For all of the intelligence Arizona invests in its recruiting efforts, sometimes unexpected sources can tip them off on a player.
Like the player himself.
“I wanted to be recruited by them,” said Parker Jackson-Cartwright, a senior point guard from Los Angeles Loyola High School. “I just kind of put it out there through AAU coaches that it would be nice if they would recruit me. I really wanted their teaching because I really liked them.”
It didn’t take long for the interest to become mutual. Cartwright is expected to sign a national letter of intent with the Wildcats today.
Here’s how the recruitment played out for the first player to commit to UA’s 2014 recruiting class:
Shortly after Jackson-Cartwright expressed interest during his sophomore year of high school in 2011-12, opening himself beyond a boyhood notion of playing for hometown UCLA, Arizona coaches began watching him.
And once the electric 5-foot-7-inch Parker-Cartwright faced another UA point guard target, USC-bound Jordan McLaughlin of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Etiwanda High, the Wildcats were sold.
“They watched Parker play in that game and decided he was a player they needed,” Scout.com recruiting analyst Josh Gershon said.
“From that time on, toward the end of Parker’s sophomore year, (UA) turned it up a notch.”
Not only is Parker-Cartwright only 5-7, but he also suffered a high right-ankle sprain that kept him out much of the summer travel circuit in 2012 and part of the 2012-13 season.
Then, after he finished last season strongly, Jackson-Cartwright suffered another ankle sprain that kept him out much of last spring.
Yet injuries never scared off the Wildcats.
“Arizona still stayed with me and they never backed out,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “That’s part of the reason I’m so loyal to them. I was uncertain and they invest a lot of money in this. I understand that.”
Jackson-Cartwright visited UA unofficially three times before he took his official (paid) visit earlier last month for the Red-Blue Game. At that point, he was long past needing any more convincing.
“It’s like going back home when I go to Arizona,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “Everybody’s so welcoming to me. The experience, the atmosphere, is always amazing to me.”
The end game
Jackson-Cartwright committed to Arizona in February, before his junior season ended, but wasn’t allowed to sign until this week.
The gap in time left room for rumors to grow.
Last month, Jackson-Cartwright said he felt compelled to post the following Twitter message:
“Just to clear up some confusion. I’m a Arizona Wildcat for life! You heard it hear (sic) first.”
When asked about what caused the tweet, Jackson-Cartwright said it was just rumors, noise, nothing really that could take away from what he really wanted.
“A prestigious school and for a point guard like me to follow in that tradition…” Jackson-Cartwright said. When Arizona “came after me, it was a like a dream come true.”