Arizona started its early offseason in style Thursday, bringing five-star guard Terrance Ferguson of Texas in for an official recruiting visit.
The Wildcats might have a good shot at landing him, too.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound wing decommitted from Alabama earlier this month. He is now also considering Baylor, Kansas and the Crimson Tide.
Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels said the Wildcats are in “great shape” with Ferguson, and 24/7 analyst Jerry Meyer also said current speculation suggests he’ll end up at Arizona.
One big factor appears to be that Ferguson played on the USA Basketball team that the UA’s Sean Miller coached during its gold-medal run in the FIBA U19 World Championship last July. Ferguson told the Star later that month that he’d “love to be coached” by Miller, and Meyer said Ferguson was believed to have really enjoyed the experience.
According to 24/7’s “Crystal Ball,” as of Thursday afternoon, 39 percent of analysts said Ferguson will choose the Wildcats — including the last 10 to record their picks. Baylor has 35 percent and Kansas has 13, with Alabama at 9 percent.
While UA already has commitments from five-star guards Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins, all three of them have different games that could fit into one lineup. Simmons is a combo guard who could spend a lot of time at point guard, while Alkins is a power guard in the mold of former UA wing Stanley Johnson.
According to Daniels, Ferguson is an elite athlete, shooter and perimeter defender.
“He would mesh well with Rawle because of how different their strengths are,” Daniels said. “Rawle is a strong, physical, attacking wing, where Terrance relies on his jump shot and athleticism.”
Meyer said Ferguson isn’t great at ball-handling, passing or creating his own shot, but is a very strong spot-up shooter and athlete.
“He’s more catch-and-shoot, and he’s good in transition,” Meyer said. “He’s really athletic and fast, and finishes well in transition.”
Meyer said all three freshmen-to-be could play on the floor together, though there wouldn’t be a true point guard in the bunch. Simmons is expected to play at both guard spots, while Alkins’ size makes him particularly versatile.
“Alkins can play point and Simmons can play it, but I think they’re better and more valuable not playing point guard,” Meyer said. “And you can go small and play Rawle at the four. He’s a big, strong, physical guy.”
Alkins appears to be embracing the idea that Ferguson might join him at Arizona.
Shortly after he committed to the Wildcats earlier this month, Alkins asked UA fans via Twitter “to show him why U of A has the best fans in America!!” When Ferguson tweeted on Wednesday night that he would be arriving at Arizona on Wednesday, Alkins replied, “Lets Get It Done.”
Arizona also has a signed letter of intent from Finnish power forward Lauri Markkanen and has been aiming to bring in five or six total players in its 2016 recruiting class. The Wildcats are losing four seniors, while guard Allonzo Trier could at least test his value in the NBA draft this spring. The UA also has a scholarship opening carried over from this season.
Among UA’s other targets is five-star forward Josh Jackson, but Meyer said Jackson is now appearing more likely to head to Kansas. On Jackson’s Crystal Ball, 43 percent of analysts are predicting Kansas, while 29 percent have Michigan State and 24 percent have UA.
- Markkanen was named Thursday to the World team in the Hoop Summit game to be played April 9 in Portland, Oregon. Ferguson and Jackson are scheduled to play against him with USA Basketball.
- Ferguson will join Simmons on the East team in the McDonald’s All-American Game next Wednesday in Chicago. Jackson, who spent this season at Prolific Prep in Napa, California, will play for the West team.
- No Arizona players were named to the Pac-12 All-Academic teams named Thursday. Oregon’s Casey Benson, Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson and Junior Longrus, Stanford’s Dorian Pickens and Utah’s Brandon Taylor were on the first team.