June 27, 2012

Hazzard ready to contribute at Arizona

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Arizona's 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 3 overall by Rivals.com, finishing behind only UCLA - which added the nation's No. 1 recruit in Shabazz Muhammad - and Kentucky.

The class has three five-star recruits, which includes the country's top-ranked center prospect in Kaleb Tarczewski. Two of the members of the class participated in the McDonald's All-American game, and another - Gabe York - finished his career at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran as the school's all-time leading scorer.

Former Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola guard Jacob Hazzard didn't pick up any of those honors, and he didn't pick up a scholarship. But the future Wildcat will still play a role on the squad that many feel will compete for Final Four appearances.

"Definitely just coming into practice and working hard with the guys," Hazzard said about his role as a walk-on next season. "Just getting them ready for the games. I don't know if I'm going to get a lot of playing time this year - if any at all - so I'm not really worried about that. It's just about practicing hard and playing hard everyday, giving 110 percent, trying to get better and help the team win championships."

Hazzard, who is the grandson of the late Walt Hazzard, has just a little over a week before he heads off to Tucson and he's excited about getting on to campus and starting the next phase of his career.

With the high-ranking class entering its first year, there is plenty of expectations already for the incoming group - which also includes Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. Even though he may not have been recruited as much as his fellow freshmen, Hazzard said he feels his role can be important to helping the program reach its goals.

"I think we definitely have the quality and potential to be a championship team," he said. "We've got great players like Gabe York, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley coming in as just a few names. We just have to work hard and get some team chemistry going, and I think if we do that we'll be able to have a run at the championship."

Although he is a bit undersized, Hazzard feels he still possesses the skills to help head coach Sean Miller's squad prepare for games and contribute in that way.

"I'm definitely a knockdown shooter," he said. "I like to shoot 3s and that's what I really do. And on defense I really like to lock up on somebody. I feel like I'm a good energy guy on and off the court.

"I'm just looking forward to playing with the team and to get out there and do whatever I can."

The guard prospect said that UA's fan base had a lot to do with his decision to join the 'Cats as a walk-on for the 2012 season.

"Definitely the fan support," Hazzard said about what contributed to his decison. "It's a big basketball school and they really support the team. And I'm looking forward to getting out there getting them excited for a great season. So just the school and the campus is wonderful, it's nice weather all year round.

"There were a lot of big factors that went into my decision, but those were a few."

The coaching staff at UA had a lot to do with his choice as well.

"The coaching staff is great," Hazzard said. "We've got a great head coach, and the assistants are also wonderful. They're are just a good coaching staff, and they know how to win and they know how to get their players ready. So it's a good thing to have."

Being from Southern California, Hazzard is already familiar with a couple of the Wildcats' incoming recruits. But there is one in particular he's looking forward to playing with at the next level.

"Definitely Gabe York," he said. "I played against him last year at Fairfax and we went at it during the game, but I'm definitely excited to play with him and Grant Jerrett - a big guy.

"I'm really just looking forward to just gelling with all the guys, Nick Johnson is another great guy. We have some great pieces and I'm looking forward to helping them gel and playing with everybody."

Hazzard is enjoying his last few days before college, but he's excited about his future.

"You know I'm having fun hanging out with people and working out," he said. "But I'm ready to get out there and work hard and have fun, it should be great."

Matt MorenoMatt Moreno
GOAZCATS.com Senior Recruiting Editor

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