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Miles Norris (5) of the Earl Watson Elite is a 6’9″ forward with a 7’3″ wingspan (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — We’ve heard Sean Miller make it a point to address the sellout crowd for what amounts to a scrimmage at the Red-Blue Game each October at McKale Center and mention his gratitude for those filling all of the seats.
Miller, of course, knows many top-notch recruits always are in attendance and already amazed of the fan involvement, which is unmatched in the Pac-12.
Come this Oct. 17 at McKale for this year’s Red-Blue Game, Miller and his staff will have many recruiting targets on hand, some for official visits and others taking an unofficial trip. One of the prized recruits taking an unofficial visit will be Class of 2018 power forward Miles Norris of Chula Vista (Calif.) Mater Dei High School.
Norris, who is 6’9″ with an impressive 7’3″ wingspan, has already made an unofficial visit of McKale last season when Arizona played Oregon State.
“I was impressed with the fan base and seeing how they sell out every single home game,” Norris said after a game with Earl Watson Elite in the Las Vegas Fab 48 tournament at Bishop Gorman High School.
Other known high school prospects as of now coming to Tucson for the Red-Blue Game include Class of 2018 point guard Brandon Williams of Encino (Calif.) Crespi Carmelite and power forward Taeshon Cherry of San Diego Augustine. Class of 2017 five-star point guard Collin Sexton of Mableton (Ga.) Pebbleton has also indicated he will be in attendance.
When I saw Norris play this week, my first thought was his long arms and slightly wiry frame reminded me of former Arizona post player Anthony Cook, whose long arms made it nearly impossible for opponents to score around the hoop.
Cook, who was also 6’9″, totaled a school-record 278 blocked shots in his Arizona career from 1985-86 to 1988-89. Norris had 82 blocked shots last year with Mater Dei Catholic (which should not be confused with the high-profile Mater Dei program from Santa Ana, Calif.).
“I’ve always taken advantage of having long arms,” said Norris, who also averaged 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and an impressive 1.4 steals a game last season. “I use them mostly for shot blocking, but I can make other plays because of them, like getting steals.”
Sean Miller and Arizona’s coaching staff will have a few recruits, including Miles Norris, in attendance for this annual spectacle.
Norris says he has put a lot conditioning work in to improve his speed and agility to cover more space in a shorter period of time, making more use of his length. He also is trying to build on his 195-pound frame. Only a junior this school year, Norris is still developing.
“When looking back to this year at this time, I feel like I’ve improved a lot,” Norris said. “I’ve been working on running the floor so the guards can get me the ball, and I am getting stronger. Definitely.
“I am concentrating on playing more physical as well as working on my handles (dribbling and passing) and my shooting.”
The intangibles are also important to Norris, who is being recruited by most Pac-12 schools in addition to Duke, West Virginia, Texas, Maryland and North Carolina.
Norris has matured into more of a vocal leader this summer. Before he reaches his senior season in 2017=18, he wants to evolve into a captain for his high school team. He sees a lot of those qualities in Earl Watson Elite teammate Ira Lee, a Class of 2017 power forward from Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep who is a recruiting priority for Arizona.
“Ira is somebody I look up to,” Norris said. “He gets on you every game, but he’s also fun to play with. I want to be like that.”
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.