2012: Top of the class
By now, most of the Arizona faithful and college basketball fanatics know of the Wildcats’ heralded 2012 recruiting class. Forward Grant Jerrett paved the way as the first signee and guard Gabe York and forward Brandon Ashley followed, making the 2012 class the best in the country, according to ESPN.
Now with center Kaleb Tarczewski on board, a No. 1 class becomes more elite.
“I was real confident that he was going to come,” Ashley said of Tarczewski’s announcement. “Having him on board with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, it just makes our class that much better.”
Height/Weight: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds
School: Findlay College Prep
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
ESPN Ranking: No. 4
Date Committed: Aug. 29, 2011
Other offers: UCLA, Kentucky, Oregon
Ashley’s one of the most athletically gifted players in the 2012 class. A 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, he can do damage in the post while taking his defender off the dribble.
He’s developing his game even further at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep, where he’s been working on his jump shot as he expects to play more small forward at Arizona. His versatility and upside is what separates him from other recruits.
“I may not be the best player out there but I can take you to the post or hit the jumper so I’ll give you a big wing man when I get up there,” Ashley said. “I’m kind of a hybrid.”
Unless he bulks up considerably, Ashley’s long-term future is at the three. He sees himself as a future Carmelo Anthony who can do damage both in the post and in the mid-range.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Melo and I’ve always wanted to model my game after him,” Ashley said. “I can’t really say that I’m there yet.”
While Tarczewski is getting all the hype right now, Ashley is the gem of the class. Before it’s all said and done, he has the best chance to make the strongest impression at Arizona.
Height/Weight: 7-foot, 220 pounds
School: St. Mark’s School (Mass.)
Hometown: Claremont, N.H.
ESPN Ranking: No. 6
Date Committed: Oct. 31, 2011
Other offers: Kansas, UNC, Kentucky
To the untrained eye, Tarczewski is your average lanky, immobile 7-foot center. While he is seven feet tall and 220 pounds, Tarczewski boasts athleticism uncharacteristic for a player his size.
“He’s big and strong but at the same time he’s agile and very athletic,” Ashley said, who’s seen Tarczewski play in the AAU circuit.
His athleticism is almost a consolation price, however. It’s with his back to the basket that Tarczewski will do his most damage at the college level.
“He’s a more upright guy,” said ESPN Analyst Dave Telep. “He’s a true back-to-the-basket player.”
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 170 pounds
School: Orange Lutheran High School
Hometwown: Orange, Calif.
ESPN Ranking: No. 36
Date Committed: July 10, 2011
Other offers: Louisville, Washington, Marquette
With all of the big men and top 10 recruits in the class, the 6-foot-1 York is the forgotten player. He doesn’t go unnoticed on the court, however.
York has a pure stroke that ranges beyond the college three, but he’s not only a shooter. York has Nick Johnson-like hops which allows him to finish at the rim against bigger players.
“He’s crazy athletic,” Ashley said. “He’s a good shooter. Always makes the right play. He gets it done. He’s a great player too.”
While York is listed as a shooting guard, he’ll most likely have to learn the point guard position to play major minutes at Arizona.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-10, 220 pounds
School: La Verne Lutheran
Hometown: La Verne, Calif.
ESPN Ranking: No. 9
Date Committed: Nov. 28, 2010
Other offers: UCLA, ASU, USC, UNLV
Jerrett paved the way for the 2012 class, as he was the first to commit in late November of 2010. He helped recruit both Ashley and York — he’s also teammates with 2013 commitment Eric Cooper Jr. — but he’s more than just a recruiter.
Jerrett will give the Wildcats a skilled four-man who can face up and play with his back to the basket. His La Verne Lutheran High School coach and former UA point guard Eric Cooper Sr. said Jerrett is the perfect No. 2 option on a great team.
“He’s real fundamental. He’s not really the superstar player,” Cooper Sr. said. “He’s more like a Lamar Odom, the sidekick that’s really, really good and doesn’t mind being the second option or the third option. But the third option could score 40 points on every given night.”
Although most Top 10 guys like Jerrett are either one-and-done or two-and-done players, Jerrett is expected to be loyal to the Wildcats and get his degree.
“He’s a four-year guy,” Cooper Sr. said. “He’s not thinking about one-and-done or any of that. He’s going to get his degree and that’s what his goal is.”