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Five-star 2016 power forward verbally commits to Arizona

Sean Miller, Brandon Ashley

Arizona head coach Sean Miller, right, laughs as he speaks next to forward Brandon Ashley during NCAA college basketball Pac-12 media day in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


On the final day of the early signing period for Class of 2015 recruits, one of the top recruits in the Class of 2016 announced his decision to attend one of college basketball’s best programs.

T.J. Leaf, a five-star power forward from El Cajon, California, announced Wednesday afternoon that he will be attending Arizona. Among the other programs thoughts to be in contention for Leaf were Florida, Duke, Indiana and UCLA.

“T.J. Leaf is very skilled with the ball in his hands and as a shooter for a forward his size,” recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “He needs to get a little tougher on the interior and rebounding the basketball, but Sean Miller has it rolling on the recruiting trail right now.”

To Phillips’ point regarding Arizona’s recruiting success, their pipeline at the forward spot is impressive. Currently the Wildcats have junior Brandon Ashley and freshman Craig Victor seeing minutes, with Ashley being a starter who rates among the best forwards in the country. Also to be considered is the presence of Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, who’s sitting out this season and will have one year of eligibility to use in 2015-16.

Victor would be a junior in 2016, which is when Leaf would begin his freshman season. And given what Miller and his staff have accomplished from a recruiting standpoint since their arrival in the Sonoran desert, Arizona’s full 2016 class is a solid bet to rank among the nation’s best when it’s all said and done. Leaf’s commitment is a good start in that regard.

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