Ex-Duquesne point guard T.J. McConnell, left, Chose Arizona over Virginia.


Former Duquesne point guard T.J. McConnell has decided to transfer to Arizona.

McConnell told Virginia coaches today he would go to Arizona and is in the process of trying to reach UA coach Sean Miller to tell him he will become a Wildcat, McConnell’s father, Tim, told the Star this morning.

The Atlantic 10’s Rookie of the Year in 2011-12, McConnell opted to transfer from Duquesne last month and quickly narrowed his transfer choices to Arizona and Virginia. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining for the Wildcats after sitting out the required redshirt season.

The McConnells have a longtime relationship with Miller and his family -- both are prominent basketball families from the Pittsburgh area -- but Tim McConnell said Virginia and coach Tony Bennett offered another solid option.

“His trip to Virginia was really good and the trip to Arizona was really good,” Tim McConnell said. “It came down to T.J. making the decision that was best for him. As a parent, I really liked Virginia and said `You know what I would be happy if he goes there. I can’t lose. I’m happy either way.' It was a tough choice. I’ve gotta be honest.”

T.J. McConnell could not be reached for comment this morning but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he thought Arizona was a "great fit" and thought highly of Miller and his staff. (The Virginian-Pilot also had this post about his decision not to play for Virginia).

McConnell took his official recruiting visit to Arizona last Thursday and Friday after visiting Virginia a week before.

"Since the season ended, he knew he wanted to transfer," Tim McConnell said. "He was doing homework on schools that needed a point guard. We’ve known Sean (Miller) a long time and thought it would be a good fit for him."

Tim McConnell is a lifelong friend of Miller. As youngsters, the two used to appear at halftime shows to show off their ballhandling tricks, while McConnell has also coached against Miller’s father, John, a legendary high school coach outside Pittsburgh.

In addition, T.J. became familiar with UA during Duquesne’s visit to McKale Center, and for an early season game in the 2K Sports Classic. McConnell had nine points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the Nov. 9 game.

“He said it was a good trip to Arizona,” Tim McConnell said. “There were good facilities and good fan support.”

T.J. McConnell finished the season with an average of 11.4 points and 5.5 assists per game, and better than a 2-to-1 assist-turnover ratio.

The Wildcats now have six members of their 2012 recruiting class, putting them one over their scholarship limit for the 2012-13 season. At least one more scholarship is expected to be created this spring due to roster turnover, however.

Among other question marks, UA point guard Josiah Turner remains indefinitely suspended.

Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball