Well before Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett were named to Wednesday's McDonald's All-American Game, Ashley offered an assist to his future Arizona Wildcats teammate.
He moved to Nevada for his senior year of high school.
That made it even more likely that Jerrett would pick up the Gatorade Player of the Year award in California, according to Jerrett's coach at La Verne Lu-theran, Eric Cooper.
"Once Brandon left, I didn't see anybody else who could compete for it," said Cooper, a former Wildcat player.
Sure enough, Jerrett won the award, though ultimately he might have done so no matter who was around.
While Ashley is having a strong season for Las Vegas-area powerhouse Findlay Prep after leaving Oakland's Bishop O'Dowd, Jerrett averaged 23.3 points and 10 rebounds per game to lead a depleted Lutheran team to the Southern California Division IV regional semifinals.
Together, Jerrett and Ashley now will become the first duo of Arizona Wildcats signees in the McDonald's Game. UA has had 15 previous McDonald's players - 11 who signed with the Wildcats out of high school - but never more than one in a recruiting class.
Another UA signee, center Kaleb Tarczewski, is ineligible for the McDonald's selections because he is a fifth-year senior but will join the two for the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game next month. Tarczewski was also named to the Nike Hoop Summit on April 7.
With Jerrett leading the way this season, Lutheran limped into the playoffs despite having standout guard Eric Cooper Jr. (a 2013 Wildcat commit) shaking off a broken finger, a big man out because of grades and a key reserve with a broken wrist. Two junior varsity players were called up just to fill out the bench.
"Considering all the things that were happening with the team I think it went better than expected," coach Cooper said. "We were down to six kids throughout the playoffs, so we tried to patch everything up. Eric went out and played anyway, and we kept moving."
In the end, Lutheran nearly advanced to the finals, losing 53-52 to Los Angeles Price High School only after Jerrett uncharacteristically let a pass slip through his hands that might have led to a game-winning layup in the final seconds.
It was a sour ending to an otherwise decorated season. Jerrett was not only California's Player of the Year but also named first-team all CIF and was named to both the McDonald's and the Jordan Brand Classic national all-star games.
"He had a great season considering all things," Cooper said. "He stayed consistent throughout the whole thing."
While Jerrett is projected to be a power forward or center for the Wildcats, he expanded his offensive range as a senior - and his ability to shake defenses.
"He did a lot of three-point shooting, and was able to pull up on the fast break and hit shot after shot," Cooper said. "He'd hit everything, have monster dunks and played really aggressively. The last two years there were times where I'd go 'Look at other scenarios - let's not just go to Grant.' Now it doesn't matter if he has two people on him or one."
Ashley had a different challenge at Findlay Prep. Instead of having to fight off double-or triple teams, he had to adjust from being a focal point to one of many focal points on a team that annually produces high-major prospects.
Findlay, which will play in the ESPN national championships this weekend in Washington D.C., was also the home of UA freshman guard Nick Johnson for the previous two seasons. Like Johnson, who left Gilbert Highland High School, Ashley transferred from Oakland's Bishop O'Dowd to play a higher level of competition.
"He's done a great job," Findlay coach Michael Peck said. "He's adjusted and figured out how to flourish while playing around equally talented players."
Known as a slender, athletic forward, Ashley has gained strength and learned how to play physically without picking up fouls, Peck said.
"He's done it all," Peck said. "He can really rebound the basketball, finishes well around the paint. He has great hands and really understands the game. He's definitely ready for Arizona."
• What: McDonald's All-American Game
• Where: Chicago
• When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
• TV: ESPN
• Position: Forward
• Size: 6-8, 215
• Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
• School: Findlay Prep (Nev.)
• 2011-12 stats: 16.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg
• Committed to Arizona: Aug. 29, 2011
• Also considered: Kentucky, UCLA
• Position: Forward
• Size: 6-10, 220
• Hometown: Chino Hills, Calif.
• School: La Verne Lutheran
• 2011-12 stats: 22.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg
• Committed to Arizona on: Nov. 27, 2010
• Also considered: UCLA, USC, UNLV