TUCSON, Ariz. — The college coaches have spoken. And while they often aren’t the most agreeable bunch, there’s a consensus that Arizona coach Sean Miller is one tough guy to go against, both on the recruiting trail and on the court.
ESPN did a survey recently of more than 200 Division I coaches, and Miller was ranked by his peers in the top 20 in terms of his X’s-and-O’s ability and in the top three when it comes to recruiting.
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo finished atop the X’s-and-O’s list, and Kentucky coach John Calipari finished atop the recruiting list.
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Since coming to Arizona five years ago, Miller has consistently brought in some of the best recruiting classes in program history, with last year’s being ranked among the top five nationally, with Aaron Gordon as the top prize. The year before it was No. 1 for much of the recruiting period until slipping late to, on average, about third. And regardless of ranking, there’s no disputing the talent that has come through since Miller’s arrival: Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett (both McDonald’s All-Americans), Josiah Turner (a bust but a highly ranked and undoubtedly talented one), and even his first class, which featured Solomon Hill, MoMo Jones and, oh yeah, Derrick Williams, the eventual No. 2 pick in the NBA draft.
“He’s practically owned the West Coast since he arrived in Tucson in 2009, landing three of the top big men in the Class of 2012 (Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Jerrett) and pulling in (Gordon) in 2013,” ESPN survey overseer Jeff Goodman wrote.
As for the on-court accolades, Miller — who is 96-43 overall at Arizona and 5-2 in the NCAA tournament — came in tied for 19th.
“I watched Sean’s Xavier teams closely while at Wright State and have played his Arizona teams twice,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell told ESPN. “He does a terrific job of giving his players freedom and teaching them how to play in his motion offense while also mixing in some really good set plays for his best players.”