The NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period through at least the end of May, meaning any contact between prospects and coaches has to be done electronically rather than in-person.
Thankfully for Arizona, these pandemic-related restrictions shouldn’t have as much of an impact on its recruiting as it would in recent offseasons and did last spring.
“For us, we’re not going to have the normal turnover that we’ve had the last three years,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said Wednesday. “It doesn’t, in my opinion, hurt us as much as if we were losing what we have.”
Arizona had to replace its entire starting lineup after last season, resulting in it adding six players in April and May despite not being able to bring them to campus for an official visit. All told, the Wildcats brought in nine new scholarship players for 2020-21.
“It’s not easy, it’s not to anyone’s advantage to have that happen,” Miller said.
That number is expected to be much lower for 2021-22. Arizona signed three 2021 recruits in November, adding 4-star guards Shane Dezonie, Shane Nowell and K.J. Simpson, which puts it one over the 13-scholarship limit. Yet it’s still in the market for another player.
In the past week the UA reportedly contacted Robert Morris transfer AJ Bramah and Enoch Boakye, a 4-star center from Canada who decommitted from Michigan State on Monday and who is considering reclassifying from 2022 to 2021.
While seniors Terrell Brown Jr. and Ira Lee will be off the books (though each can return for 2021-22 without it counting toward the scholarship limit) no one else on the current roster is certain to depart. Freshman Bennedict Mathurin has started to get on draft scouts’ radars but the likelihood of him turning pro isn’t anywhere close to what it was a year ago with Josh Green, Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji.
Same goes for Azuolas Tubelis, who has definite pro potential but still needs to develop, while everyone else on the roster would certainly benefit from at least one more year on the team. The more likely scenario would be that one or more players would transfer for a better opportunity, but there are no certainties in that camp, either.
Miller says he hopes that, by keeping the majority of this team intact, it can lead to big things in 2021-22.
“I think that some of our younger players in particular have a huge upside waiting (for) them,” he said. “I think some of the recruiting that you guys are used to seeing is going to be adjusted. My hope is that we get more experienced. Retention being more at the top of the list. Mixing in, certainly, players each and every spring, each and every fall. Not all five starters, not eight or nine scholarship players, and that will really be to our advantage, trust me. Some of the defensive things that we can get better at. That experience, that returning experience will solve that.”