When former Arizona Wildcats player and assistant coach Matt Brase hits the airport to pick up a new player for his D-League club, there's often a stopover on the way back.
As an assistant coach for the Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Vipers, who have made the D-League finals with the help of former Wildcat guard Kyle Fogg, Brase's job is partly to get the new players quickly acquainted with the system of the Houston Rockets' affiliate.
"Every time a guy comes down here, I'll get him in the gym, walk him through a couple of plays at night," Brase said. "The next day, we'll have a shootaround and then it's game time."
That's the way of life for the Vipers, who have dealt with a dizzying array of transactions while losing several players to the NBA. Among them was leading scorer Andrew Goudelock, who signed a Lakers contract when Kobe Bryant went down earlier this month.
"He was out on the court warming up 30 minutes before the game when our coach (Nick Nurse) walked out and told him, and he had a big smile on his face," said Brase, the grandson of former UA coach Lute Olson. "But that's what our job is. I'm excited for him."
In all, the Vipers have had 26 players pass through this season, and only three of them have stayed the entire time.
One of those is Fogg, who began the season as a starter and now plays a reserve role.
Fogg averaged 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds during the regular season and is averaging 2.8 points a game in the playoffs so far.
"Kyle's the type of guy who keeps fighting," said Brase, who served as a UA assistant coach during Fogg's freshman season of 2008-09. "We kind of use him as a defender, pressuring the ball and getting up into guys. He's also a really good spot-up three-point shooter for us."
The D-League finals between the Vipers and the Santa Cruz Warriors will open tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Santa Cruz, Calif. A second game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at McAllen, Texas, and, if necessary, a third and final game would be played Monday at 5 p.m. All games will be air on CBS Sports Network.
Tulane transfer unlikely
Arizona has expressed interest in graduate transfer Josh Davis of Tulane, according to Davis' high school coach, Robert Clemons. But Clemons, of Raleigh (N.C.) Athens Drive High School, said Gonzaga or San Diego State is his likely destination.
"I know he was interested in (Arizona) ... but a lot depends on those two incoming freshmen," Clemons said, referring to forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Hollis-Jefferson is projected as a small forward while Gordon may play either small or power forward. Clemons said it didn't matter where the 6-foot-8-inch, 215-pound Davis played, but that "he wants to be in position to be successful."
UA has two open scholarships available for next season now that Grant Jerrett has opted to turn professional.
Early draft prospects
ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford put Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson on a list of 10 incoming freshmen who are prospects for the 2014 NBA draft.
After watching the Nike Hoop Summit last weekend, Ford said Gordon was "kind of a tweener" who lacks elite size at power forward and adequate perimeter skills at small forward, while also saying "but few players combine the athletic skills he possesses with the motor he displays."
Ford called Hollis-Jefferson a "sleeper first-rounder" who showed his value at the Hoop Summit game with defense, scoring and rebounding.
"Hollis-Jefferson isn't a particularly polished offensive player, but he's a hound defensively," Ford wrote. "He can guard multiple positions, rebounds and plays with great athleticism and toughness."
• With five former players in this season's NBA playoffs, the Wildcats now have averaged 5.8 players in the postseason in each of the past five seasons.
• Saying Arizona could be a "truly dominating team in the West," ESPN's Joe Lunardi says the Wildcats are a clear early choice for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed next season.
• USC center Dewayne Dedmon announced he would turn professional.
On StarNet: Follow UA hoops on Bruce Pascoe's blog at: azstarnet.com/pascoe
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