Guard looking to impress

The UofA has traditionally done well with in-state players, but talented ones have been few and far between. The Cats have done great with Sean Elliott, Mike Bibby, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, but Arizona hasn't produced a ton of high quality players. That may be changing. Next year the Wildcats will welcome two Phoenix area players and there is a 2008 prospect getting a lot of attention.

Brendan Lavender would love to join Jerryd Bayless and Zane Johnson in Tucson. The 6-4 guard makes no bones about his interest in the Wildcats.

"I've always liked U of A," Lavender said. "I've always liked the guards there, and they have a good reputation of sending guys to the NBA. Plus, I've always like Coach Olson."

Although he is considered one of the best wings on the West Coast, he has not yet received a Wildcat offer. He's got a handful of offers from mid-major type programs and a lot of big time programs are taking notice.

"There are a few teams interested like USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Washington State, UConn, and Arizona," said Lavender. "Of course U of A is first…then UCLA, probably UConn, USC, and then Washington State."

Right now the Wildcats are still in the process of evaluating the Mountain View product. The coaches have been up to see him quite a bit and they will take a longer look at him this spring as he plays for the well-traveled Arizona Magic AAU program.

Lavender is optimistic that he could earn an offer from the Cats and it seems like he would be hard pressed not to accept a spot in the 2008 class.

"I kind of want to go the route of Jerryd Bayless, who went the route of going to the home state," Lavender explained.

Lavender's Mountain View team actually beat Bayless' St. Mary's team for the Arizona 5-A State title. Mountain View won their second consecutive title, but Lavender has nothing but respect for the future Wildcat.

"Jerryd's a stud, but when you get a team together that plays well with each other, I guess you can beat a stud," Lavender said. "He does a lot of things well, but we managed to take care of things we were supposed to, and got the job done."

Lavender is still mapping out his summer schedule, but would love to make a decision before the start of the school year.

He's a good shooter, with a decent handle and has garnered an unselfish reputation. Despite the fact that he's a good scorer, it is the other end of the court that he takes pride in.

"I take more pride in my defense in shutting down the opponent's best player," Lavender said. "I didn't play defense real well until I went to Mountain View, and once I get my defense going, I can feel that I'm going to do well offensively. It feels good whenever I shut someone down."

He is currently rated as a three-star shooting guard by, but with his passing ability many consider him a combo guard. He has enough upside that it is very possible that his rankings could rise with more exposure over the summer.

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