Trevor Ariza may be a new name to some recruiting fans, but rest assured major Division I coaches are all well aware of just who he is.
The 6-7 junior wing forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester HS is already familiarizing himself with the recruiting process and some of the schools that he's interested in. He was one of the guests of honor at "Midnight with the Heels" last weekend and also traveled eight miles up the 15-501 to tour Duke University on Saturday night. Both Tobacco Road schools are showing a great deal of interest in Ariza, and both basketball staffs are going to be watching his progress very closely this season.
So, what makes Ariza such a special player? What makes him worthy of all of this early attention?
It's his skills, it's his ability to handle the ball on the break, it's his height, it's his athleticism and it's his potential.
Ariza is able to combine all of these things and roll them into a 6-7 or 6-8 frame -- and there aren't too many kids who can do that.
Want more? Well, here ya' go -- we contacted two well-known college assistant coaches to get their take on Ariza. And remember, the NCAA prohibits coaches from commenting on unsigned prospects -- so we have to keep their identities on the down-low.
"Trevor Ariza is the type of kid that has that look," said one assistant. "He has the look of a star. At his height, he's able to combine a great skill level with good athleticism, and usually with most of the good wing forwards, it's an either/or thing. They either have great athleticism and little skills or lots of skills and they can't jump over a telephone book."
The other assistant made references to Ariza'a potential.
"I think he may become one of the better ten prospects in the nation if he can combine his outside game with more of an inside game," he said. "He's nearly 6-8 and if he continues to grow and shows us some additional scoring moves on the interior, then he'll be a commodity. You don't see many skilled, versatile athletes who can score inside and outside. David Lee (Florida freshman) was great at combining those things and Ariza could ultimately be that type of player."
Dinos Trigonis, a well-known AAU coach and producer of FullCourt Press, a southern California based recruiting service, knows full well of Ariza's game. And why? Well, he's his summer coach, and it's likely that he's seen him in action more than anyone else.
"Trevor's combination of size and skill level is what makes him such a high level recruit," said Trigonis, who accompanied Ariza on his weekend trips to UNC and Duke. "He just played so well this summer and with his size and body, I just think he's far from peaking."
Trigonis told us that Ariza stands at 6-8 but that he's expects him to top off around 6-9, which would make him a difficult match-up for wing players and power forwards. Even more than he already is.
"He's kind of a jack of all trades," added Trigonis. "He just shoots and handles so well and he's athletic enough to flush the ball in traffic. He's in the Eddie Jones mold."
And that jack of all trades is being recruited by some major schools across the country including Florida, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, USC, UCLA, Syracuse, Cal, Texas and handfuls of others.
Trigonis, who ranks California players, says that Ariza is the second best junior in the state, behind only Leon Powe, a strong power forward from Oakland.
While it's still very early in the recruiting process for Ariza -- sources close to him have suggested that scholarship offers from Florida, USC and possibly UNC are already on the table. And we expect many more to follow -- that is -- if they want a chance at the jack of all trades.