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UA signs top prep swimmer, basketball guard, pitcher

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Yesterday began the early signing period for all UA sports, excluding football and soccer.

The highlight of the day was the signing of Tucson prep phenom Lacey Nymeyer to the UA women's swim team.

Nymeyer, who is a straight-A student at Marana Mountain View High School and was the national 18-and-under champion in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, was relieved to make it official. She chose the UA over California, UCLA and Brigham Young.

"It is so nice just to have it decided and over with, and I'm just really excited," Nymeyer said. "I'm ready to enjoy my senior year and not have to worry about where I'm going."

The National Letter of Intent assures students of a scholarship for their freshman year, binds them to the school and ends the recruiting process.

Nymeyer has enjoyed a close-up view of the Wildcat swim program. Mountain View practices at Hillenbrand Aquatics Center on the UA campus, where the Wildcats train and compete.

Nymeyer, who qualified for the Olympic trials next summer in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, had some family pressure in joining the Wildcats. Her grandfather, Ed, is a member of the UA Sports Hall of Fame as a basketball player.

"They of course wanted me to go to the UA in the beginning. But I told them I needed to know for sure and I needed to experience other schools and see what I really wanted, and if UA was what I wanted," Nymeyer said. "After looking at the other schools, it's really nice to have UA close to home."

Signing day was also a welcome sight for men's basketball guard Jawann McClellan, who verbally committed in the Summer of 2002 following his sophomore high school year, more than 15 months before he could make it official. McClellan, a top 40 recruit from Houston Milby High School, was still recruited into November by other schools.

"Jawann has always wanted to be a Wildcat and he showed a tremendous amount of loyalty to the program throughout the recruiting process," said assistant coach Josh Pastner. "Simply put, he is a winner, a team-first guy."

The men's hoops team will also say "g'day" to Daniel Dillon, a guard who just moved to the U.S. from Melbourne, Australia, and is relatively unknown in America.

It has been speculated that UA coaches tried to keep Dillon's verbal commitment a secret so that Southeastern Conference recruiters would not discover Dillon, who is prepping at London (Kentucky) North Laurel High School.

Along with Nymeyer, another Mountain Lion signed with Arizona; pitcher Lee Taylor with the baseball team. Taylor has earned a spot on the Arizona Diamondbacks' fall scout team twice.

Last spring, Taylor was one pitch away from pitching a perfect game. He is an honor roll student and Congressional Youth Leadership Council nominee.

Taylor, who picked Arizona over Arizona State, UC San Diego and San Diego State, said he was impressed with head baseball coach Andy Lopez. His father, Steve, said Lee always listed the UA as his top school in recruitment literature.

"We talked about different universities for quite a while, and the UA's always been on top of the list," Steve said.

The women's basketball team signed three recruits, including Chari Smith and Jessica Arnold. Smith was an All-Los Angeles selection and is ranked No. 14 out of the top 100 high school power forwards by All-Star Girls Report.

"Chari could really push for a starting spot as a freshman," said women's basketball head coach Joan Bonvicini. "She can shoot the perimeter jumper, she's quick, she's very versatile, and she has excellent leaping ability. She is going to be a good complement for (center Shawntinice Polk)."

Hailing from Tucson Palo Verde High School, Arnold was a first-team All-Tucson selection last season and is ranked No. 57 by All-Star Girls Report.

"Jessica is someone who we've known for more than 10 years," Bonvicini said. "She's come to our camps since she was a kid. She's even gone to Lute Olson's camp with the boys and was the MVP of her division. She has great talent, excellent skills. She's someone who's going to make an impact right away, and she's a great student.

"She's always been about the Wildcats - her parents are UA grads. We're very happy she's going to be part of our program," Bonvicini added.

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