Arizona basketball: Nick Johnson finds rhythm after rough month

Nick Johnson, driving against Larry Drew II, had 10 points and played well on defense in UA's loss at UCLA. "He was in a better place," said coach Sean Miller.


Parker Jackson-Cartwright is entering his junior year at Los Angeles' Loyola High School and, for some time, had no reason to think he would be contemplating big-time college basketball at this point of his life.

He's 5-foot-7, after all.

But Jackson-Cartwright just happens to be an exceptionally skilled and smart point guard, with good shooting and ball- handling, the kind of smaller player who can become an engine for a high-major college team.

So he's thinking. Jackson-Cartwright said he was scheduled to take an unofficial recruiting visit to Arizona this weekend, the latest step in what he's found a surprising onslaught of recruitment activity.

"I'm starting to think about it now," Jackson-Cartwright said at last week's Las Vegas Classic recruiting showcase tournament. "It's crazy. I've gotta start making some decisions."

A standout with the California Supreme travel-ball team, who is coached by former Wildcat Miles Simon, Jackson-Cartwright said he "just thought people wouldn't really believe in me because of my size and stuff like that."

But they do. Jackson-Cart-wright said he's also considering Washington, UCLA, San Diego State and North Carolina State but remains wide open. He will view Arizona's pre-Bahamas practices this weekend to get a better idea of whether he will keep the Wildcats under consideration.

"I want to see them practice," Jackson-Cartwright said. "I want to get to know the rest of the coaching staff. I've spent a lot of time with coach (Sean) Miller. I know his expectations for me as a player, that he feels I can fit in his system."

UA offers scholarships

The Wildcats have offered a scholarship to 2014 wing Dorian Pickens of Phoenix's Pinnacle High School, while also doing the same with a pair of younger players in Southern California.

Miller made the decision after watching Pickens recently, according to Ray Arvizu, Pickens' travel-team coach and the older brother of former UA walk-on Robert Arvizu.

"Arizona has watched him multiple times between school and club ball, and Sean came in the last week and a half and liked what he saw," Arvizu said.

"The whole month of July they liked what he had to offer. Dorian has the ability to get his shot off against elite shot-blockers."

The Wildcats also have offered scholarships to incoming high school freshman Derryck Thornton and eighth-grade forward Cody Riley, according to Tyrone Nichols, their California Basketball Club travel-team coach.

"In the recruiting process, if you're a high-major and you know it's going to be a special kid, you're almost forced to get in early," Nichols said. "The risk you take as a high major is not getting involved early enough. And for some kids, it just starts really, really early."

Miller optimistic

In a video released by the Arizona athletic department, Miller said the Wildcats have the components to have "something special" next season, noting how the team's four freshmen have had no issues during the Wildcats' summertime and pre-exhibition tour preparations.

"It's very apparent that each of those guys are here for the right reasons," Miller said.

"They want to win. They are willing to learn. They've put in a lot of work over the summer with almost no issues. … That to me, aside from their talent level, is exciting.

"When you have those new guys and you have buy-in from the beginning, it makes life so much easier."

Miller also said in the video that his starting lineup may change during the upcoming season, and discussed the advantages of the team's newfound depth and size.

The Wildcats are scheduled to leave Thursday and play two games in the Bahamas, on Aug. 11 against the Real Deal Shockers and on Aug. 13 against the Bahamas All Stars. They also have an intrasquad scrimmage scheduled for Aug. 12.

On StarNet: Go to for an interactive timeline of the Wildcats' 2012-13 basketball season from current developments to post-season. It will be updated as events happen. Find the timeline under "More."