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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Arizona has a lineage of top players from the Phoenix area who opted to leave the Valley of Sun (ASU country) to play down the road at Tucson: Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless.
Sean Miller has his sights set for big man DeAndre Ayton of the Hillcrest Hoops Academy in this class and also five-star Class of 2018 center Marvin Bagley, a former teammate of point guard Alex Barcello at Tempe Corona del Sol who is now at Sierra Canyon in the Los Angeles area.
Barcello, a four-star guard, as rated by Scout.com, could become the next player from up the road to play for the Wildcats down in Tucson.
“I’ve been in constant contact with Coach Miller, so they are recruiting me pretty hard right now, but there also other schools that are trying to recruit me, pretty hard,” Barcello told me after a game with the Oakland Soldiers on Wednesday night at Spring Valley High School.
A really good half for Alex Barcello too … diving all over the place getting assists from his back, tough on D, hit a ton of jumpers
“I haven’t narrowed (a list of schools) down. I’m looking to narrow it down two weeks after this (AAU season) ends (on Sunday). Schools that are on me pretty hard right now are Arizona, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Baylor, Butler, Indiana and Michigan. Those are the ones I can think of at the top of my head. Those are the ones who are recruiting me the hardest right now.”
Barcello did not mention Virginia, but Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett has made a serious push as of late.
Recruiting service 247Sports.com lists Barcello as a 60 percent chance to choose Arizona, ahead of Virgina and Stanford, both at 20 percent. ASU coach Bobby Hurley seemingly has dropped off after actively recruiting Barcello upon his hire last year.
“I’m looking for the best fit no matter where it is in the country,” Barcello said. “I’m just looking to improve my game and where I can develop my game the best I can be and achieve my goal.”
What Barcello will offer a college program: A tough-as-nails point guard out of the same mold as T.J. McConnell, who prides himself on defense, directing the flow of the offense and his leadership ahead of his shooting ability. He could become a guard by the fourth year of his career that will become iconic at his school of choice because of willingness to scrap and do all it takes to be high on the rotation.
Barcello also has a strong offensive game of passing the ball and taking the ball to the hoop, as well as a good mid- to long-range jump shot.
“I’d say made big improvement just from a year ago, getting stronger and more physical, improving my shot, my ball-handling, my vision,” Barcello said. “I am more of a leader. I try to talk as much as I can because as a point guard you got to be able to talk to lead a team.”
Barcello, who played for Team Bayless last year, made it a point to transition a notch higher in AAU this season by joining the Oakland Soldiers, one of the more renowned organizations in youth basketball that has produced LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins,Ivan Rabb, and former Wildcats Nick Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley and Stanley Johnson.
“I know playing in the Nike circuit (with the Soldiers) there is competition every day,” Barcello said. “I have to come out and produce. You have to give 100 percent every time you step on the floor. Can’t take any days off.
“Every time we went to practice or stepped out on the court we had to come together as a team, win as a team. Our goal is to win every game. We play with that mentality. That’s what I like about this program. This program is about winning. They put that first. I like that a lot.”
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.