Arizona basketball: UA's attention-grabber

Recruits immediately will get slice of history upon entering McKale
2011-08-17T00:03:00Z 2014-07-24T10:17:36Z Arizona basketball: UA's attention-grabberBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 17, 2011 12:03 am  • 

When future Arizona recruiting targets are escorted into McKale Center, they'll first have to defend the dribbling Sean Elliott and Damon Stoudamire. Block Steve Kerr's three-pointer. And try to stare down the steely eyed Jerryd Bayless.

Or at least it might seem that way.

Arizona has life-size photographic cutouts of its 34 NBA draft picks since 1988, the most of any college program in that time, adorning both sides of a southeast hallway that is part of a $250,000 renovation to be completed later this month.

After UA coaches bring recruits down that corridor, they'll turn left to be surrounded on one side by plaques representing all Wildcat Pac-10 regular-season or tournament champions and, on the other side, by photos of UA alums hoisting NBA championship trophies.

It's all about a glamorous and recent slice of Arizona basketball history, intended to appeal to recruits who were born well after Elliott and Kerr took the Wildcats to their first Final Four, in 1988.

"The No. 1 reason behind improving that hallway is probably from a recruiting standpoint," said Ryan Hansen, the Arizona associate AD and former Olson aide who oversaw the hallway's design. "It's not to replicate what's already done in the Hall of Champions. It's not intended to be historical from Day 1."

It's intended to get recruits to project how they could develop at Arizona and how the game-day atmosphere feels - even when visiting in the dead of May or June.

That's when some young talents, such as Southern California guard Gabe York, visit McKale. York committed to the Wildcats in early July after being impressed during an unofficial visit to Tucson in June.

"The way recruiting is going now, most decisions are made before they can come on an official visit" during the fall of their senior year, Hansen said. "It used to be, 'Come to a game and get a feel.' Then it was, 'Come in the fall and watch a football game.' Now, very rarely is there is a game, so it's 'How can we bring that atmosphere to McKale without a game?'"

UA aimed to replicate the game-day experience in part by using photo wallpaper backdrops featuring panoramic views of McKale Center at its best - during the UA-Stanford home game last season (an emotional game played a day after the Jan. 8 shootings) and the Feb. 19 "white-out" game against Washington.

"We wanted to be consistent with our theme," UA coach Sean Miller said. "Our theme is really simple - it's a players' program, the incredible past that's been shaped by so many great teams, players and coaches. Continuing to honor that is a big part of it; developing our current team … and, obviously, recruiting the future is a big part of it."

The entire basketball upgrade project of $2.75 million - which also included a basketball-specific weight room and a new locker room - began in early 2010 thanks to a pledge of $2.5million from Cole and Jeannie Davis and another $250,000 from Miller and his wife, Amy.

UA officials John Perrin and Steve Kozachik said the hallway renovations cost between $200,000 and $300,000, and the locker room and weight room roughly split the rest of the budget.

Among the other elements:

• A coaches' hallway features Lute Olson and his teams' accomplishments, his iconic signature and life-size photograph grabbing the attention of anyone who approaches the basketball offices from the south doors of McKale Center.

Also honored: Fred Enke, who coached the Wildcats for 36 years, and Fred Snowden, who took the Wildcats to two NCAA tournaments and became the first African-American coach in Division I.

• A giant video screen in front of the offices. It may be used before games to show other televised games and, during recruiting visits, to show recruits customized highlight videos.

• Ceiling treatments that avert eyes from pipes and fixtures, as well as extended walls where bare cinder block is not visible.

• A renovated hallway around the downstairs locker room that features tributes to every UA Elite Eight team.

• On the final turn between the locker room and the court, a wall with a UA logo and Miller's message. The words read: "A Players' Program. Past. Current. Future."

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

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington 3 4 0 0.429 14 5 0 0.737
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

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