Eloy Vargas won't be around, but the Arizona basketball program is having a significant recruiting weekend anyway.
The Wildcats are hosting South Carolina shooting guard Damien Leonard, a top-25 prospect in the class of 2011 who suddenly counts the Wildcats among his final five choices, according to his traveling team coach, Willis Holliday.
Leonard's other semifinalists are Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Clemson, while DePaul (under former Clemson coach Oliver Purnell) could also enter the list.
Holliday said he and Leonard would visit today and Sunday and then, possibly, return next season to watch a UA game in person. Leonard has already visited several schools in the Southeast unofficially and plans to go to Oklahoma State next month.
"Damien wants to come out to visit the schools and then come back to watch them play," Holliday said. "We're going to make sure it's the right fit. We want to get that feeling of what it would be like with Damien coming down the floor shooting a jump shot."
Holliday said Leonard quickly became serious about Arizona after the Wildcats began recruiting him last season.
"He always liked Arizona," Holliday said. It was "the history of Arizona. We know what took place in the past and you look at the players going to the next level. That's an impressive group of people."
Holliday said Sean Miller told them Leonard would fit perfectly into his offense. At 6 feet 5 inches, and with perhaps another inch or two to grow, Leonard is a skilled shooter who is rated No. 14 overall in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com. Scout.com rates him No. 30.
"He's an incredible shooter who has unlimited range," Holliday said. "He's very consistent and a crafty scorer who can get to the rim."
A former shooting guard in the 1980s for Georgia Southern, Holliday said he has worked with Leonard since he was a 12-year-old post player in junior high, knowing he could become a better prospect on the wing.
Now, Holliday is advising Leonard to take a careful approach to his recruitment, saying Leonard will likely put off a planned July commitment and instead try to narrow his list down in the summer to three that he will take a closer look at in the fall.
Vargas plans scrambled
Originally with plans to travel this week to Arizona first and Seattle last, then Seattle first and Arizona last, Vargas did neither.
The planned unofficial visit to the UA by the juco big man from Miami Dade College has been postponed indefinitely.
The Wildcats may wind up keeping their final scholarship for 2010-11 open. Already, they have none on paper for 2011-12 and are recruiting several top-rated guards such as Leonard, Nick Johnson of Gilbert, and Jahii Carson of Mesa.
Carson's traveling team coach, Etop Udo-Ema, said Arizona formally offered Carson a scholarship on Thursday. Carson decommitted from Oregon State last month but is still considering the Beavers.
Silverswords after Shumpert
Transferring UA forward D.J. Shumpert plans to look at several Southern California schools over the next week - UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, Cal State-Northridge and Cal State-Fullerton - said Udo-Ema, who also coached the former Santa Rita standout.
But it is Division II Chaminade that is going after Shumpert "big time," according to Udo-Ema. Shumpert could play immediately next season for the Silverswords since they are not in Division I, where transfers are required to sit out one season.
Fullerton game set
Arizona has contracted a one-time home game next season against Fullerton on Dec. 8. The Wildcats have only two holes remaining on their 2010-11 schedule: Another one-time home game (likely NAU on Dec. 27) and a two-year home-and-home series to begin at McKale Center.