Greg Hansen: Stoglin a rare talent in Tucson

2010-03-02T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Stoglin a rare talent in TucsonGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 02, 2010 12:00 am  • 

It would be nice to report that Santa Rita's state championship and Terrell Stoglin's excellence will launch a new way of high school basketball in Tucson.

And that Sean Miller will soon be able to hand-pick recruits from Tucson the way Washington's Lorenzo Romar reaches into the Seattle area for Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy.

But it's not happening.

The city's top college prospect can never play for Sean Miller because she is a girl: 6-foot-3-inch Marana High School sophomore Jamee Swan.

The top Tucson basketball prospect of the last decade was also a girl, Salpointe's Sybil Dosty, who played at Tennessee and Arizona State.

Tucson schoolboys have gone on to make notable NCAA tournament appearances for Oregon, Davidson, Utah State, New Mexico, Colorado State, UTEP, Texas Tech, Auburn and even Arizona State.

But after three decades of Pac-10 basketball, Sean Elliott remains the only Tucson-raised ballplayer who has started any of Arizona's 65 NCAA tournament games.

Of Tucson's younger male players, Amphi sophomore Tim Derksen, a coach's son with terrific basketball instincts, has a chance to be a Pac-10 player. But Derksen is maybe 6-2 and probably needs to add a few inches and considerable strength before he can attract recruiters from Top 25 programs the way Stoglin did at Santa Rita.

This was an unusually strong year for prep basketball in Tucson, which produced three Division I recruits: Stoglin to Maryland, Ironwood Ridge's Jan Maehlen to Pepperdine and Sabino's Matt Korcheck to UTEP.

It is, however, unfortunate that the timing and recent chaos of Arizona's basketball program prevented Stoglin from becoming a Wildcat. How good is he? Once Gary Williams teaches Stoglin to play defense the way it needs to be played in the ACC, Stoglin will be Kyle Fogg with more explosiveness and better ball-handling and jump-shooting abilities.

Santa Rita's state title is just the eighth by a Tucson team in the years since Arizona joined the Pac-10, which is reflected by the small number of Tucsonans who have gone on to play significant minutes at BCS conference schools. The brief roll call:

Pueblo's Fat Lever and CDO's Mike Redhair at ASU.

Sahuaro's Gary Lewis at Texas A&M.

Sunnyside's Jermaine Watts at DePaul.

Tucson's Troy Gaines at Auburn.

And CDO's Anthony Lever at Oregon.

But in an area with one million inhabitants, Tucson remains an underproductive rearing pond for college basketball. It is especially puzzling inasmuch as college basketball is the most popular game in town.

A lot of young Tucson ballplayers who grow up wanting to be the next Damon Stoudamire or Andre Iguodala have come up considerably short.

Unlike the basketball success of private schools and those in the affluent and middle-class suburbs of Phoenix, high school basketball in Tucson has been dominated by public schools in lower-economic classes.

With the exception of Brian Peabody's clubs at Salpointe and Ironwood Ridge, Tucson players rarely travel the hot-list summer AAU circuits, where résumés are built and scholarships earned.

Of the 10 state championships won in Tucson dating to 1970, resource-challenged Cholla, Pueblo, Sunnyside and Santa Rita have combined to win six of them. Unless I miss my guess, Amphi will join that list by winning the 4A-II state title next year.

"Our kids and their families don't have a lot," said Santa Rita coach Jim Ferguson, who has coached teams to six state title games in 12 years. "We've really had to scratch to make it work."

What Ferguson says mirrors the last 30 years of Tucson prep basketball.

When Lute Olson arrived at Arizona in the spring of 1983, Elliott had just completed his sophomore season at Cholla High School. It was a remarkable confluence of timing and good fortune.

We all waited for the next Elliott. We're still waiting.

Since Arizona joined the Pac-10, it has deployed 14 local ballplayers in various roles. Five were walk-ons.

In addition to Elliott, there have been seven Tucson scholarship players: Harvey Thompson of Cholla, Greg Cook and Deron Johnson of Sunnyside, David Haskin of Sahuaro, Mark Jung of CDO, D.J. Shumpert of Santa Rita and Troy Cooke of Flowing Wells.

Elliott scored 2,555 points. The others scored 1,428 points combined.

Alas, the two most talented players from that group, Cook and Johnson, had their UA careers cut in half. Cook, a JC transfer, missed 22 games for disciplinary measures, and Johnson missed two seasons for academic reasons.

Now the game has changed. The UA isn't waiting for the next Elliott as much as it awaits the next Stoglin.

It might be a while.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

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