Budinger rated as high as fifth in the nation
The next Tracy McGrady is coming to Tucson.
That may be a little too much hype for high school senior Chase Budinger, who in a news conference Wednesday committed to play basketball for Arizona in 2006. Still, Budinger is considered by some experts to be the real deal.
A 6-foot-7-inch, 190-pound wing from La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High School, he has all the attributes of the Houston Rockets superstar, according to his personal trainer, Trent Suzuki, who has coached Budinger since about sixth grade.
"Athletically, he's very much Tracy McGrady," Suzuki said in a phone interview last week. "He's the same height, he can shoot, and he plays up and down."
The entire Arizona coaching staff pursued Budinger with vigor over the summer, inviting him to stay in the dorms on campus, flying to California to watch his games and being in frequent contact with Suzuki when NCAA rules prevented contact with Budinger.
The Arizona coaching staff was unable to comment on Budinger's decision, per NCAA rules.
Budinger averaged 27.9 points and 13.5 rebounds per game last season. Most college scouting services list him as a top-15 prospect nationally and he's been rated as high as fifth.
Budinger said in a phone interview last week that he liked the educational opportunities offered at Arizona and believed the campus was just the right size for him.
"It helped me in knowing they have a really great business program," he said. "I liked the environment a lot."
Budinger joins power forward Jordan Hill from Georgia and point guard Nic Wise from Texas in Arizona's 2006 recruiting class.
Suns to hold training camp at UA
Starting Oct. 3, the Phoenix Suns are moving to Tucson - albeit for a weeklong training camp and scrimmage at McKale Center.
The Suns, who have held training camp in Flagstaff for all but three of the last 19 seasons, also considered San Diego as a host site, according to an article in Thursday's Arizona Daily Star.
Longtime interaction between Suns owner Robert Sarver and men's basketball head coach Lute Olson moved the Suns' needle back toward Arizona, said Suzy Mason, Arizona assistant athletic director of event management, last week.
"It was the relationship that made the deal," she said.
The UA will rent out McKale to the Suns and in turn collect donations made during an Oct. 8 scrimmage, which will be open to the public.
The Suns, meanwhile, get the opportunity to extend their fan base to southern Arizona while staying close to home.
"It's good for their market because their second set of fans beside the immediate Phoenix area come from southern Arizona," Mason said. "They really wanted to get back here."
Sarver, a UA alum, told the Daily Star that he agreed to the deal to give the team better exposure in different media markets and that he was impressed with the facilities at his alma mater.
The Suns were the most improved team in the NBA last season, reaching the Western Conference Finals before bowing out to the NBA champions San Antonio Spurs.
Barring injuries or any other incidents, the Suns will bring superstars Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire to Tucson, as well as new acquisitions Kurt Thomas and Raja Bell.
Practices will be closed to the public, other than the team scrimmage. The Suns are not scheduled to play any preseason games in Tucson this year.