If today's expected letter-of-intent signings are any indication, the Arizona Wildcats could be looking at a Pac-12 basketball championship before long.
Not only has second-year coach Sean Miller recruited well - bringing in the nation's No. 8 recruiting class, according to Rivals and ESPNU - but the rest of the league has not exactly shaken up the national scene.
No other Pac-12 teams have a class in ESPNU's Top 15, and only Oregon (19) is in the Rivals Top 20.
Scout.com, which will release its national team rankings today, says Arizona has the best Pac-10 recruiting class, ahead of Oregon, Washington and USC, in that order.
But aside from the Oregon commitment by top-25 guard Jabari Brown of Oakland, and top-30 guard Tony Wroten's decision to stay home and play for Washington, there hasn't been much recruiting buzz coming out of the Pac-10 except at Arizona.
That could translate into continued doldrums for a conference that lost its swagger when seven underclassmen became 2008 NBA first-round picks, including UCLA's Kevin Love, USC's O.J. Mayo and Arizona's Jerryd Bayless.
"This is a really down year for the Pac-10, recruiting-wise," said Evan Daniels, recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "You've got Nick, Josiah, Jabari Brown and Tony Wroten, but overall there's not a lot of depth."
It's a trend that could continue, given the nature of the West's shallower talent pool - and the competition to keep Western players in what will be the Pac-12 next season. In the past two years, Kentucky alone nabbed two top-25 players out of Oregon - Terrence Jones (2010) and Kyle Wiltjer (2011).
"I just think it's tough for the teams in the West," said Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com. "You just don't have the number of prospects out West and the teams from the East can come in and pluck some guys."
ESPNU analyst Dave Telep said, "It's a bad cycle" in the West that should prompt the league's teams to start looking elsewhere.
"You've got to invest in some different ways to bring the talent in," Telep said. "In terms of the six big leagues, they bring in the least."
However, Arizona has historically had national recruiting success, and Miller's staff has strong East Coast ties that have helped bring in sophomores Kevin Parrom and MoMo Jones as well as Sidiki Johnson.
In Johnson, Daniels said, the Wildcats gain a "piece of the puzzle" guy, who should earn time with his ruggedness and rebounding right away.
Arizona also managed to keep two of the best Western guards near home, Turner of Sacramento, Calif., and Nick Johnson of Gilbert, two guys who Telep says can be a future "all-league 1-2 punch in the backcourt."
That could result in some difficult decisions for Miller next season. According to several recruiting analysts, both Turner and Johnson are good enough to start or play significant minutes right away - but Arizona already has backcourt starters Jones and Kyle Fogg scheduled to return next season.
"They should be interchangeable," said Clark Francis, of HoopScoop said of Jones, Johnson and Turner.
"They'll all play similar minutes. But if these guys are that good, I think (Turner) probably beats (Jones) out. It's a nice problem to have."
On StarNet: Follow the Cats as the season approaches on Bruce Pascoe's blog at go.azstarnet.com/pascoe
• What: Idaho State at Arizona
• When: 3 p.m. Sunday
• TV: FSAZ, Ch 58
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
coming for next season
Breaking down UA's three-man fall recruiting class of high school seniors, who are expected to sign letters of intent today, the first day of the fall signing period:
Josiah Turner PG
• Height, weight: 6-3, 180
• Hometown, high school: Sacramento, Calif., Sacramento HS
• Rankings: 10 (Rivals), 24 (Scout), 20 (ESPNU), 40 (Hoopscoop)
• Analysis: Well-rounded, scoring-minded guard is excellent off the dribble and difficult to guard.
Nick Johnson SG
• Height, weight: 6-3, 185
• Hometown, high school: Gilbert, Findlay (Nev.) Prep
• Rankings: 40, 26, 22, 47
• Analysis: Exceptional athlete who finishes above the rim; has an improving jump shot and good defensive potential.
Sidiki Johnson PF
• Height, weight: 6-8, 220
• Hometown, high school: New York, Oak Hill (Va.) Academy
• Rankings: 71, 58, 59, 74
• Analysis: Strong rebounder who is very active in the post; is aggressive offensively - sometimes too much - but does not back down.