Arizona basketball: Cats' Williams almost a Tiger, by Josh

2011-03-15T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:01:21Z Arizona basketball: Cats' Williams almost a Tiger, by JoshBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

By the time Lute Olson flew over in the middle of the 2005-06 season to watch Jamelle Horne work out at San Diego High School, the deal was all but done.

That's because Josh Pastner had, for months, kept infiltrating Horne with text messages, kept showing up to watch him and, when rules allowed, kept calling him.

Horne had virtually no choice but to become a Wildcat.

"I committed to Josh," the Wildcats senior forward said of Pastner, a former UA assistant who will lead the Memphis Tigers against the Wildcats on Friday in the NCAA tournament. "He was my caretaker. He was the reason why I came here. Lute, of course, played a huge factor, to have an opportunity to play under him, which fell through. But Josh was always at every game, every AAU tournament, things like that. He was just super persistent."

Pastner, who nearly pulled in Derrick Williams for Memphis in June 2008 with those same 24/7 recruiting tactics, had the chance to work with Horne for his freshman season only.

That was in 2007-08, when Kevin O'Neill took over as interim head coach while Olson took a leave of absence.

"He really didn't have much of a role," Horne said of Pastner. "I know he was in charge of the big guys, but that was when Kevin O'Neill was here, and KO kind of took the reins of the program. So assistant coaches were just there for us, talked to us and tried to keep us afloat."

After the season ended, Olson came back briefly, removed O'Neill from his staff, and Pastner later took off to work under John Calipari at Memphis.

A year later, Calipari left for Kentucky, Pastner was promoted to head coach and one of Pastner's first major recruiting battles was with … Arizona coach Sean Miller - over Williams.

In June 2009, Williams was let out of his letter of intent to USC because of coach Tim Floyd's firing, and Williams quickly scheduled visits to Memphis and Arizona in an effort to find a new home.

Pastner, receiving the first of two final visits, thought he had an edge.

"When he left he even had our Memphis background on his phone," Pastner said. "We thought we were going to get him. But I said, 'We have to get him committed before he gets back on the plane going west, back to Tucson.'

"You can't let him get to campus at Arizona. By golly, the guy went back there and changed his screensaver to Arizona."

Williams chuckled when reminded of the story. Just two days after arriving home from Memphis, Williams turned around and went to Tucson.

"I was really, really close" to committing to Memphis, Williams said. "I wanted to take one more visit. Coach Miller recruited me really hard so I wanted to respect that and take a visit here. It's one of the best basketball schools on the West Coast, so I wanted to give it a shot."

As close as Williams might have been leaning toward Memphis, though, Miller said he wasn't worried that Williams would cancel the visit to Tucson. Miller also believed that, once Williams was in Tucson, the advantage would shift.

"I had a lot of confidence in recruiting Derrick," Miller said.

Miller said he's glad Williams made the decision he did, and it's easy to see why: Williams was named a second-team All-American on Monday by the United States Basketball Writers Association, playing so well that he alone might have made Memphis the No. 5 seed and Arizona the No. 12 in Friday's game if he were wearing a Tiger jersey.

The Wildcats, instead, are the favorites, though that doesn't make the matchup any less awkward for either side.

"I wish we weren't playing him because he's meant so much to Arizona," Miller said of Pastner.

"But nonetheless, that's the game that we're playing so we're getting ready."

Pastner will be ready, too.

"He's just an intense guy," Horne said. "He's very passionate about the game, and there's not much to what he does, but what he does works, and we're looking forward to the matchup with him in the tournament.

"It's a small world to see Josh Pastner on the other sideline, playing against him. Just three years ago, that guy was my coach."

Rim shots

• In addition to being given second-team All-America honors by the USBWA, Williams was also on the 20-man list of finalists for the Wooden Award.

• Miller said he would probably reinsert Kyle Fogg

in the starting lineup Friday, since his strained quad could be nearly 100 percent by then. "That's the best team we can put on the court," Miller said.

• Adding to the irony in Friday's matchup: Former Wildcat guard Steve Kerr will be working the game for CBS.

Up next

• Who: No. 5 Arizona (27-7) vs. No. 12 Memphis (25-9)

• Where: Tulsa, Okla.

• When: About 11:45 a.m. Friday

• TV: Channel 13

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


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 1 0 0.923
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 11 1 0 0.917
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 9 5 0 0.643
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 9 2 0 0.818
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 5 0 0.615
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 6 6 0 0.500

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal State-Bakersfield at
California
12/28 55-52
UCLA at
Alabama
12/28 50-56
Stony Brook at
Washington
12/28 62-57
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at
Stanford
12/29 9:00 pm
Carroll (Mont.) at
Utah
12/30 7:30 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
Oregon State
12/30 7:30 pm
Vermont at
USC
12/30 9:30 pm
UCLA at
Colorado
1/2 8:00 pm
Washington at
California
1/2 8:00 pm
Washington at
California
1/2 8:00 pm
USC at
Utah
1/2 8:00 pm
Oregon State at
Oregon
1/3 12:00 am
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