Basketball notebook: Sean Miller is done holding back
Not one, not two, not three, but four.
Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller took a page out of LeBron James’ book as he addressed and broke down his top-ranked 2019 recruiting class to the local Tucson media during his press conference.
When asked about his fifth and most recent commit Zeke Nnaji (ranked as the No. 8 power forward in his class) who has yet to sign his NLI, Miller laid out the four NLIs that Arizona has received, simultaneously refusing to talk about the player while also letting the local and national media members know that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
After months of turmoil, controversies, overhauls and uncertainty surrounding Arizona’s basketball program, Miller and his new staff seem to not only have outlasted the FBI-led storm, but to have stood on the edge of their leaking vessel, stared the storm in the face and whispered “we are the storm.”
“The moments you have in sports, I would say this is No. 1 on my list,” Miller said in his emotional and stirring opening statement.
“Going back to April, late March, the coaching staff we have here at Arizona in essence brought 11 players to our program in a seven-month window. That’s really hard to do, especially in climbing the mountain of adversity that we’ve sort of been responsible for climbing.”
In just the last couple of months, Miller has gone head to head with, and beaten, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas and UCLA in recruiting battles for three top-40 recruits in the 2019 class.
Miller and his staff walked into every living room over the past few months with a cloud of negativity, and they have not only convinced players and parents that Arizona will be fine, but they have also managed to persuade some of the most popular and influential players in the nation to commit their futures to the Wildcats, completely changing the outlook on a program in dire straits just six months ago.
“I’m certainly elated to be able to welcome the class that we have,” Miller said. “Today is very, very gratifying, because only a few of us know how hard the work was.”
Sean Miller also took time to break down and elaborate on his new signings and what they are going to bring to the Old Pueblo. From the coach himself:
Miller on Christian Koloko (No. 166 overall recruit in the 2019 class according to 24/7 Sports):
“Last year he played high school basketball with Devonaire Doutrive. We saw Christian play when we watched Devonaire in high school and we made him a priority from day one. He’s got great hands. He started playing basketball in middle school. He’s an international student that comes from a great family. I think the best is yet to come for him. His ability to catch the ball, his work ethic, his unselfish manner gives you somebody that can play the center position in the way the game is played today. He’s the furthest thing from just a plodder or a seven-foot project. His mobility on offense and defensive might be his greatest gift.”
Miller on Terry Armstrong (No. 58 overall recruit in the 2019 class according to 24/7 Sports):
“Terry brings a kind of toughness to our program that all of us would love to have as coaches. He also has great size for a wing and guard. It’s not that he has one thing that he does well; it’s the versatility, I think, that jumps off the page when you watch him. He’s in a program right now that’s playing against the best competition in America at the high school level. I’m anxious for him to have a great senior year. I think he’ll be able to come in and affect our program right away.”
Miller on Josh Green (No. 11 overall recruit in the 2019 class according to 24/7 Sports):
“Josh is somebody that we started recruiting many years ago. Josh can play, really, either wing spot. I think his shot is really developing; that’s probably the thing that’s happened the most for him the last four or five months, even though he had shoulder surgery. Just watching him shoot the ball, he’s really on a great track. I say that because everything else is really in place. He has a 6-foot-11 wingspan. He’s physically strong right now, he has a chance to be an excellent defensive player.”
Miller on Nico Mannion (No. 14 overall recruit in the 2019 class according to 24/7 Sports):
“Nico is somebody that walks in the door with great size and athleticism and, I think, a complete and total understanding of how to play the position. I wouldn’t consider him just a pass-first point guard. I would call him an all-everything point guard. He can score in transition, but he also knows how to get others involved. I give Nico a lot of credit, because he was the first to jump on board. True to being a great point guard, you lead from the front both on offense and defense, but oftentimes you lead off the court as well. He paved the way for others to join him. Josh Green and him are great friends because they play on the summer circuit together.”
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