At a swanky club called the Conga Room in downtown Los Angeles, Arizona coach Sean Miller did a delicate dance at the site of Pac-12 media day on Friday.
The messages he wanted to get across focused along the lines of "We don't have Derrick Williams," "We just lost to Seattle Pacific," and "We're young and not that good right now." That's for the short term, of course.
To understand the long view of the Arizona program and its quest to become a national championship contender once again, feel free to wait until signing day. That's when Miller can officially comment on his monster recruiting class that was already ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPNU before today. When the ranking originally came out, the Wildcats' rallying cry became "one more" because there was a missing piece still left on the board.
Today, the Wildcats added to their top-ranked class by snapping up that big, big piece and securing the verbal commitment of 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, whose surname could very well become a household name if he lives up to the hype. Tarczewski is the nation's second-ranked center for the class of 2012 and gives the Wildcats their third top-10 recruit in a class that already includes power forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. Guard Gabe York gives Miller a fourth top-50 recruit.
This class set to sign in November would come on the heels of Arizona adding the nation's seventh-ranked class this season that features four top-100 players including point guard Josiah Turner. Top prospects are turning their attention to Tucson even if their other choices are Lawrence, Lexington and Chapel Hill.
To get the fan perspective on all this, we turn not to the Wildcats faithful, but to Montlake Madness, a Washington basketball fan site. In reaction to the Tarczewski commitment and the good vibes surrounding Arizona, the person running the site's Twitter account posted, "If I read one more tweet praising Sean Miller's recruiting prowess I'm going to gouge my eyes out. #recruiting frustrations."
There is a growing realization from Pac-12 observers that in the near future, the league will be dominated by Arizona and UCLA. The Bruins' 2012 class is currently ranked fifth after Ben Howland received commitments from Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. If they can add top overall recruit Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA would get into the title picture as well.
The one-upmanship between Arizona and UCLA is good for the Pac-12's profile but threatens even at this early date to shift the balance of power to the league's two most traditional powers.
That's the future Arizona is facing, and Miller has to smile at that. There's courtships with recruits and a dance-off with UCLA to be won, and right now, he's got all the moves.