Shakur to Honor Commitment

The nation's top point guard in the class of 2003 made his official visit to Tucson this past weekend and word on the street is that it went exceptionally well. After he returned to Wynnewood, PA, Cattracks had a chance to once again speak with his AAU coach, Greg Wright, who has been a close family friend of Mustafa for the better part of the last decade.

Shakur came into Tucson like every other recruit, wanting to see for himself how the team got along, how he might fit in, how the coaching staff was in their own offices and to get a feel for the campus/city life in general. As with most 17-year-old kids, the most important factor to Shakur was determining how he would fit in with his potential teammates.

Without question, he found that getting along with the likes of Hassan Adams, Andre Iguodala, Salim Stoudamire and Chris Rodgers was not going to be a problem. In the view of some of the spectators who watched him interact with the guys during Saturday afternoon's pickup game, Shakur and Adams particularly got along well. Not a surprise to anyone who knows Hassan since he's as charismatic as they come and once told Cattracks that he'd "recruit everyone" himself.

Once Mustafa got home, he had a chance to sit down with Coach Wright and discuss his visit briefly.

"I think he fell in love with it while he was down there," said Wright, the head coach of the powerhouse Hunting Park (PA) Warriors based out of Philly. "He was all smiles when he got off the plane."

Wright said that Shakur expressed to him his liking of the coaches and players at Arizona.

"He was very impressed with his visit", Wright said. "It won't make a difference at all that it's that far from home because he wants to be where he's most comfortable."

Regardless of how much Shakur liked his trip to Tucson and his conversations with Lute Olson, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner, Wright said that Shakur will do the right thing by honoring his word to North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek and following through with his scheduled visit to Raleigh on September 27-29.

"Mustafa is definitely a man of his word," Wright said. "His parents have taught him that and I've tried to do the same to a lesser degree. I'm from the Old School and I believe when you make a commitment to something that you stick by it and get it done. Mustafa is that way. If he makes a commitment his mind won't change."

Shakur, a 6-4, 170-pound "pure" point guard from Friends Central HS, got the full royal treatment during his three-day stay in Tucson. He took a full tour of the Arizona campus and had a chance to go out to a nice dinner with current Wildcat point guard Jason Gardner one night before joining up with the rest of the team a few hours later. Miles Simon, one of Arizona's ranking legends, was also in town to meet Shakur. The highlight of the weekend, however, came when Shakur took part in Saturday's informal pickup game session.

The top-ranked prep point guard showed that he was worthy of his elite status when he turned in an impressive performance while going up against Gardner the whole time. Unofficially, he had somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 points and a dozen or so assists while playing under control to a surprising degree considering his age and level of competition.

Someone in the crowd afterward yelled down to Miles Simon, asking what he thought of Shakur's game.

"He's really, really good," said the former Arizona All-American and 1997 Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. "Really good."

During the games, Shakur looked like the reincarnation of another former Wildcat All-American, Mike Bibby. Shakur ran the break to perfection, hit his streaking teammates with precision and basically made his team that much better based on nothing more than his presence. The special ones have that ability. Bibby had it, Simon had it, Gardner has it and Shakur would continue that lineage nicely if he was to commit to Arizona when all is said and done.

"When we were talking, I could tell that he wanted to tell me something about the trip," Wright said. "I asked him what was on his mind because I knew he wanted to tell me. He just smiled and told me how much he loved it down there. Then he said, ‘but I've got to take that other trip'.

"Arizona didn't hurt its chances this weekend, I know that for sure. He feels very strongly about coach Olson and Arizona. I can't tell you how impressed he was with everything down there."

All smiles.

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