Cats eyeing many big men

Arizona needs to add a couple of big men in the 2008 recruiting class. As the summer recruiting camps ended the Cats had six or seven top prospects identified. Three of those have since committed to other schools, but there are still a number of good prospects remaining.

Luke Babbitt, Andy Poling and Jeff Withey liked Arizona, but made early pledges to other programs. Although Withey will have friends and AAU teammates on the team, he chose to get away from the West Coast and play for Louisville.

For Babbitt it was a chance to play for the team he grew up watching. Babbitt grew up in Columbus before moving to Reno. The Buckeyes got in a little later than Arizona (and others) but made up ground for the talented power forward.

Both were small blows for the Cats. Withey had been to two consecutive Arizona elite camps and had become friends with future Wildcat Jamelle Horne. In fact, over the summer Horne said that he believed Withey wanted to commit.

Babbitt also attended the Arizona Elite Camp and there was word behind the scenes was that the Cats were the leader at one point, but could not overcome the family ties that came with Ohio State.

Poling also attended the Wildcat Elite camp, but chose to stay in the Pacific Northwest and play for Gonzaga.

It is never a good thing to miss out on well regarded big men, but the Wildcats still have options.

Currently three bigs appear to be at the top of the Wildcats' wish list.

The top rated of these players is Drew Gordon, a five-star big man from the Bay Area. Arizona is in on the 6-9 standout, but so are a lot of teams and the Cats may have some work to do.

Matt Simpkins, an athletic big from Sacramento has long listed the Wildcats. Simpkins reclassified to the 2008 class and should start garnering a lot more attention. He's 6-9, has a solid build, but excels when running the floor. The Cats are in good shape with Simpkins and he has made an unofficial visit to Tucson.

Emmanuel Negedu is another big man who likes to run the floor. Right now Arizona and Tennessee are his leaders and he has said that he will make a visit to Tucson. He's got a great frame and is very explosive.

Negedu has played against great competition at the Brewster Academy, but has yet to really be tested at the AAU level where he played with a 16 & Under team. Expect his stock to jump once he steps up and plays bigger name competition.

There are a number of other big men the Wildcats are considering, some have offers, while most are being evaluated.

Anthony Jones is a big man from Houston who some feel can be a wing, even at 6-10. In the few times I have seen him he appears to be a true post player. He has great length and could become a great shot blocker. It seems as if he will stay in the Lone Star State as Texas and Texas A&M seem to lead, but the Cats are in the picture.

Clarence Trent is another athletic forward, who may be able to play either the three or the four. He's got great explosiveness and works hard on the boards, but would probably need to bulk more if he winds up as a post player. A lot of schools are in the mix at this stage, including the Wildcats.

Steve Tchiengang is another athletic four-man on the Wildcats' radar screen. The 6-9 big man is relatively new to the game but has shown a lot of ability. The kid has a great work ethic and if he can show good development the Cats could make a push. It could be a little late as a host of Big 12 and Big East teams are already in on him.

A player who is just starting to make a name for himself is Terrance Jennings. The California native is playing for Mount Zion Academy in North Carolina. The 6-10, 230 pounder is a legit big man. He models his game after Amare Stoudamire and has drawn comparisons to Memphis' Joey Dorsey. He is one player the Wildcats will certainly continue evaluating.

As the spring recruiting events kick-off, expect the Wildcats to scout as many quality bigs as they can. Remember players like Jordan Hill and Kirk Walters were "discovered" during the summer before their senior years and a number of Wildcat standouts were not offered until the summer.

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