Hoops recruiting update

It has almost become redundant to say that a Wildcat recruiting class is taking strange twists and turns. At this point you can say that about every class. Heck, you can say that about most schools. With just a few months until signing day, the 2007 class still has a lot of playing out to do.

In the past few years Arizona has dealt with de-commitments, late commitments and international players. They have added five-star players, two-star players and everything in between. They have had players whose parents wanted them elsewhere, players whose parents wanted them there and players whose parents stayed out of the process. They've had players turn pro and added players no one else had heard of.

The 2007 class has shaped up the same way. They have dealt with the de-commitment of Jerryd Bayless and the emergence of guys like Laval Lucas-Perry and Zane Johnson. Jamelle Horne committed before he blew up and Alex Jacobson committed when he was more a rumor than a known commodity.

As the current crop of Wildcats start to filter in the class that will come to Tucson a year from now is still unfinished. The Cats have four players verbally committed and officially have four scholarships available, but realistically can add five or six players in the class.

Just how many scholarships are there? The Cats will have the scholarships from graduating seniors Ivan Radenovic, Mustafa Shakur and Kirk Walters available, plus the one freed up when Jesus Verdejo transferred out of the program. All indications are that they are preparing for the departure of Marcus Williams to the NBA and will use that scholarship.

I have heard rumblings that the Cats will consider offering a sixth scholarship if they get the feeling in the early part of the season that anyone is not happy. The Vancouver trip gives them an early chance to see if there are any unhappy players and if it seems a player may depart, then they will not get caught without a full compliment of scholarship players.

So who do they want? From what I have gathered the Cats have four players left on their wish list. This is not set in stone as the team has often been able to unearth players or hide their interest in players until late in the process.

Right now the Cats seem to be interested in Jerryd Bayless, J.J. Hickson, Kyle Singler and Solomon Alabi. The plan seems to be to add one more, but if Bayless committed, and a player appears to be leaving the program, then it seems almost certain that the Cats would take Bayless and a big. With Alex Jacobson already committed and a host of elite 2008 bigs very interested in the Wildcats, it does not look likely that the Cats would take two bigs if the scholarships were available.

So who are these guys? Jerryd Bayless Bayless is the player the Wildcat fans are the most familiar with. The guard from Phoenix has been on the radar screen for years and was, of course, committed to the Cats for over six months.

Bayless is an explosive, athletic combo-guard who is an elite player. Although he is still working on his game, few players in the class have his explosiveness and the ability to put the ball in the hole. He can shoot, dunk and score in-between. Bayless is a good rebounder for a player his size and can get it done on the defensive end. With some work he could be a very nice defender.

Bayless has also been the subject of numerous rumors. From the time he committed to Arizona, rumors of other teams remaining involved surfaced. In the spring Bayless re-opened the commitment and Texas was seen as the surefire destination. Soon after that word of a re-commitment to Arizona was the hot rumor in Las Vegas. As of now both Arizona and Texas are in the thick of things, as are Georgia Tech, Washington and Kansas.

Kyle Singler Singler is more of a small forward than a big, but he has the size and skill to log minutes in the post. He's similar to a Luke Jackson, in that he can score from the outside and board from the inside. He's tall, and has an amazing feel for the game. He is fundamentally sound, but is more athletic than he gets credit for.

Many have felt Singler was a lock for either Duke or UCLA, but they are not the only programs involved. He will visit Arizona in mid September and Kansas proved they are a player by getting a "Late Night in the Phog" visit the second week in October. Washington is also in the picture.

J.J. Hickson Hickson may be the best fit from a need standpoint. With the seven-footer Jacobson already in the mix, the Cats could use an athletic, big four to put next to him. Hickson is well put together, but can also get up and down. He's a solid low-post performer, who is aggressive and a hard worker.

Hickson is in the 6-9, 220 range and scouts like how he has seemed to improve over the course of the summer. The Cats joining Florida, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Georgetown, Illinois and Kentucky seem to be the teams still in the hunt, although Hickson's recruiting has taken a number of twists and turns throughout the spring and summer.

Solomon Alabi Alabi is a seven-footer who has seen his stock sky rocket over the summer. Still developing, the Nigerian native has gotten better and better each event that he performed in. He went from a relative unknown to a four-star center who's rated as the eighth best player at that position. Alabi has been in Nigeria since mid-July but will be getting a ton of attention when he gets back in the states.

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