UA guard Nick Johnson is one of the three players who have helped energize the Cats. Here he floats in for a layup against Harvard on Saturday.


Five other Arizona Wildcat freshmen joined center Alex Jacobson when he arrived in Tucson during the fall of 2007.

None of them will be around today for Senior Day ceremonies after the Wildcats' final home game of the regular season. And only one of them would have joined him for last season's Senior Day if Jacobson left after four years instead of redshirting in 2007-08.

Long gone are 2007 recruiting classmates Laval Lucas-Perry (transferred to Michigan, then Oakland), Jeff Withey (Kansas), Jerryd Bayless (NBA) and Zane Johnson (Hawaii).

Jacobson's lone presence is a sign, the final remaining sign, of the disruption the Wildcats faced during the messy transition from Lute Olson to Sean Miller from 2007 to 2009.

"I came in with five freshmen and, throughout all the chaos, I'm leaving with (four) different seniors," Jacobson said about Kyle Fogg, Brendon Lavender, Jesse Perry and Dondre Wise. "I just realized that."

With that, Jacobson chuckled.

The big man known as "Tree" let it roll off his oft-injured back, just like he has had to do with a lot of things throughout his five-year Wildcat career.

Jacobson actually had his biggest impact with interim coach Russ Pennell's Sweet 16 team in 2008-09 as a redshirt freshman, playing in 25 games and starting three. But his playing time has steadily decreased in three years under Miller, in part because of back issues. He has appeared in only six games this season, with a total of 19 minutes played.

"My overall master plan is just to kind of go with the flow," Jacobson said.

Because he took the redshirt season as a freshman, Jacobson didn't have another year to burn for transferring and never left. There were times, the center said, he considered leaving anyway.

"I think about it, but it's just coulda-shoulda-woulda," Jacobson said. "Everybody wishes they could go back in time.

"My overall experience was good. I'm actually really glad I came here. I've had so much fun here and so many experiences I'll remember the rest of my life."

Guards Fogg and Lavender, the other final pieces of the Olson era who will join Jacobson for Senior Day ceremonies today, went on to become key players under Miller.

Jacobson practiced as a redshirt when Kevin O'Neill took over temporarily for Olson in 2007-08, while Fogg and Lavender played for Olson during only two weeks of practices before Olson's permanent October 2008 retirement.

All three of them found roles under Pennell in 2008-09. Then, after that season, Miller accepted the permanent job - and found he inherited some character on the roster.

"Those guys really came to Arizona during a period of uncertainty," Miller said. "It's difficult to go through a coaching change or, in some cases, two or three for a guy like Alex. So their loyalty toward the University of Arizona, and their loyalty toward us as a coaching staff is really greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten.

"My hope is that we as a coaching staff can take these guys as far as we can and, vice versa, that they as a group can take us to as high of a ceiling as our team has."

Today's Senior Day will also feature Perry, who was recruited by Miller in 2010 out of junior college, and reserve guard Wise, who joined the Wildcats for Miller's first season after playing a year for Pima College.

Here's a look back at their UA careers:

Alex Jacobson

Big moment: In just his fourth college game, Jacobson had four points, three rebounds and an assist at Texas A&M on Dec. 5, 2008.

McKale memory: When Arizona beat Houston in overtime on Jan. 24, 2009. Because, Jacobson said, "we came back after Chase (Budinger) got stepped on the face."

Road highlight: The Texas A&M game.

Miller said it: "He's always had these lower-back problems and he's fought through it. He's never complained. When we've put him in games, he's always come in with a great attitude and helped us. On our team there's probably not a more popular teammate than Tree, because everybody knows that his heart's really in the right place and everybody knows the odds that he's overcome."

Kyle Fogg

Big moment: Among the many, Fogg earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after leading the Wildcats to a critical sweep of California and Stanford earlier this month, with an average of 18.5 points a game.

McKale memory: Games with UCLA and ASU, last season's "whiteout" against Washington, and hitting three free throws to put the 2009-10 regular-season finale against USC into overtime before UA won it. "Lot of great memories here," he said. "I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Road highlight: NCAA tournament wins, especially the victory over Duke in the 2011 Sweet 16. "Just a great feeling," Fogg said.

Miller said it: "Obviously, his statistics reveal he's been one of the most consistent players to play at Arizona. … He was a very key role player on a Sweet 16 team as a freshman and he's been a starter almost ever since. I don't know that I've ever coached a player who invested more of himself when last season ended and this season began. Look at his numbers (12.9 points per game, 60 of 135 three-pointers, 44.4 percent), and it's great to see all that hard work pay off. He's a great kid and somebody who's going to be very successful when he leaves Arizona, that's for sure."

Brendon Lavender

Big moment: Had eight points, while hitting both three-pointers he took, in seven minutes of UA's NCAA tournament win over Texas last season.

McKale memory: Multiple. "I just like when we're winning and everyone's doing really well, rooting for each other. We've had a lot of games like that."

Road highlight: Playing in the Maui Invitational and beating Duke in the 2011 Sweet 16. "That was probably one of the best experiences of my life," Lavender said.

Miller said it: "Sometimes his role on this team is understated. At Cal (in a triple-overtime win last season), he hit a huge shot from the left corner and had several big moments off the bench last year where he really delivered. … This year, because of our circumstances, he's been thrust into a bigger role (averaging 17.6 minutes in Pac-12 games). But it's one thing to have that opportunity and another to seize that opportunity and deliver."

Jesse Perry

Big moment: Had 14 points and seven rebounds against Connecticut in the 2011 Elite Eight, earning a spot on the all-West Regional team.

McKale memory: The Washington "whiteout" game last year and this year, as well as "just a lot of games where it's packed and the crowd's going crazy."

Road highlight: Can't reveal (smiles).

Miller said it: "I don't know if we could have asked him to do any more than he's done at Arizona. He became a starter last year and really improved as the year went on. He's one of the reasons we had the successful run that we did in the tournament last season. (This) year, we asked him to guard the other team's biggest player… he's 6-7, 215 pounds and he's embraced that. I'm proud of what he's been able to do, especially in two quick years. It's great to see him give us a lot and in return I think he'll leave here with a lot after 24 months."

Dondre Wise

Big moment: Had two points, a rebound and an assist at Rice in his hometown of Houston on Dec. 1, 2010.

McKale memory: Watching Nic Wise, his older brother, hit game-winning shots to beat Lipscomb, North Carolina State and USC in 2009-10. "Just seeing the crowd like that, I've never seen anything like that," Dondre Wise said.

Road highlight: The atmosphere at the Pac-10 Tournament in the Staples Center. "It's a great arena with a lot of history even though it's only been open (nearly 13 years)."

Miller said it: "Everybody respects him, and he's added value every day. One of the things right now, with so many players down, is we've asked Dondre and our scout team to practice harder and longer. We've been able to count on him the last two years in that role."



• What: UCLA at Arizona

• When: Noon

• TV; radio: Ch 13; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)