Before the Arizona Wildcats even begin on-the-floor instruction this fall, they’ll learn what it takes off it.
Arizona basketball players were scheduled to return to campus by this morning, then attend what coach Sean Miller calls a “state of the union” meeting this afternoon. During that, the players will listen to talks by trainers, doctors, police officers, public relations representatives and others.
“We try to give our players a sampling of everything that can happen to them outside of our locker room, first and foremost,” Miller said earlier this month. “A lot of things go on in today’s world — a phone can take a picture, and all of a sudden you know about it quicker and more often. It’s a lesson for all of us that we have to be extremely careful and diligent, and know that we represent a team, a program, a university, and we want to do it in a first-class manner.”
The approach may have helped last season. After the Wildcats were dogged in 2011-12 by off-court incidents involving Josiah Turner (suspensions and a DUI-related arrest) and Jesse Perry (arrested on domestic violence charges), they had no such off-court distractions in 2012-13.
“I know our players are not robots,” Miller said. “We all make mistakes and when we do, we just have to acknowledge it and move forward. But we go to great lengths to educate our team … to give them guest speakers and samplings in addition to what we preach every day, knowing that young people can make quick and bad decisions. And when they do, hopefully they’ll learn from them.”
The Wildcats will have a busy week after the meeting. While they don’t normally have workouts scheduled for the first week of fall classes, they will probably begin Wednesday, according to Ryan Reynolds, UA’s director of basketball operations.
That’s because full practices now start on Sept. 27 instead of in mid-October, leaving the Wildcats less time for conditioning and skill work before they begin.
The second weekend of September could be a big one for the Wildcats, who are scheduled to host Chicago big man Cliff Alexander and Southern California wing Stanley Johnson for recruiting visits from Sept. 13-15.
ESPN reported Alexander’s planned visit, while Johnson posted his schedule on Twitter. Scout.com also reported that Chicago forward Paul White would visit Arizona on Sept. 7.
Houston wing Justise Winslow, who joined Johnson and several other UA targets at the Elite 24 all-star game in New York on Saturday, is also expected to cut his list to five schools soon, with Arizona and Duke widely expected to be among them.
After New Orleans forward Craig Victor committed to the Wildcats last weekend, Winslow sent out a congratulatory tweet.
“Been cool with this dude since 6th grade!” Winslow’s tweet said.
UA freshman forward Aaron Gordon was named a second-team All-American by the Sporting News basketball yearbook.
ASU guard Jahii Carson, also named to the second team, was the only other Pac-12 player named to the publication’s three All-American teams.
In May, the Sporting News placed Arizona at No. 5 on its Top 25 rankings, which are also appearing in the basketball yearbook.
• Miller’s in-season radio show will be moved to the Union Public House, at East River Road and North Campbell Avenue. It will air Mondays at 7:05 p.m., from Dec. 2 to March 10.
• Former UA guard Nic Wise is leaving today to play in Turkey this season, according to his Twitter account. He signed a contract earlier this month to play for Akhisar Belediyespor after spending last season in Poland.