Red-Blue Notebook: on Miller's message, Ring of Honor, Omar's absence and more
Arizona men’s basketball tipped off its 2018-19 season with the annual Red-Blue game on Sunday in McKale Center. Festivities included adding two former players to the ring of honor, a dunk contest and the team scrimmage. Here’s a rundown of the most notable topics from the event.
Miller’s pregame speech
Every year, head coach Sean Miller opens the Red-Blue game with a message to the fans. At last year’s game, Miller’s speech was brief, as the team was trying to move past the circumstances of FBI investigation.
The 2018 version of Miller seemed much more upbeat and appreciative.
He repeatedly referred to Arizona fans as the “best fans in college basketball” and expressed gratitude toward them as well as athletic director Dave Heeke and President Dr. Robert Robbins for their continued support.
"When certain things aren't going as expected, it really is amazing how you learn who is in your corner and who isn't,” Miller said to the crowd.
2019 recruits catch the action courtside
Arizona already has three verbal commitments for the recruiting class of 2019, and two of them were in attendance on Sunday. Five-star guards — and UA commits – Nico Mannion and Josh Green took their official visits to the program and got to experience a game they’ll play in a year from now.
Also on official visits were five-star power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and four-star power forward Zeke Nnaji. Miller expects to sign four or five recruits for next season and those two players have Arizona on their list of potential schools to play for.
UA currently has the No. 8-ranked recruiting class for 2019 according to 247Sports, and adding either of the big men would bolster the front court.
Bayless and Ayton added to Ring of Honor
Former UA guard Jerryd Bayless returned to McKale and was inducted into the Arizona Ring of Honor during halftime of the scrimmage. Bayless played for Arizona during the 2007-2008 season – the same year Lute Olson took a leave of absence – and emerged as one of the nation’s best guards.
Bayless averaged 19.7 points per game and was selected No. 11 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Phoenix native still holds the program record with 30-plus points scored in three consecutive games. He recently came back to UA to finish his degree, and Miller said he expects Bayless to graduate in the spring.
As for the No. 1 NBA draft pick in DeAndre Ayton, he was inducted during halftime as well but could not make it out to Tucson for the ceremony. The McKale video board played a message from Ayton, who said he will come visit during a game this year for his formal ceremony.
Brandon Randolph made his presence known last year as a freshman during the Red-Blue game when he won the dunk contest over Ayton and Rawle Alkins. The now-sophomore reclaimed his title as he won the contest again, this time beating out freshmen Brandon Williams and Devonaire Doutrive.
The 6-foot-6 guard is the first player to win consecutive Red-Blue dunk contests.
All but one UA men’s basketball players took part in the festivities. The Belgian 6-foot-7 prospect Omar Thielemans missed the event due to “personal reasons," according to Miller, and it seems as though he won’t be playing anytime soon for the Wildcats.
“It's a longer-term thing," Miller said. "He missed today because of personal reasons, and I think we'll expound on that as we move through this week.”
The incoming freshman is a four-star recruit rated as the No. 36 small forward in the 2018 class.
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