By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat October 2, 1996
With the departure of Ben Davis and Joseph Blair to professional basketball, UA head coach Lute Olson has been looking to add some big, strong players to fill their vacancies.
Olson just returned from a week-long recruiting trip that included stops in California, Texas and Arizona. The three major prospects on Olson's wish list are 6-foot-9 Michael Batiste from Long Beach (Calif.) Community College, 6-7 Chris Owens of Duncanville, Texas, and 6-8 Dion Broom of Mesa Westwood High School.
"We felt that the trip was a positive time period," Olson said. "We are going to have some outstanding players visiting. We are trying to fill in any voids we may have."
Batiste is a big, swing-man type of player who could greatly help Arizona's perimeter game in years to come. He played at Long Beach Wilson High School two years ago.
"For a big man, he possesses a lot of perimeter skills," said Quinton Brown, Long Beach Wilson basketball coach. "He is an excellent outside shoote. He can put the ball on the floor, too, and at 6-9, he has a pro-style body."
Batiste excelled during his senior year in high school, averaging 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2 blocks. He then moved on to the local community college, where he played last year, averaging 24 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Batiste does not plan to play this year because he wants to concentrate on academics. Therefore, if he came to Arizona, he would still have three years of eligibility.
Batiste has been recruited by Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, Washington State, Fresno State and Long Beach State.
"He hasn't made any decisions yet because he wants to visit each campus," Brown said. "But we will be behind his decision no matter what."
Broom is another one of the group's headliners. As a junior, Broom averaged 25.7 points a game and 12.1 rebounds.
"He is a big, strong kid, and weighs about 240 pounds," Mesa Westwood head coach Buddy Doolen said.
Doolen said besides Arizona, other schools recruiting Broom are New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Pepperdine. Broom has limited his choices to New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, Doolen said.
Broom hasn't visited any campuses yet, but he is going to New Mexico later this week. He has a trip planned for Arizona early next month.
Broom opened some eyes in a summer league tournament in Phoenix, showing he can play against the other top recruits in the state.
"Coach Olson told me that his interest began when he saw Dion shut some kid named Burgess down in a summer tournament," Doolen said. "This Burgess is going to Duke next season, so he (Broom) showed he has the talent for the college level. But I, personally, am not quite sure he is ready yet. I'm not saying I don't have confidence in him, but I was surprised some of these teams showed interest in him."
While he might not be ready now, Doolen said there is little doubt that he will be playing after his college playing days are over.
"We would like to think he can go and play in the NBA after college," Doolen said. "He has the talent to be a dominating player."
Olson said his team needs a big guy who can dominate.
"We did not bring in anyone over 6-8 last year, so we put a premium on bigger, front-line players," he said.
But because of the youth of this year's team - the UA has no seniors - Olson is also looking forward to future seasons while on this trip.
"We did some preliminary work on the next two years," he said. "With the potential graduation of some big-name players, we felt this was an area we needed to address."