The Impact of Brandon Jennings

In case you missed it, the Arizona Wildcats received one of the biggest commitments from a basketball player in a number of years yesterday. Brandon Jennings, guard from Oak Hill Academy and rated the number one point guard in the class of 2008, was that commitment.

From the media to fans, everyone was questioning the direction of the Arizona basketball program and wondering where things were headed after another underachieving season. Things were looking bleak after the NCAA tournament loss to Purdue, and many of us didn't know what would happen with the program. Would there be a change at the top? Would there be a change within the assistant coaches? Would players like Chase Budinger test the NBA waters? Things were clearly up in the air for the Wildcat basketball program.

Things began looking better earlier this year with the hiring of Kevin O'Neill. The Cats needed help on the defensive end, and another coach that would make in-game adjustments, and with O'Neill, they're getting that.

Then came the commitments from four star recruits Emmanuel Negedu and Brendan Lavender. These were players that began soaring up the recruiting charts, and the Cats managed to snag both of them before the other top notch national programs began recruiting them heavily. Both of these guys, Negedu & Lavender, wanted to be Arizona Wildcats from the start of their recruiting process. They felt that Arizona was the program for them, something that Brandon Jennings also felt. Knowing that these three players "wanted" to be Arizona Wildcats is something that shows that this program is still in great shape.

Finally, perhaps the biggest move of them all throughout this off season was the commitment of Brandon Jennings. The Cats were near the top of his list since he stepped back from his commitment to USC; but over the past couple weeks, it looked like Arizona was going to fall short to programs like UCONN and Kentucky. Besides landing Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless over the last two years, it still looked like the Arizona program was going to miss out on that "special" player in the 2008 class. However, that wasn't the case. Jennings changed everything by committing to the Wildcats on May 22nd, 2007.

Jennings becomes that "next" prominent point guard at Arizona. Guys like Mike Bibby, Jason Gardner, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, Steve Kerr, Khalid Reeves, and now Brandon Jennings. While the expectations will be enormous for Jennings, he's the type of player that should have no problem living up to them. In fact, the chances of him exceeding those expectations should be quite good.

Brandon Jennings has been referred to anything from "special" to "fantastic" and everything in between. He's known as the kind of player that can come into a program and make them an instant national championship contender. With the possible supporting cast that the Cats may have with Jennings, guys like Bayless, Jamelle Horne, Jordan Hill, Laval-Lucas Perry, Emmanuel Negedu, Brendan Lavender, Fendi Onobun, and possibly Chase Budinger (If he stays for a third year), things should be looking up rather than down for the Arizona basketball program.

Another important aspect to associate with Jennings is the fact that he's extremely well liked throughout the basketball scene. Numerous players have mentioned that they love playing with the guy, along with knowing him on a personal basis. Jennings is said to have had direct impact on what schools certain players were looking at throughout their recruiting process. Throw in the fact that a number of current Arizona players have said that they like Jennings, and/or enjoy playing with him, and you've got yourself a great recipe for a successful future.

Time will tell in terms of the future of this program, but things are beginning to look brighter than the Arizona sun. Even if Brandon Jennings turns out to be a one year player for the Cats, things should still be fun…and Jennings, as he's already stated, expects it to be a great show.


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