A Foothold in the West

When Sean Miller was hired at Arizona some questioned his lack of ties to recruiting the West Coast. Miller has recently proven that is a concern that shouldn't be on the mind of Wildcat fans in the least.

When Sean Miller took the job at Arizona he knew he had a rebuilding project at ahead of him. While many on the national scene felt Miller was a homerun hire, the one question many had was if he would be able to recruit the West Coast. Now on a high level recruiting run, Miller and his staff have proven that concern should no longer be there.

In Miller's first head coaching job at Xavier he never signed a player who hailed from west of the Mississippi River. As an assistant at NC State, Pittsburgh, and Miami-Ohio, he also never recruited a player from the West. That however would change in a big way upon his arrival in Tucson.

It started off right after Miller got the job at Arizona when he was able to land a commitment from Solomon Hill from the state of California. Hill had originally committed to Arizona and then de-committed following their coaching change. After his de-commitment, Hill committed to USC but did not sign, and then de-committed from the Trojans once Miller got the job. Then after talking to Miller, he shortly thereafter pulled the trigger for the Wildcats for the final time.

Then after luring Hill, Miller was able to land a commitment from Derrick Williams. Williams originally signed a letter of intent with USC, but after the coaching change from Tim Floyd to Kevin O'Neil, Williams decided to reverse course, and selected the Wildcats.

Getting those two commitments were big, but it wasn't like Miller and his staff really hit the recruiting trail from the beginning to get them. The question still remained if he could recruit the West Coast effectively.

In the 2010 class, Miller began to get his foothold established. After a de-commitment from Daniel Bejarano with Texas, Miller jumped in quickly and was able to snag him away from Arizona State. Also a late addition of California combo guard Jordin Mayes showed that the recruiting efforts were beginning to pay off out west.

While those four commitments were important, not one of them came from an elite five-star level prospect, however that was about to change.

The one player Miller and his staff focused on from day one was Nick Johnson. The Phoenix native was their number one priority for two years, and after an intense recruiting battle, they landed him in August. It marked the first top 40 West Coast kid that they snagged from all the schools in the area.

As if that wasn't enough, Miller and company then landed the top rated point guard on the West Coast in Josiah Turner. What was so impressive about them landing Turner was that they did it against Kansas and UCLA, the two teams that had done arguably the best job in recruiting the area over the past several years.

Landing Johnson and Turner in the 2011 class proved that the Wildcats had momentum, but on Saturday the floodgates opened. Arizona was able to secure the pledge of Grant Jerrett and his high school teammate Eric Cooper. Jerrett is a five-star prospect in the 2012 class while Cooper is considered one of the best point guards in the West in 2013.

By securing the pledge of those two, combined with the very strong recruiting haul from out West in 2011, the Wildcats and Miller have now clearly asserted themselves as a force recruiting in their backyard.

It has taken some time, and a NCAA Tournament streak fell by the wayside in the process, but the University of Arizona is once again rolling, and their recruiting on the West Coast is one of the reasons why things will only get better in Tucson.

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