Wildcats among their top four or five schools. This year will be no different in terms of attracting the best of the best.

His name hasn't been mentioned a lot previously on Cat Tracks, but publisher Doug Carr has learned through his vast network of sources that Arizona is jumping head-first into the Mustafa Shakur sweepstakes.

Shakur, a 6-3 point guard from Philadelphia, is considered by most experts to be the No. 1 lead guard in the nation. According to various sources (I know this sounds lame, but you'll have to trust me that these are actual people), Shakur is "considerably interested" in Arizona. Cat Tracks will be speaking with Shakur in the very near future to get our readers more information on this east coast super talent.

Other point guards that Arizona is taking serious looks at are 6-1 Ayinde Ubaka (Oakland High), 6-3 Troy Aaron (Lake Charles, LA.), 6-2 Darrin Clarke (Minnetonka, MN, Hopkins High), 6-1 Lawrence McKinsey (Minneapolis, St. Patrick's High) and 6-1 Marcus Williams (Los Angeles, Crenshaw High).

Aaron is a latecomer to the Wildcats' wish list but he is quickly raising his stock since the spring has started. Apparently, coach Lute Olson and his staff are already "very involved" in the recruitment of Aaron. Clarke, a high school teammate of Kris Humphries at Hopkins High in Minnetonka, has been on Arizona's radar for over a year and he is a legitimate prospect. The word on Williams is that his parents are strongly suggesting that Marcus play for Arizona but there might not be a mutual interest there, unfortunately. Expect Williams to wind up at UCLA. As for McKinsey, Cat Tracks will also be talking with him as soon as possible to find out more about his story.

The reasoning behind signing only two players for next year's class is simple. The staff believes that it would be better off saving the extra scholarship for the class of 2004 otherwise there would be none available, barring transfers and early defections, of course. The strategy is now to sign one "big" and one "little". Either way, expect Arizona to come away with one of the best two-man classes in recent memory.

*Other Notes (On the road again):

Arizona coaches Lute Olson and Rodney Tention are on one of the most jetlag-worthy recruiting trips of the year today (Tuesday). After going to see sophomore super prospect Robert Swift (7-0 center) in Bakersfield, California yesterday, the two coaches decided to take the travelling up a notch today.

It started this morning when they met with Ekene Ibekwe in Los Angeles for a short visit. Afterwards, they flew to Reno, Nevada to spend time with Top Priority (yes, he deserves capital letters) David Padgett and then they were heading to Oakland to meet with Ayinde Ubaka. That's called getting the most out of a day.

On Friday, Tention will travel with new assistant coach Josh Pastner on a trip to Houston, where they'll make a stop by Ndudi Ebi's home. With only two coaches allowed out on recruiting trips at any one time, that leaves Olson and associate head coach Jim Rosborough at home this weekend for Brian Butch's official visit. Since Roz is Butch's primary recruiter and Olson is the ultimate closer, that scenario seems to make the most sense.

In other recruiting news, Harrison Schaen is now scheduled to make his official visit to Arizona on May 5th and 6th (Sunday and Monday) instead of May 3rd. The family had something come up and had to delay the visit by 48 hours.

National Top 10 prospect Ndudi Ebi will be in town that same weekend, but his dates are May 4th and 5th. Expect plenty more recruiting news in the days and weeks to come here on

{TheThrill22 can be reached via e-mail at}

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