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June 9, 2006 at 9:52 AM

Revising Arizona

Here’s an interesting story on Arizona’s apparent loss of top prospect Jerryd Bayless from Greg Hansen, columnist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.
The column details how Bayless has decided not to follow through on his public commitment to Arizona and is instead seeking out other schools. Hansen reports that Lute Olson’s decision to stop recruiting other players in the wake of the commitment by Bayless last November cost Arizona a chance at signing a number of other players.
Hansen contrasts what other coaches have apparently done in recruiting Bayless despite his public commitment to Arizona with how Olson has historically handled recruiting.
He writes that “Olson’s system is to withdraw from recruiting chases whenever a player makes a public commitment” and says that “when Brandon Roy selected hometown Washington in 2002, Arizona coaches called with congratulations.”
I have no reason to doubt any of that.
The anecdote about Roy jibes with everything I’ve heard Brandon say about his recruiting. Roy, in fact, has always seemed to have nothing but good feelings toward Olson and Arizona, telling me once how awed he was that Olson was the first coach to call him on the first day that recruiting calls could be made when he was a junior in high school.
Still, as I read Hansen’s column, I figured longtime Washington Husky fans would respond with two words — Jason Terry.
Terry is currently helping lead the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Title.
But on Sept. 22, 1994, he was a senior-to-be at Franklin High School who was publicly committed to attend the University of Washington, as this story from the archives of the Times reports.
And as this story from the Times six days later reports, Terry showed up at the press conference when Donald Watts announced his commitment to UW, proudly posing for pictures with Watts while wearing Husky caps.
I was there that day, covering it for the Bellevue Journal-American, and I remember Slick Watts running around telling everyone that “you are looking at the backcourt that will lead the Huskies to the Final Four.”
I remember thinking that Slick — one of the more upbeat persons in the history of the world — was just letting his enthusiasm run a little amok on what was a genuinely happy day for the Watts family.
Instead, considering how close Washington came in 1998 when Donald Watts was a junior, Slick Watts might have been right.
One problem: Terry was by then playing for Lute Olson and the University of Arizona, having changed his mind about a month after his public commitment to UW.
Here’s a column from the Times archives on Terry’s reversal.
In it, Blaine Newnham states that “there are no villains” and that Arizona “didn’t pirate” Terry away. Instead, Arizona began recruiting Terry again after Terry’s mother apparently called Lute Olson and asked him to again court her son — Terry happily signed with Arizona a few weeks later and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1997 national title while the Huskies made it to the Sweet 16 a year later without Terry in the fold.
And that has always been the story, though Bob Bender — as is the case with most coaches who lose a recruit — was always loathe to even broach the subject, so I’m not sure any of us who covered the team during his time there ever really knew how he felt about it.
Still, I imagine a few UW fans are thinking that maybe karma is finally getting back at the Wildcats.
Jones update: I couldn’t find much on how Bobby Jones performed Thursday at the Orlando Pre-Draft camp. All the writeups seemed to focus on other players.
Here’s one from that doesn’t mention Jones — who is apparently playing for Team Two — but does have some interesting information about UCLA guard Jordan Farmar, indicating his stock is rising.
And here’s another report on the happenings in Orlando.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA


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