Arizona Recruits Shine Brightly at Hoophall Classic, Providing Glimpse of Potent Future | Zagsblog
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Sunday / May 22.
  • Arizona Recruits Shine Brightly at Hoophall Classic, Providing Glimpse of Potent Future

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    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — On Saturday at the Hoophall Classic, Arizona assistant Book Richardson had a front-row seat for a view of the future of his program.

    Three Class of 2017 Arizona signees — DeAndre Ayton, Brandon Randolph and Ira Lee — all played, and played well, at Blake Arena. Brian Bowen, an Arizona target who is considering five schools, also was effective, scoring 18 points in Monday’s loss to Marvin Bagley and Sierra Canyon (CA).

    In the showcase game of the day on Saturday, the 6-foot-5 Randolph went off for 30 points en route to game MVP honors as Westtown (PA) beat Ayton and Hillcrest Prep (AZ), 66-54, on ESPN. Ayton, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 19 points while battling Westtown big man Mohamed Bamba.

    “He’s definitely a force, so I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him, Ira and [Alex] Barcello],” Randolph told me in reference to Arizona’s 2017 class, ranked No. 3 behind Kentucky and UCLA by Scout.com. “They’re all great players and great guys.”

    Hillcrest led 30-24 at the half but Randolph and teammate Cam Reddish (22 points), a 6-8 point guard who is being recruited by the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Syracuse, keyed Westtown’s 42-24 second half.

    Randolph said he and Ayton exchanged a little friendly chatter during the game.

    “We just talk smack on the court, obviously” Randolph said. “He’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s not a foul, that’s not a foul.’ And I’d be like ‘Mo got you on that one.’ We just talk on the court but outside the court we don’t really talk that much.”

    They will all talk a great deal beginning in the summer when they arrive on campus to play for coach Sean Miller.

    Miller has never coached in a Final Four but there will be pressure to do so next year once this group arrives on campus. Arizona could lose freshman power forward Lauri Markkanen (No. 8 on DraftExpress.com) and sophomore shooting guard Allonzo Trier (No. 56) to this year’s NBA Draft.

    Still, the site projects Arizona to have three picks in 2018 in Ayton (No. 1), freshman guard Kobi Simmons (No. 30) and freshman wing Rawle Alkins (No. 40).

    Throw in Randolph, Lee and Barcello and that’s a pretty potent team.

    “Next year I definitely know we’re all going to improve our strong points and our weak points,” Randolph said. “It’s going to be fun watching us next year definitely.”

    The 6-8 Lee, meantime, went for 14 points as the Crossroads School (CA) lost to Cambridge Rindge and Latin, 46-36.

    He showcased some nice athleticism as a four man.

    “I played OK, I had a double-double but at the end of the day we didn’t play team ball and that’s why we lost,” Lee told me.

    Next year, he said Arizona wants him to be a “defensive energy guy and hit some threes, too. Tonight it wasn’t falling for me but that’s just something that develops as time goes on.”

    Lee said he’s known Ayton and Barcello since the eighth grade from their West Coast ties.

    “Oh, they’re my guys, we text every day,” he said.

    He remembers meeting Ayton at the Pangos All-American Camp in eighth grade.

    “He’s always been big, he’s always been talented,” Lee said.

    How good can they be when they all get to Arizona?

    “We got a chance to win a national championship,” he said. “DeAndre is a big part of that. Honestly, we’re all a big part of that. You know, we all come together, we lock in, that’s a national championship, no doubt.”

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    Arizona’s Richardson also scouted several other players, including 2018 point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who won MVP honors after scoring 25 points in Hudson Catholic’s win; 7-1 Archbishop Molloy junior big man Moses Brown; and 6-6 Bishop Gorman junior wing Jamal Bay.

     



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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.