One of the foundations of Lute Olson's storied career at Arizona his ability to maximize the point guard position. Guys like Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire have honed their skills under the tutelage of the Hall of Famer. On Friday, the Wildcats landed what many believe to be the best prospect of all when in-state prospect Jerryd Bayless announced he would play for the Wildcats.
Bayless, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from St. Mary's High School in Phoenix, officially announced he would take his five-star game to the Pac-10 power. Bayless narrowed his choices down to the Wildcats and the Texas Longhorns.
The junior said he looked at three things: the school, hoops program and the success of the head coach. Bayless said he realized Arizona was his choice earlier in the year.
"I've enjoyed watching the Cats' up-tempo style of play and admire their tradition of winning. I've also had the opportunity to spend time on the U of A campus, talking with many people that are a part of the university tradition – both past and present, both students and student-athletes, alumni and current faculty," Bayless said in his statement at the press conference on Friday. "They all speak highly of the institution as a positive impact on the community."
Bayless has been a familiar face on Arizona's campus over the last three years and Olson and staff have made the athletic combo guard a top priority in the class of 2007. With the size, scoring ability and overall understanding of the game, Bayless has the tools of becoming one of the best players to suit up for Olson. His conversations with current and former players helped in his decision.
"The players speak very highly of coach Olson and his staff and the impact they have had on their lives," Bayless said at the press conference. "I've also marveled at the number of players that coach Olson has helped develop into NBA players."
A likely favorite to be in the 2007 McDonald's All-American game, Bayless ranks amongst the best guards in his class. He joins another Rivals100 prospect in the junior class to choose the Wildcats. California center Alex Jacobsen verbally committed this fall.