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Arizona basketball: Hail to the Victor: New commit has versatility

2013-08-19T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:39:21Z Arizona basketball: Hail to the Victor: New commit has versatilityBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

At age 7, Craig Victor was already 5 feet 4 inches. By 10, he joined an elite travel basketball club in New Orleans, and began standing out.

During his freshman year in high school, the new Arizona Wildcats 2014 commit helped St. Augustine to the Louisiana 5A title.

Those aren't terribly unusual stories for a high-major college basketball prospect.

What is: That the kid never would go away.

"He was about 11 when he started coming to work out and wanted to get better," said Graegg Holmes, Victor's longtime coach with the New Orleans Elite travel club. "He wanted to work out with the guards and had that kind of (work ethic) you can't teach. I just watched him grow as far as the game and understanding.

"He had a really great understanding for the game, and that showed me he was going to make it."

It showed not just during Victor's just-ended career with the Elite program but also the way he helped lead powerful St. Augustine … and the way he opted to play his senior year at Findlay Prep near Las Vegas.

With St. Augustine relying on him to play center, Victor decided to leave home this season for the chance to play forward at the Nevada prep powerhouse.

"Craig wanted to be able to expand his game, and the only way he could expand his game was to play against guys of that caliber and to play a national-caliber schedule," Holmes said. "He wanted to prepare for college, and that was a good opportunity for him to prepare and contribute."

A year from now, Victor hopes to contribute immediately to the Wildcats, who gained his commitment Saturday. At about 6-8 and 220 pounds, he projects as a power forward but also has long-term visions of sliding to small forward.

Holmes said Victor is best now in the low post but that he has the potential to play farther way from the basket.

"I think that was probably the most intriguing thing with a lot of the universities," Holmes said. "Craig can do both. He's a good low-post guy, defending and scoring, and he can still defend on the perimeter. It's intriguing because he's a mismatch either way - handling a smaller guy in the post or if it's a bigger guy, he can bring him out on the perimeter."

Several national analysts also have suggested Victor could play a versatile role in college.

ESPN's Dave Telep said Victor was one of the few 2014 power forwards with the "motor, scoring acumen and perimeter package" to play inside and up to 18 feet away from the basket.

His colleague, ESPN analyst Reggie Rankin, elaborated.

"Victor can post up and overpower smaller forwards and drive by less mobile ones," Rankin wrote. "He is also a terrific interior passer. Victor can complete passes on time and on target to open teammates from the high post and along the baseline when attacking off the dribble. Victor is a solid rebounder as well.

"Victor will be able to pick-and-pop inside the arc and pick-and-roll to the rim, in addition to (UA coach Sean) Miller creating some wing, post and baseline isolations for him as well. He will be a good decision-maker and help immediately on the glass on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Victor has the basketball IQ, athletic ability and strength to defend both forward positions and even shooting guards in a switching or late-clock situation."

However, Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News said Victor still must expand his game in college after simply being bigger and taller than most of his opponents in high school.

"He is a clever scorer in and around the lane," DeCourcy wrote. "But to become a serious contributor as his career progresses, he'll need either to continue to develop his perimeter shot or become a hungry, rebound-first/last/always sort of player."

If that means a lot more work, Victor's OK with that.

"The main thing is working hard and being there," he said.

Contact reporter Bruce Pascoe at bpascoe@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter: @brucepascoe

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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