By Roman Veytsman
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Isaiah Fox dunks during a shooting contest during McKale Madness on Friday night in McKale Center. McKale Madness marked the official start of practice for the 2005-06 basketball season.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Mater Dei 7-footer Jacobsen gives verbal commitment to Cats
Alex Jacobson, a 7-foot-1 junior center from Mater Dei High School in California, came to Tucson over the weekend and didn't leave empty-handed.
Jacobson, who had been favoring the Arizona men's basketball team, became the first player from the class of 2007 to verbally commit to the Wildcats.
Jacobson met with his family, his trainer, Trent Suzuki, and Arizona head coach Lute Olson on Saturday and decided he wanted no part of the future recruiting process.
"I knew it from the start," Jacobson said. "They have everything - top-of-the-line facilities, the training center."
Jacobson watched McKale Madness on Friday and went to the Arizona football game Saturday against Stanford. He also worked out with Suzuki and 2006 recruit Chase Budinger and participated in pickup games with current Wildcats on Friday.
Unlike other places he's visited, he said he felt comfortable at Arizona.
"I really enjoyed it," he said. "I played other pick-up games in colleges, and they make fun of you if you're not really that good. Here, they actually told me what to do and helped me."
He said he was also pleased with the environment away from the court.
"There is a family atmosphere that the coaching staff has with the players," he said.
Jacobson said he was relieved he finally knew where he would end up in two years - under the bright lights of McKale Center.
"This is like a huge weight just lifted off my chest," he said. "I don't have to worry about colleges calling me."
Suzuki said Jacobson wanted to sign early so he could secure one of the two scholarships the Wildcats will give out to the '07 class.
Jacobson, who weighs 223 pounds, is ranked the 88th-best prospect in his class. Other Mater Dei High players who have played for Arizona include Reggie Geary, Miles Simon and current walk-on David Bagga.
Jacobson said those athletes did not influence his decision to commit.
Budinger, potential recruits show off skills in scrimmage
The Wildcats' future and present were intertwined on the court Friday, and at times it was hard to tell who fit into what category.
Jacobson, along with Budinger, and possible 2009 prospects Travis and David Wear played pick-up basketball for about two hours with the Arizona team Friday at 1 p.m.
Budinger, who Suzuki said sports a 42-inch vertical leap, seemed to be by far the most impressive of the bunch, if not the most impressive player on the floor.
The 6-foot-7 wing from Carlsbad, Calif., showed why he was considered a national top-10 prospect, displaying a graceful perimeter shot that he fired consistently from behind the 3-point line.
Budinger seemed to play with confidence, driving to the basket often and shooting comfortably from midrange.
This is like a huge weight just lifted off my chest. I don't have to worry about colleges calling me.
- Alex Jacobson, 2007 basketball recruit
He moved well without the ball, cutting to the basket for scoring opportunities. When he did receive the ball, he was always ready to shoot, connecting on a turnaround jump shot at one point.
His only weakness seemed to be a lack of strength, but he handled himself well on the defensive end, going up against muscular sophomore guard Jesus Verdejo, among others.
Jacobson, on the other hand, is still a project in the works. He showed decent footwork and a soft touch on a half sky-hook with his right hand. Suzuki said they are working hard to develop the same shot from the left side.
Defensively, Jacobson is a big body, standing taller than junior center Kirk Walters. Verdejo was quick to find the big man apt at swatting shots away, tossing up a high runner that Jacobson denied.
Jacobson was slow getting down the floor at times and did not receive the ball frequently. Suzuki helped train redshirt senior forward Isaiah Fox over the summer and is expected to speed Jacobson's development before he sets foot on the Arizona campus as a freshman.
With the Wear twins, it was tough to tell who was whom, not only from their appearances but also from the way they played Friday.
They both stand 6-foot-8, but it was obvious they were a little awestruck by the environment.
David showed a smooth shooting stroke from 3-point range, and Travis showed the same when he got on the court.
Physically, the twins were clearly not yet mature, but their ball handling was impressive for players of their size.
Senior forward Hassan Adams and junior guard Mustafa Shakur encouraged the twins often, pointing them in the right direction on possessions and yelling, "Good job, kid" at times.