UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: With player, staff changes galore, it's been a hectic eight weeks for Wildcats

With player, staff changes galore, it's been a hectic eight weeks for Wildcats
2013-05-26T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:38:08Z Arizona basketball: With player, staff changes galore, it's been a hectic eight weeks for WildcatsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

You could say the Arizona Wildcats' 2012-13 season finished over eight weeks ago, when Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross drained a late three-pointer in an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game.

But the drama never did end.

Things continued to be arguably just as suspenseful for the Wildcats over the following two months as a dizzying array of early departures, additions and questions surrounded the program.

There was just no actual basketball involved.

Five-star prospect Aaron Gordon committed to the Wildcats. Then UA freshman forward Grant Jerrett decided to leave for the NBA a week later while his former high school teammate, Eric Cooper Jr., decommitted from the Wildcats.

Then there was the transfer of sophomore forward Angelo Chol and, with Arizona suddenly lacking in depth up front, the scramble to land injury-plagued former Kansas recruit Zach Peters off the transfer wire.

What's more, there was the Pac-12 officiating controversy, which led to the resignation of officials coordinator Ed Rush, and the decision of associate head coach James Whitford to become Ball State's head coach. Whitford's spot was essentially filled by former Wildcat star Damon Stoudamire earlier this month and then, only then, did the news begin to slow down.

By the time coach Sean Miller held his first post-season media availability May 17, he tried to put it all in perspective.

"Spring used to be a quiet time in college basketball," Miller said. "I don't think the fact that it's not is exclusive to Arizona. I think it's more along the lines of what it's like around college basketball from coast to coast today. Young people are making decisions to leave programs, and obviously the NBA is very appealing to a younger group, maybe now more than ever before - and because of that, the month of April can take on a lot of different faces."

With Chol and possibly Jerrett leaving because of playing time concerns, Miller toned down his aggressive recruiting philosophy somewhat. He said he might not even fill all of UA's 13 available scholarships for next season, noting that a smaller roster would make it easier to "deliver on those expectations" of playing time.

But at the same time, Miller said he would not adjust the kind of recruits he is targeting.

"The quest of recruiting good people, who want a college degree, who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, that will not change," Miller said. "It's just that it's very fluid. … Not just here but across college basketball, a lot of guys are making quick decisions that can impact your program.

"For us I think we have arms around our future in terms of how we approach it and I'm excited about that."

Here's a look back at the two months since Arizona's season ended:

April 1: A report surfaces that Pac-12 officials coordinator Ed Rush improperly tried to motivate his officials to monitor Sean Miller and other coaches at the Pac-12 tournament, comments Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says were "in jest."

April 2: Five-star forward Aaron Gordon picks UA over Washington, Oregon and Kentucky during a news conference before the McDonald's All-American Game. "I hope Tucson is celebrating, because I'm going to be a West Coast Wildcat," Gordon says.

April 3: Gordon becomes MVP of the McDonald's game, with 24 acrobatic points and eight rebounds, almost dunking on future UA teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. "I said, 'That's not right, man. That's not right,' " Hollis-Jefferson said.

April 4: Rush resigns after pressure builds all week. "My first and highest concerns have always been the integrity of the game of basketball and the honor of the craft of officiating," Rush said in a statement.

April 5: In an interview with the Star, Rush questions both the turnover call and technical foul that led to Miller's postgame actions during UA's March 15 loss to UCLA in a Pac-12 tournament semifinal; the Pac-12 said Miller both confronted an official after the game and directed an outburst at a conference staffer. Rush says he tried unsuccessfully to reach Miller.

April 6: UA associate head coach James Whitford becomes Ball State's head basketball coach. "I had a job that was one of the best in the country, so while it was easy to go to Ball State, it wasn't an easy decision to leave," Whitford said.

April 9: The Pac-12 announces it will commission an independent investigation of the officiating and coaching events at the Pac-12 tournament, later hiring Indianapolis firm Ice Miller LLP.

April 10: Senior wing Kevin Parrom says he won't apply for a hardship waiver to receive a fifth year of eligibility, ending his UA career. He missed significant time as a freshman and junior because of injuries but still played too much to meet standard medical hardship requirements.

April 13: Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson play in the Jordan Brand Classic, the second-biggest high school all-star game.

April 15: Reports surface that freshman forward Grant Jerrett is considering turning pro. His high school coach, Eric Cooper, declines comment but tells CBS Sports that Jerrett "has no intention of going in the draft at this time."

April 16: Cooper's son, Eric Cooper Jr., a guard from the class of 2014, decommits from Arizona. "Eric was so young when he (committed to UA in 2010), and a lot has changed," Cooper Sr. says. "We just want to see what else is out there."

April 17: Jerrett announces he will leave for pro ball even though he is not projected as a first-round NBA Draft pick. CBS Sports says he will sign with agent Brian Dyke, who is Cooper's brother-in-law.

April 20: Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson play for the USA Junior Select team in the Nike Hoop Summit game, won by the World team 112-98.

April 21: USA Today obtains documents indicating that the UA/Pac-12 rift began in January, when Miller was reprimanded for confronting an official after a Jan. 10 loss at Oregon.

April 22: Former UA guard Josiah Turner, after playing what would have been his sophomore season in Hungary and Canada, returns to Tucson to spend two days in the Pima County jail after a plea agreement was reached in an extreme DUI case stemming from his April 2012 arrest.

May 1: Forward Angelo Chol, whose minutes dropped from 12.2 as a freshman to 8.5 as a sophomore, announces he will transfer. "He liked Arizona … but he wanted the opportunity to play a greater role," said Ollie Goulston, Chol's high school coach. "You've gotta be realistic. It was a numbers game."

May 5: Former Wildcat star guard Damon Stouda-mire leaves an assistant coaching job at Memphis to take a similar role at Arizona. "I think for Sean, it's the right hire at the right time," former UA coach Lute Olson says.

May 8: Chol opts to transfer to San Diego State, in his adopted hometown, after attracting interest from 48 schools. "I don't think it's ever a negative for anyone to come home to their support system," Goulston says.

May 10: Arizona adds Eric Conklin, a 6-foot--inch 7 forward from Scottsdale Chaparral High School, as a walk-on.

May 12: Forward Zach Peters opts to transfer to the Wildcats after suffering multiple concussions in 2012 at Kansas and leaving the Jayhawks after the fall semester of his freshman season. He is expected to appeal for eligibility in 2013-14 by arguing that the move from Kansas was out of his control.

May 17: After having 10 player personnel moves in seven weeks, Miller said he won't necessarily use all 13 scholarship spots for the 2013-14 season. "You don't want to just fill in the scholarship void to add depth," Miller said. "That's not going to work because that person you're talking about will end up leaving for sure."

May 20: Former Wildcat player Harvey Mason Jr., announces his son, Los Angeles Loyola guard Trey Mason, will join the Wildcats as a walk-on. Mason will be the first son of an Olson-era player to join the Wildcats.

2013-14 Arizona roster

Brandon Ashley F 6-8 235 So.

Eric Conklin* F 6-7 200 Fr.

Aaron Gordon F 6-7 210 Fr.

Jacob Hazzard* G 5-11 165 So.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson F 6-7 215 Fr.

Nick Johnson G 6-3 200 So.

Matt Korcheck F 6-10 225 Jr.

Trey Mason* G 6-2 190 Fr.

Jordin Mayes G 6-3 200 Sr.

T.J. McConnell G 6-1 190 Jr.

Drew Mellon* F 6-6 210 Jr.

Zach Peters** F 6-9 220 Fr.

Elliott Pitts G 6-5 180 Fr.

Kaleb Tarczewski C 7-00 255 So.

Gabe York G 6-2 185 So.

(two scholarship spots remain open)

*walk-on

** eligibility for 2013-14 uncertain

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


AP Top 25


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow the Arizona Daily Star