Arizona basketball: Runner-up complex

Washington's Isaiah Thomas broke Arizona's hearts - and ended the Wildcats' hope for a conference title - when he hit a game-winner in 2011. The UA looks to win a Pac-12 final after finishing second the last two years.


For Arizona, the fall signing period may have to be about quality over quantity.

The Wildcats are expected to sign forward Rondae Jefferson of Chester, Pa., and guard Elliott Pitts of Dublin, Calif., after the signing period opens Wednesday, and it is unclear if other targets such as forward Aaron Gordon or center Kameron Rooks will make a decision this week.

So UA won't be showered with the same kind of recruiting hype it was last November, when it pulled in four highly regarded talents. But even with two signees this time, the Wildcats have a class rated in the top 20 by the major scouting websites. Rivals ranks UA's two-player class No. 15. The Cats are 17 in Scout and 18 in ESPN.

Jefferson said via Twitter that he'll sign on Thursday, while Pitts has been unavailable for comment. Gordon, meanwhile, tweeted that his decision between UA, Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Washington is "gunna be tough."

Larry Yarbray, Jefferson's coach at Chester (Pa.) High School, said Jefferson would definitely sign during the November signing period but was not sure what day. He said Jefferson has been focused on schoolwork, SAT preparation and his powerhouse high school team, which begins practice Friday.

"Everything's going well," Yarbray said.

There are signs that UA 2013 target wing Keith Frazier won't make a decision until the spring. Frazier and his travel-ball coach have been unavailable for comment.

Ashley staying ready

Maybe it's a bit odd for a McDonalds all-American such as freshman forward Brandon Ashley to come off the bench, but he made the most of it Sunday.

Ashley had 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal while playing 24 minutes - including some at center - as the No. 12-ranked Wildcats downsized their lineup in order to beat Charleston Southern 82-73.

"Whether you come off the bench or start, when you go in the game you want to be productive with the minutes you do get," Ashley said. "Starting isn't necessarily the most important thing. You just want to come in and make sure that when you do get in the game, you're making the most of that time."

UA coach Sean Miller has spoken of how Ashley, along with fellow big men Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett and Angelo Chol, can give the Wildcats different looks as matchups may dictate. Ashley agreed.

"We've got a lot of talented players who can play multiple positions," Ashley said.

"We've got me, who can play the three and four. Grant can play the four and five. Solomon Hill can play multiple positions. A lot of the guys on our team can play multiple positions, and play them well. So knowing that, there could be a lot of different lineups."

Different kind of efficiency

While Arizona had to adjust to Charleston Southern's zone defense Sunday, Miller was pleased with the Wildcats' overall offensive efficiency.

The Wildcats managed to score a respectable 1.22 points per possession Sunday, even through they hit 34.4 percent of their three pointers and received just 19 combined points from the three freshmen big men.

The reason for the decent efficiency number? They hit 11 three-pointers and turned the ball over only eight times.

Miller noted that the Wildcats also had 25 assists for their 27 field goals.

"There won't be many games that you see in college basketball when that's the case," Miller said of the 25-to-8 ratio. "From an offense perspective against the zone, it was tricky for a lot of young frontcourt players, but we did a pretty good job."

The Wildcats took 32 three-pointers, more than half of their 60 field goals, but that wasn't too many for Miller in this case.

"Maybe we took what the defense gave us," he said. "I don't know. I'd have to watch the film. We had a few ill-advised shots. Usually you have more ill-advised shots in November than you do at any other time.

"But I think if you do the numbers, because we had eight turnovers and 11 threes, our offensive efficiency was pretty good."

Meet the 2013 Duo

Players in Arizona's 2013 recruiting class (so far), with position, height, weight, school and rankings:

• Rondae Jefferson: F, 6-6, 190, Chester (Pa.) High, 11 (Scout), 17 (ESPN), 19 (Rivals)

• Elliott Pitts: G, 6-5, 190, De La Salle (Dublin, Calif.) High, 91 (ESPN), 119 (Rivals), NR (Scout)

How UA's two-player class is rated

• No. 15 by Rivals. Comment: "Sean Miller continues to recruit very well out in the desert. Rondae Jefferson is a tough guy small forward who plays with terrific energy. Elliott Pitts can shoot with range and is a good passer."

• No. 17 by Scout. Comment: "Jefferson is the headliner here. A competitor and tough wing prospect, he'll likely start from day one. Pitts gives them a talented shooter from both mid and long range."

• No. 18 by ESPN. Comment: "Jefferson is a jumper away from being absolutely unstoppable. He is one of the more impressive prospects in the class. He has a multiple skill-set that is hard to handle."

Up next

• Who: UTEP at No. 12 Arizona

• When: 8 p.m. Thursday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM