Cats welcome three to the fold

Any thoughts of Arizona slipping from a recruiting standpoint at the twilight of Lute Olson's career have been shot down as the Cats sign three big time players and wait on one more. In fact, the players signed their letters of intent based on the notion that the twilight of his career is several years away.

There was little drama as the Cats had their class signed, sealed and delivered before lunchtime.

"They are all 100%," Josh Pastner noted just after noon on Wednesday. "I just got back from turning in the last fax and it is okay to talk about them."

Pastner seemed to be bursting at the gills to discuss the three players the Wildcats have officially welcomed to the fold. Pastner, who was lead recruiter for two of the three signees, was not allowed to talk about the players until their letters of intent were signed and faxed in.

Officially the Cats signed SF Chase Budinger, PF Jordan Hill and PG Nic Wise. They are still waiting on word from F Lance Thomas of New Jersey who has not chosen a school and appears to be a spring signee.

"We are very excited about this class," said Lute Olson. "What we try to do is make the pieces fir the puzzle, and these guys really fit the puzzle well. In Chase, we have a guy capable of playing three positions. Nic is a proven winner at the point guard position and Jordan has a great upside." All told the Cats signed three diverse players, with diverse roles, skills and futures.


The headliner of the class is Chase Budinger, the 6-7 WF from La Costa Canyon high school outside of San Diego. Budinger was the last to verbally commit, but is the gem of the class. The five-star player is rated as the fourth best small forward in the nation and the 11th best player in the country.

"We are obviously ecstatic to sign Chase," Pastner said. "He has the ability to be one of the best to come through the program with his athleticism, his ability to score and the way he makes others better around him."

The long, athletic wing has the best chance of coming in right away and making an impact right away. Not only does he have the most developed game, but he'll join the program as seniors Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers depart.

For Budinger signing day was not nearly as momentous as his press conference in back in August when he told the world he would play for the Wildcats. Although he will celebrate making it official with a steak dinner with friends and family, the day was anticlimactic because signing the letter of intent was a mere formality after the verbal pledge in the summer.

"Committing was the bigger deal because once I gave my word it was a done deal," Budinger said. "I never go back on my word."


Nic Wise has seen his stock rise and fall since he committed to Arizona when he was just a freshman in high school. He went from one of the elite players at the time, to a player who dropped out of the top-100 by some recruiting services. has him rated as a four-star player and the 22nd best point guard in America, but other services have him rated as high as 25th overall.

What cannot be debated is the fact that Wise is a winner. He has led the Houston Hoops AAU team to numerous summer tournament titles. Even more impressive is the fact that he led Kingwood High School to the Texas 5A State Championship, winning MVP honors along the way.

"All you need to know is he is 99-11 as a starting point guard at the varsity level," Pastner said. "He is tough and makes the people around him better."

Wise, who has been committed for over three years never really wavered from his pledge. After visiting both Texas and Arizona he never took an official visit to any place other than Arizona.

The big knock on Wise is he hasn't grown like many thought he might. He is only 5-10, and has not gotten much taller from the day he told Lute Olson that he'd like to be a Wildcat. What he does have is nice floor sense, a great work ethic and that winning attitude.


Okay, Jordan Hill is not a mystery, but no one knows just how good he can be. What is known is that he is 6-10 and athletic. He's been compared to former Wildcat Channing Frye but is more physically developed at this point than the New York Knicks' center was when he signed with the Wildcats.

Hill is still refining his offensive skills, but is already a solid rebounder and a fantastic shot blocker.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Pastner said. "He can run and jump with the best of players his size. He's very quick off the floor and has great timing in blocking shots. He's still raw offensively but he's got a will to learn and a lot of determination."

Hill went from a virtual unknown to a top-100 player over the summer. He did not play high school basketball last year, but made a huge splash at the Kingwood Classic and continued to impress scouts and analysts all summer.

Hill is rated as a four-star recruit and the 19th best power forward in the nation. Overall has him rated as the 63rd best player in America.

"All three players fit extremely well," Pastner said. "They are high level players, have high level characters and have high basketball IQ's. They promise to keep this program at a high level for years to come."

Wildcat Authority Top Stories