Over the last 30 years, the University of Arizona Wildcats Men’s Basketball program has been able to successfully mix recruiting local standouts like Sean Elliot, Mike Bibby and Richard Jefferson with star athletes that come from the far reaches of Belgrade, Mali and Australia.
Head Coach Sean Miller has continued to promote Tucson as the College Basketball hub of the West and with next year’s top-five nationally-ranked recruiting class secure, he can continue to tout Arizona as a prime basketball oasis.
The last prized recruit that Miller landed for this 2011 crop is a Second-Team Parade All-American from San Diego, PF/C Angelo Chol—aka, The Man from Sudan.
Angelo Chol was born in Khartoum, Sudan and came to the USA when he was seven years old (USA Basketball Statistics). Living in San Diego, Chol continued to grow into his now agile 6’9”, 210-pound frame.
When he arrives in Tucson this summer, Sean Miller’s coaching staff will immediately throw Angelo into the weight room and put him under a vigorous training program in an attempt to add another 20 pounds of muscle. However, perusing Angelo’s game statistics from his high school career, it would appear that he is already a man among boys.
According to USA Basketball statistics, “Angelo set the all-time national prep record for blocked shots in a season with 337 in 35 games during the 2008-09 season; tied the San Diego city single-game record for blocked shots with 19 versus Lincoln (12/8/08).”
As if averaging just under 10 blocks a game for a 35-game season—including a 19-block performance in one game—isn't impressive enough, at the time Angelo achieved these feats he was only 15 years old.
I concede that Division II basketball in San Diego isn’t the Mecca of high school hoops, but those accomplishments at such a young age cannot be ignored.
MaXpreps (CBS) lists Angelo Chol’s senior year stat line as 23.2 points, 14.9 rebounds and eight blocks per game. He made 49 percent of his shots, and didn’t fare too poorly from three-point land, making them at a 34 percent rate.
Angelo does need to improve at the free-throw line (65 percent), but that isn’t too big of a concern when you take into account the emphasis that Sean Miller puts on his players to concentrate at the charity stripe.
In a recent tournament in Tijuana, Mexico, Angelo dominated the competition, putting up video-game-like numbers of 30.7 points and 18.3 rebounds per game (SignOn San Diego).
There was quite a height disparity between Chol and the Mexican All-Stars, but all of his points didn’t come in the paint, as he hit many perimeter jump shots and three-pointers. Chol’s consistency and improvement on offense through his high school career show that he will be a force on both ends of the court in his days in Tucson.
The Arizona Wildcats were susceptible last year to letting opposing teams' guards penetrate the lane and get easy layups. Next season, Chol’s presence clogging up the lane and his shot-blocking abilities will be felt immediately.
I am a believer that Derrick Williams is going to opt to stay in Tucson for his junior season, and if that occurs, he can move to the PF position, while Angelo Chol can patrol the paint as the starting center for the Wildcats. This one-two punch of Williams-Chol will be the best frontcourt in the country.
If Williams opts to go pro and enter the NBA draft this summer, then Chol will be asked to do more than just swat shots and will be an integral part of Arizona’s offense next season.
During his time playing for the USA Junior National Team, Angelo told USA Basketball that he wears the #3 because there are three people who really care about him.
After he arrives on campus and becomes a star for the Wildcats next season, he is quickly going to see that number exponentially grow as the Arizona faithful welcome him into the Wildcat family. Judging from his recent play and the confidence he has in himself, The Man from Sudan won’t disappoint.
The future is bright, the sun is shining. It’s good to be a Wildcat.