Early signing winner...

By: Tom Avacado



as  I've stated it will take 3 5 stars for #1, but who cares. "Arizona basketball is dead"

 

While speaking for the first time about his top-rated fall recruiting class Tuesday, Arizona coach Sean Miller stopped at one point to gather Arizona’s four letters of intent. Then he put them down, one at a time.

“Here’s one,” he said, waving off a question as he set the second paper down on the interview podium. “Here’s two. There’s three. There’s four.”

Miller’s tone was defiant, and his words were proud.

He spoke of the talent, character and work ethics of signees Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Terry Armstrong and Christian Koloko, and spoke just as passionately about the effort he and his staff made in landing them.

After last season ended, Miller had just six players lined up for this season. Then he landed five more to play this fall, while also landing grad transfer Stone Gettings for the 2019-20 season. Miller and Arizona then signed another four for next season, including two players — Mannion and Green — who are listed as five-star recruits.

A fifth addition, four-star forward Zeke Nnaji, committed after the fall signing period ended last week and was not part of Tuesday’s discussion. Arizona initially publicized Brandon Williams and Shareef O’Neal a year ago after they signed nonbinding scholarship papers. When attempts were made to ask if Nnaji had done the same, Miller responded by flashing the four LOIs.

Counting Nnaji’s pending addition, that’s a total of 11 recruits in the past seven months, including the since-departed Omar Thielemans.

“That’s really, really hard to do, especially in climbing the mountain of adversity that we’ve certainly been responsible for climbing,” Miller said. “I would say that we’ve worked seven days a week, oftentimes 20 hours (a day), we have assistant coaches Danny Peters, Justin Gainey, Mark Phelps, that at times slept in the office, worked around the clock, traveled internationally, coast-to-coast, to make that happen.

“The effort to make that happen is unprecedented in my lifetime as a college basketball player or coach, and it’s more of that effort and togetherness of our staff and program that I’m most proud of, and I’m certainly elated to be able to welcome the class that we have.”

The fact that Miller was able to assemble the class with the federal investigation and trials into college basketball still hovering has attracted considerable national publicity. In just one example, a CBS Sports headline blared last month: “Defiant revival in the desert: An FBI investigation hasn’t stopped Arizona from hauling in top recruits.”

Asked about recruiting in that environment, Miller spoke of lessons he learned as a youth.

“You know, I learned a long time ago, (from) great parents, my dad, ‘Keep your month shut and just work hard,’” Miller said. “Everybody talks about culture in sports. Culture is what you guys write about … identity is what you control. That’s what we do. Every day. Our players and how we handle ourselves.

“If the identity here is ‘Shut up and get the job done,’ well, then, I’ll take that. That’s what we do.”

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