Arizona coach Sean Miller pulled in perhaps the most critical piece of his 2013 recruiting puzzle Thursday, when Pennsylvania forward Rondae Jefferson committed to the Wildcats.
Jefferson, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound wing from Chester (Pa.) High School, is a consensus Top 20 player who will be expected to help the Wildcats recover from the losses of Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom next season.
The Wildcats already have three highly touted freshmen big men, and a point guard of the future in Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell, making the wings their biggest priority in 2013.
Jefferson also appears to fit Miller's recruiting mold with his reputation for toughness, work ethic and teamwork.
"This kid is all about winning," ESPN analyst Dave Telep told the Star via text message. "He's got the Philly toughness gene and is talented in the lane. Ultimate glue guy."
Former UA forward Derrick Williams was among those offering Jefferson a shoutout via Twitter.
"Going to be a special player!!" Williams tweeted.
Jefferson could not be reached by the Star for comment Thursday, but he confirmed the news on Twitter.
"Arizona it is. #BearDown," his Twitter post read.
Jefferson visited Arizona unofficially en route to the Elite 24 all-star game in Los Angeles last month, then returned with his mother for an official (paid) visit last weekend.
Jefferson was seen wearing an Arizona Wildcats hat at the Arizona-Oklahoma State football game Saturday.
"On my visit it felt like a home away from home," Jefferson told ESPN. "From the players to the coaches and the people on campus."
The visit appeared to all but seal Jefferson's commitment. Jefferson was planning to take recruiting trips to Florida and Texas, according to Chester coach Larry Yarbray, but did not visit either school. He returned home Sunday and by Thursday, when Miller and assistant coach Book Richardson showed up in Pennsylvania, Jefferson offered his commitment.
While the Wildcats will need Jefferson most on the wing, Yarbray said last month that Jefferson can play all five positions for Chester. On an undefeated team with a 13-man rotation last season, Jefferson averaged just about 20 minutes but filled stat sheets with an average of 12.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 blocks.
"He's one of he most versatile athletes I've ever seen," Yarbray said. "He's a total team player, committed to winning, and he does the little things."
Yarbray said Jefferson "probably needs to work on his jump shot a little bit," and ESPNU's scouting report on Jefferson said he's "a jumper away from being unstoppable."
But Jefferson has been working on that jump shot all summer, Yarbray said, displaying a drive that Miller no doubt will appreciate.
"He's very coachable," Yarbray said. "He listens and he wants to get better."
The Wildcats now have two commitments from the class of 2013. Dublin, Calif., wing Elliott Pitts committed to Arizona last month. The Wildcats have at least four scholarships to offer for next season. Committed players will be able to sign binding letters of intent in November.