UA basketball: Miller, Wildcats aiming high with five-star visitors

2013-09-13T00:00:00Z 2013-09-17T12:42:39Z UA basketball: Miller, Wildcats aiming high with five-star visitorsBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Sean Miller is swinging for the fences this weekend and, really, why not?

Already having pulled in five high school All-Americans in the past two recruiting classes, the Arizona basketball coach is scheduled to host another two five-star players in Stanley Johnson and Cliff Alexander for official recruiting visits this weekend.

Both players are rated as high as No. 2 overall in the class of 2014, according to the major recruiting websites.

Miller is “not shying away going after the top players and sort of seeing what happens,” says Jerry Meyer, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.

Whether both will actually choose to make their college home in Tucson appears unlikely: Johnson’s longheld interest in Arizona is being challenged by Kentucky and maybe even USC while Alexander’s rather opaque recruitment is believed to be led by Kansas and Illinois.

In fact, according to 247’s “Crystal Ball,” a compilation of predictions by recruiting writers all over the country, only 40 percent of analysts and writers have Johnson going to Arizona and none have Alexander choosing the Wildcats.

But there still may be something worthwhile in bringing Alexander to town anyway.

“Anytime you can get a top-five prospect that’s willing to come on campus, of course you have to say ‘yes’ and try to land him,” says Josh Gershon, a California-based analyst for “I wouldn’t say (Alexander) is a player Arizona is counting on by any means. But Stanley Johnson has been a player Sean Miller has prioritized almost since he arrived at Arizona. I think it comes down to Arizona and Kentucky.”

Johnson indeed has become a familiar face for the Wildcats. He already visited Arizona for last season’s Red-Blue Game, along with fellow 2014 UA target Justise Winslow and 2014 UA commit Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Arizona coaches then followed Johnson around constantly on the recruiting circuit this spring and summer while he played for the Oakland Soldiers travel team, whose alums include UA players Nick Johnson and Brandon Ashley.

Then the Wildcats went all-out on Johnson this week. According to Johnson’s coach at Mater Dei High School, Gary McKnight, UA assistant coaches Joe Pasternack and Damon Stoudamire stopped by Mater Dei High School on Monday to see Johnson, as did former UA players Miles Simon and Dylan Rigdon.

Then, on Monday night, Miller joined his assistants for an in-home visit to Johnson and will undoubtedly give him another sales pitch this weekend on campus.

“At this time I can’t tell how he’s leaning but Arizona has done a very good job of recruiting him,” McKnight said.

Whatever the case, it could be a while before either decides. Alexander has already visited hometown DePaul and he’s still believed to be interested in Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Memphis with no end to his recruitment in sight.

McKnight said Johnson probably wouldn’t decide until January. Johnson is still scheduled to visit Kentucky for its “Big Blue Madness” ceremonies on Oct. 12, Florida on Nov. 30 and take yet-to-be-determined official visits to Kansas and Oregon.

Johnson is also planning to visit USC unofficially on Sept. 20 and the recent commitment of point guard Jordan McLaughlin to USC over UCLA was a sign the new staff of Trojans coach Andy Enfield is rebuilding local inroads in Southern California.

“With Stanley it’s Arizona and Kentucky,” Scout analyst Evan Daniels said. “But I don’t think you can sleep on USC, either.”

Contact reporter Bruce Pascoe at or 573-4145. On Twitter: @brucepascoe

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 16 2 0 0.889 34 4 0 0.895
Utah 13 5 0 0.722 26 9 0 0.743
Oregon 12 5 0 0.706 25 10 0 0.714
UCLA 11 7 0 0.611 22 14 0 0.611
Arizona State 9 9 0 0.500 19 16 0 0.543
Stanford 9 9 0 0.500 22 13 0 0.629
Oregon State 8 10 0 0.444 16 14 0 0.533
Colorado 7 10 0 0.412 16 16 0 0.500
Washington State 7 11 0 0.389 13 18 0 0.419
California 6 11 0 0.353 17 15 0 0.531
Washington 5 13 0 0.278 16 15 0 0.516
USC 3 14 0 0.176 12 19 0 0.387

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Stanford at
Old Dominion
3/31 6:00 pm
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