Arizona basketball: Miller stays, everybody exhales

Recruits, parents have 'really rough 48 hours' awaiting coach's move
2011-05-09T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:15:49Z Arizona basketball: Miller stays, everybody exhalesBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 09, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Thanks to a quick exit from Maryland's coaching search, and some frenetic communication work, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller returned Sunday with his recruiting intact.

Miller agreed to an undisclosed contract extension with Arizona just hours after meeting with Maryland AD Kevin Anderson in Las Vegas on Saturday night, then returned to Tucson to host 2012 guard Shabazz Muhammad.

On Friday, before he left for Las Vegas, Miller had also hosted guard Chris Thomas, one of the top players in the 2013 class.

In between all that activity, he repeatedly telephoned players, recruits and their parents alike.

Doris Ward, the mother of incoming point guard Josiah Turner, said Miller had kept her informed during the entire 48-hour period when he considered the Terrapins' job.

"We trusted Sean Miller whether it was stay or go," Ward said. "He owed it to his family to take a look. But I talked to him frequently, so I didn't worry about all the reports and stuff online. He did an excellent job of communicating with his players."

Of course, there were still some nervousness and initial disappointment among recruits and their families. Michelle Johnson, the mother of incoming freshman guard Nick Johnson, said it was a "really rough 48 hours" between the time Miller's name surfaced in connection with Maryland on Thursday and the time she received a call from him Saturday night to say he was staying.

But Johnson said she also couldn't blame Miller for looking.

"The nature of the game is exactly that - if I was offered a job tomorrow that paid more and put me in a region of the country where I was from, I would obviously want to consider it," Johnson said. "So I don't think we were even upset for him from considering it. It's human nature. And we know that when Nick gets to the league (NBA), coaches come and go all the time. It's a business."

The high school coach of San Diego forward Angelo Chol, Ollie Goulston, said he was disappointed initially because Chol had signed a binding letter of intent just days before Maryland came after Miller.

Goulston said he should have insisted Chol sign only a non-binding scholarship agreement instead, knowing top-tier coaches such as Miller are constantly in demand and could leave at any time.

"This is part of the business," Goulston said. "You don't have a crystal ball. I went against my instinct in having Angelo sign the letter of intent instead of a scholarship agreement. There's really no way you can ever know."

Goulston said he and Chol were "thrilled" once they heard from Miller on Saturday night, while Michelle Johnson used the word "ecstatic" to describe the feelings of herself and her son.

There were similar emotions among Miller's younger committed recruits, 2012 forward Grant Jerrett and 2013 guard Eric Cooper Jr., according to their coach at La Verne Lutheran, Eric Cooper Sr. But both of those players have yet to sign letters of intent, so they were free to change their minds without consequence if Miller left.

Cooper said his son and Jerrett probably would have had to consider going elsewhere if Miller left, but that he never thought Miller would leave.

"I just felt like he had some stuff he was trying to investigate and I thought he'd make a good decision," said Cooper, a former Wildcat player. "Of course it's a sigh of relief for the kids but not just my kids - but for everybody. If he took off to leave it would have affected a lot of people who support the program."

Instead, Miller sent a message to recruits that he won't be easily pried from Tucson. He issued a statement Saturday night saying he remains "strongly committed to rebuilding Arizona into a championship program," having turned away from a Maryland program that had personal and professional appeal on his native East Coast and in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference.

"If he didn't take this one," ESPN analyst Dave Telep said via text message, "he isn't leaving."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Washington
12/17 9:00 pm
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