The Arizona Wildcats received their first commitment of the 2017 class on Friday. Tempe native Alex Barcello tweeted out his decision to play for the university. Considering he isn’t a top-100 player, though he sits right outside of those rankings, this might appear a rather bland “get” by Sean Miller.
To think that — and nothing else — would be superficial.
Programs are not only built by landing the very best recruits. Getting players who will add depth to a team — supplementing rosters otherwise filled with other-worldly stars — offers a better and more balanced approach to winning.
It is certainly worth mentioning that Barcello is no slouch. While it is far too early to tell what sort of potential he has, he brings some true tangibles to the Wildcats.
A 6-2 point guard, Barcello is a noted volume shooter with an already solid jumper. That’s rare for a high school talent. It is part of the reason why he will probably be listed as a point guard when he hits campus, but he should more likely be considered a combo guard.
Barcello is an interesting prospect for other reasons, too. While four-star prospects who aren’t ranked incredibly high on recruiting websites aren’t necessarily the most alluring players, they offer something a Ben Simmons level prospect doesn’t: four years of playing college ball.
Obviously, this is all projection at this point, but Barcello is a legitimately solid four-star shooter. That already-defined skill, combined with the strong possibility of a four-year career, gives Miller ample time to not only develop him as player, but fill out the rest of his roster “knowing” he already has a volume-shooting talent. That situation puts Arizona in the favorable position of having a known commodity for four years.
Even better, that’s a low-end projection. Barcello can easily turn out to be far more than a player with a singular talent. Most teenagers get better with age. Over a period of time, which varies for each individual, Barcello can parlay his shooting acumen into becoming a better and more complete player.
It makes sense. Opponents will respect his shooting, which will spread the floor and open up his teammates. A better passing version of Barcello can be born. Then, as he gets more comfortable in Tucson, he can increase his ball-handling skills and become a truer point guard down the road.
Again, these are all projections. We won’t know all that much — save for grassroots reports — about the guard until we see him in the flesh. In 2017, depending on how much run he gets as a freshman, we will have a far better understanding of Barcello.
Not every important commitment to a program has to be rated in the top 50. Many programs build their success solely through high-level four-stars, but ones not ranked so incredibly high that an insane amount of hype comes with them.
Arizona has had its share of massively hyped prospects and lower-ranked four-stars. The program needs a balance of special recruits — one-and-dones or two-year players before they leave for the NBA — and a separate crop of four-year stalwarts.
Barcello appears to be in the latter group. It doesn’t mean he isn’t great, or that he won’t be a vital cog in the Arizona wheel — it simply means he is a good asset for the program to have, one which might not appear all that important today, but can pay off down the road.