Arizona recruiting targets Doron Lamb, Eloy Vargas and maybe even Kadeem Jack are headed to Kentucky. Rod Odom backed out of a UA commitment to play for Vanderbilt. Ray McCallum picked his dad's Detroit team, and Josh Selby went with Kansas.
Oh well. UA coach Sean Miller knows it could be worse. He's already been there.
"This time last year, I was in Houston, Texas, trying to convince Nic (Wise) to come back for his senior year," Miller said. "I think at that point we had maybe two or three players signed for next year. We were looking at a situation where we could win 10 games, maybe, if we were lucky. It was a very, very low starting point for a lot of reasons."
This spring, even though Miller missed on several top-rated recruits and says, "I don't look at where we are right now as a great place," he still has some room for optimism.
Wise is gone, but everyone else returns from his rotation, including Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Derrick Williams. And, with a three-man class of juco forward Jesse Perry, plus high school guards Jordin Mayes and Daniel Bejarano, Miller has depth to help overcome injuries, fatigue, fouls and poor play.
"We have really 10 or 11 players who can expect to play," Miller said. "Not everybody's going to win that race, but … one of the things we're going to be is older and maybe a little deeper than we were last year."
Of course, they could have been even deeper and more talented if a guy like Selby, Lamb or Jack had signed with the Wildcats - UA still has an open scholarship for 2010-11 that may be temporarily given again to guard Dondre Wise - but Miller knew it wouldn't be easy.
"Picture a coach getting a job in April when a kid's in his junior year - it's almost too late on 70 percent of them, and with the remaining 30 (percent), there's a reason they're not as organized or far along in their recruiting," Miller said. "We swung for the fences and tried to recruit the very best we could. At times we came close and didn't finish. At times we were successful, but clearly it's (better with) a more organized approach. Your odds of success rise when you've been here at least one year."
Horne bulking up
Senior forward Jamelle Horne is up to 220 pounds after playing at 210 last season, but strength may be only half the battle.
"Like a lot of players, it's when does that light bulb go on?" Miller said. "Sometimes early, sometimes late. I do know this: a senior cares more about things than any other player on your team. It's the last time. I think Jamelle is anxious to have a final year that we can all point to as being his best at Arizona.
"I'll also tell you the depth that we have is really going to push everybody, including Jamelle, to perform every day. That's something that's healthy."
Particularly, it's Perry who is expected to provide the most pressure. Miller said he wasn't sure if Perry and Horne would play together but that Perry could play in place of Horne.
Miller said Perry is a skilled shooter who can also drive with toughness to the basket and get to the free-throw line. He's also a two-year veteran of a strong juco league.
"Not only do you have a good player, but somebody who's older and perhaps more ready," Miller said. "We want to make sure we're bringing him into an environment where he can contribute. It makes no sense to bring him in and not do it, which probably tells you that we're really planning on Jesse being able to impact our team this year."
Johnson to Oak Hill
UA commit Sidiki Johnson will spend his senior year playing for Oak Hill Academy after leaving St. Benedict's of Newark, N.J., near his home in Bronx, N.Y.
Johnson's mentor, Bernard Bowen, said the departure stemmed from the fact that St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley left to take over the Wagner program on Staten Island. Oak Hill has obvious attractions for elite-level players, with a remote location that requires players to focus on basketball and academics, plus an elite schedule.
"I wanted Sidiki in a situation where he can become a better ballplayer," Bowen said.
UA sophomore MoMo Jones, a friend of Johnson's, also spent his senior year playing for Oak Hill.
• Miller said the Wildcats have agreed to a home-and-home series with San Diego State, starting at McKale on Nov. 18 next season. The UA just finished a four-year home-and-home series with the Aztecs, with the Wildcats going 3-1.
• Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal said on a blog that he would handicap UA assistant Book Richardson at No. 2 in a race for the open Kentucky assistant coach's job. Richardson has already turned down assistant positions at St. John's and Rutgers.
On StarNet: Follow the Cats on the recruiting trail on Bruce Pascoe's blog go.azstarnet.com/pascoe
The 2010 UA recruiting class:
Daniel Bejarano • 6-5 • 200
• Hometown: Phoenix (North HS) Rating: Top 75. Position: SG or SF. Sean Miller says: "D.B. can really shoot the basketball. Not many players in this class can shoot the ball better than him."
Jesse Perry • 6-8 • 210
• Hometown: St. Louis (Logan JC, Carterville, Ill.). Rating: Top 75 (juco). Position: SF or PF. Sean Miller says: "He can really put the ball on the floor, and he's versatile in his approach. He has a toughness about him, and he's also a very capable shooter."
Jordin Mayes • 6-1 • 170
• Hometown: Los Angeles (Westchester HS). Rating: Top 100. Position: Point or shooting guard. Sean Miller says: "I look at him as very unheralded. I think he has a huge upside. One thing you look for in guards transitioning from high school to college is, 'Can they shoot the three?' … and he can really do that."