HANSEN

Greg Hansen: UA lacks Huskies' local talent, but Sabino grad a start

2012-04-11T00:00:00Z 2012-04-11T16:07:34Z Greg Hansen: UA lacks Huskies' local talent, but Sabino grad a startGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 11, 2012 12:00 am  • 

If anyone is still looking for an explanation why Sean Miller examined the Maryland coaching vacancy (and its fertile recruiting turf) last year, these figures just became available:

Over the last 18 seasons, Arizona has gotten 55 points from Tucsonans. Here's the box score: John Ash, 32 points; Fil Torres, 16; Andy Brown, 5; D.J. Shumpert, 2.

By comparison, Miller competes in the same conference with Lorenzo Romar's Washington Huskies, who have gotten at least 14,771 points from greater Seattle-area products across the same 18 seasons.

Here's the Huskies' box: Jon Brockman, 1,805; Isaiah Thomas, 1,721; Brandon Roy, 1,477; Nate Robinson, 1,283; Donald Watts, 1,158; Will Conroy, 1,113; Doug Wrenn, 942; Ryan Appleby, 888; Tre Simmons, 864; Venoy Overton, 857; Mike Jensen, 751; Tony Wroten, 559; Abdul Gaddy, 536; Spencer Hawes, 461; Grant Leep, 356.

It's ridiculous. Competing against that kind of recruiting advantage can wear on a coach and lead him to look for work elsewhere.

And I didn't do the math for a half-dozen other Seattle-area UW products who scored a handful of garbage time points in that period. The final total, Seattle vs. Tucson, is actually more than 15,000 to 55.

That's why Monday's announcement that Arizona will extend a scholarship to former Sabino Sabercat power forward Matt Korcheck had so much significance. After the Cochise College sophomore redshirts the 2012-13 season, Korcheck will have two seasons to add to Arizona's sad total of 55 local points.

The irony is that Seattle's surplus of talent is such that the Huskies trumped Arizona's signing of Korcheck with the acquisition of yet another Seattle-area prospect.

To replace NBA-bound Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, the UW today is expected sign the nation's top junior-college scorer (28.4), Tacoma Community College shooting guard Mark McLaughlin, a former Baylor signee who chose the Huskies over Gonzaga and West Virginia.

College basketball is a global game, but it still spins on homegrown and regional talent the same way it did when the Pac-10 was formed 34 years ago. If you've got good local ballplayers, and if you can keep them home, you can play at the highest level.

Oregon State's brief period (1981-85) of glory days, a 117-29 stretch and three Pac-10 titles, was the result of a mother lode of Oregon-bred talent. All-conference players Ray Blume, A.C. Green, Charlie Sitton and Mark Radford didn't have to leave the state to play for the Beavers.

Except for the once-in-a-lifetime arrival of Cholla High School's Sean Elliott from 1986-89, Tucson hasn't blessed the Wildcats with another star-power local player in the modern era.

In retrospect, it's amazing that Lute Olson was so successful here.

It wasn't Olson who discovered the lack of local recruiting power in Tucson. It was Fred Snowden, and things haven't changed in 40 years.

In the decade of basketball from 1970-71 to 1979-80, just one Tucson player, 7-foot Canyon del Oro grad Brian Jung, played a basketball game for Arizona. It's mind-numbing. Jung scored 51 points over two seasons and transferred to Northwestern.

Snowden built his teams with players from everywhere but here. His collapse began in the late '70s when he said he developed a fear of flying, and it seriously limited his recruiting work.

The first sign that Snowden's days as a basketball coach were numbered was when he started recruiting Tucson players. Before being forced to resign in 1982, Snowden's suddenly local roster included Sunnyside's Greg Cook, Cholla's Harvey Thompson, Tucson's John Vlahogeorge and CDO's Mark Jung, Brian's brother.

All started games in Snowden's final season, 1981-82. Indeed, it was almost a curse to have Tucson players on your roster.

In the sandwich year between Snowden and Olson, Arizona's roster added Sahuaro's David Haskin and Flowing Wells' Troy Cooke.

Arizona went 4-24. Olson was hired and resumed a national recruiting program. With the exception of Elliott, Olson's only local scholarship in 25 years went to Sunnyside's Deron Johnson.

The last time Arizona recruited a player from the state's junior college circuit, the ACCAC, Pima College's Greg Cook punched a teammate in the face and was suspended after playing just five games in 1980. The team collapsed, finishing 6-12 in the Pac-10, and Snowden was soon gone.

Now comes Korcheck, an athletic and explosive power forward whose game is similar to that of ex-Wildcat national championship power forward Bennett Davison.

Korcheck isn't going to score 14,771 points at Arizona, but I'll bet he exceeds 55 and that he doesn't punch anyone in the kisser. He's part of the new start in a new era of UA basketball.

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


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