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Men's Hoops: Recruits come to Arizona from far and wide

KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman Jawann McClellan goes up for a shot against Illinois' Roger Powell during their matchup in the Elite Eight in March. McClellan is one of several recent recruits from the Houston area.
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
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Hot off the recruiting trail, Arizona assistant men's basketball coach Josh Pastner sat down with the Wildcat to discuss potential recruits, the wealth of talent in Houston and the NBA draft.

Wildcat: What is the situation with Aaron Johnson, who led the Big Ten in rebounding and is rumored to be transferring from Penn State to Arizona?

Pastner: There is still a lot that can happen. If he was going to come here, it would just be on a walk-on status, no scholarship. He would be coming in, the last one on the team, having to work his way up the ladder.

Wildcat: What does Johnson bring to the table, in terms of his skills?

Pastner: He plays hard - he led the Big Ten in rebounding. He's tenacious, he's intense, he works his butt off. He's good in those aspects, and he's a very good rebounder.

Wildcat: You've been on the road working hard at recruiting. How has it been going thus far?

Pastner: It went real well, but the real testament will be to see if we can get a couple of these kids in that we want to get and get them committed eventually. That's going to be the key.

Wildcat: You've recruited the Houston area heavily since 2003 - how important is to have such a solid base in a city away from Arizona?

Pastner: It's critical. That's kind of like our own backyard a little bit. We need to make sure that we do a great job there and the West Coast as well. Those two are really our backyard. We need to cover our bases, dot every "I" and cross every "T."

Wildcat: Texas used to be known more as a football state, but with some of the talent coming out of the state recently, it's being recognized for its basketball as well.

Pastner: It's been a huge thing because they've had such great recognition football-wise, but there are so many great high school players there and great high school coaches along with summer league coaches, which gives the prospective student-athlete a chance to really grow and utilize their athleticism, and turn that athleticism not only to use as an athlete but to be a skill type player.

Wildcat: When Houston recruit Ndudi Ebi decided to forgo his college career and enter the NBA draft, was that one of your most disappointing moments in the recruiting area?

Pastner: Ndudi came here, and his final four were Arizona, Duke, Texas and Indiana, and he chose us. Then at the end, it was Arizona versus the NBA and that's tough to compete against. He was fortunate enough to be a first-round pick, and he hasn't put up the numbers I'm sure he wishes he would have put up. I expect big things from him in the future, and he's got a tremendous work ethic. He has his head on right, so I expect big things from him in his career.

Wildcat: What do you think about North Carolina losing almost their entire team to graduation and the NBA draft?

Pastner: Well I don't feel too bad for North Carolina. They just won the national championship and they have a heck of a recruiting class coming in. Coach (Roy) Williams and company will do just fine, and they will be able to reload. I don't have any pity for Carolina.

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