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Jennings a lock for Europe?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 8, 2008

We’ll be writing up some more detailed updates of each Pac-10 team before too long — I swear! — but I wanted to pass along this little tidbit I ran across, because I think it has a lot of impact on the Cougs.

According to this report in the New York Times, no one thinks Arizona super recruit Brandon Jennings will actually set another foot in Tucson.

Jennings is having difficulty qualifying academically for admission, which has led him to publicly bandy about the idea of playing his (presumably) one season out of high school in Europe. He’s even floated the idea of heading to Europe even if he does qualify.

Why does that matter to us?

Just as Cal figured to be fighting with the Cougs to get into the top half of the Pac-10 and watched their effort to do that take a major hit when Ryan Anderson decided to stay in the NBA draft — a wise decision for sure (and I think New Jersey got an absolute steal late in the first round with him) — Arizona is another team in that situation.

The Wildcats did get a boost when Chase Budinger decided to return to school, but that’s been about all the good news there has been. Lute Olson’s return has been filled with drama, including the exodus of the coach-in-waiting, Kevin O’Neill, and assistant coaches Josh Pastner and Miles Simon, which led to the decommitting of top prospect Emmanuel Negedu. The recruiting class is weaker overall than what generally lands in Tuscon.

The Wildcats do have a very good core in Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill, and if Jennings arrives, it might really be the return of Arizona to truly elite status, as Olson predicts. Jennings is just the kind of fast-paced point guard Olson loves. But if Jennings doesn’t make it, the Wildcats will have major problems at the point, with the departure of Jarryd Bayless and the graduation of Jawann McClellan.

Wise, who isn’t a natural point, would probably have to slide over. That wouldn’t necessarily be a huge problem for a lot of teams, but Olson promised on his return to get away from O’Neill’s defense-first mentality and get back to “Wildcat basketball,” which means running and running and running. Can Wise do that for them? I doubt it.

So, Wildcat fans will continue holding their collective breath. Probably in futility, if you believe that report.

Curious what all the hype is about? You can seen Jennings in action on a video after the jump. Keep in mind, it’s that cruddy AAU ball that allows players to do pretty much anything they want all game long, but you can clearly see the physical tools.


6 Responses to “Jennings a lock for Europe?”

  1. Philip38 said

    Wise NOT a natural point guard? He’s always been a PG.
    REF: “Wise, who isn’t a natural point, would probably have to slide over.”

    As I remember, Nick Wise was recruited by Arizona to be their point guard. Bayless, who is not a point guard, had to slide over when Wise was injured. had him listed as the #21 Point guard in the class of 2006 behind such well-known PGs as Ty Lawson (#1), Sherron Collins (Kansas-#2), Jarvis Crittenton(#3), Mike Conley(#4), D. J. Augustin(#5) and Adrian Oliver(Washington-#8)

    From the Arizona Wildcats website:
    Kingwood High School in Houston: Rated as the No. 26 overall prospect and the No. 4 point guard in the nation by Bob Gibbons’ All-Star Sports Top 100

    It’s interesting to note that while Nick Wise was’s 21st rated PG in the class of 2006, Washington State recruit Xavier Thames is the #23 rated PG in the class of 2009. I don’t know where Bob Gibbons rates Xavier Thames. His database is “under construction.”

  2. Grady said

    I’m glad to see that AAU basketball is now being officiated by refs from the AND1 mixtape tour.

  3. Nuss said

    I wasn’t aware of that. I don’t know if it was just the way things shook out when Wise got hurt, but Bayless was most definitely the point guard and Wise most definitely the shooting guard when that team was coming down the stretch. In fact, Wise looked much more like an assassin scorer when he was healthy — that guy was explosive.

    Maybe he *can* run the point for them — I just didn’t see it at all last year.

  4. Coug1990 said

    According to ESPN, it is confirmed now that Arizona recruit is heading to Europe instead of trying to become eligible. This is going to hurt Arizona a lot, can’t say that I feel sorry for them. This helps us as far as Pac 10 standings.

  5. Coug1990 said

    On another note, former Cougar James Donaldson is running for the Seattle City Council. I hope it is for Nick Licata’s seat.

  6. Travis said

    Brandon Jennings going to Europe is not going to take anything away from the NBA, It might actually improve the skill of these players better so when drafted and invested in by teams they are getting more back initially and it is not so long term. I don’t really see this as a bad thing at all. Besides, these kids hardly ever graduate from college.

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