T.J. Leaf De-Commits from Arizona, What Can You Say?


It was hard to read T.J. Leafs message to Coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats fans today, but Arizona will move on and be just fine.

Arizona Wildcats Coach Sean Miller is a winner, his teams are winners, his players are winners, that won’t change going forward. But even winners have to go through dark times to be able to see the light. And today seemed to be one of those dark days.

I first heard the news on Facebook on a group page the @Pac12FightClub where the Sun Devil fans are having a field day to my chagrin. I went to twitter and looked for my go-to guys as far as Arizona Sports Media to get confirmation and found Matt Moreno’s tweet along with others like Bruce Pascoe who has a direct line to Leaf.

Then shortly after we got the news from the source; T.J. Leaf himself posted a message on twitter, the public forum of choice these days.  It hit me in the stomach hard with disappointment. It’s a natural feeling when you have followed someone and really like them to be disappointed, but as I will explain, these are young kids and they have a right to do what’s best for them and their family. I think waiting to commit is probably best for a lot of these players, although the pressure of not committing has to take a toll on you and your family as well. I can’t even imagine.

It just goes to show you, these young men are just that, they are young. How can we expect these types of things not to happen, it’s just hard when it happens to your team. So much of what they go through at a young age are things that most adults don’t ever have to go through. They need to do what’s right for them and their loved ones, and why not? It’s their life isn’t it? They meet so many people in basketball along their journey while getting ready to play at the collegiate level, they may fall in love with some other coach or player or team, it’s only natural.

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Think of yourself as a high school student, how definite were you about your path forward? Did you marry your highschool sweetheart? Did you easily find other students attractive as well as the one you were dating? Can’t be an easy decision…but if Leaf was going to be miserable as a Wildcat, then he shouldn’t be a Wildcat. He should be a happy young college student or professional basketball player who is excited to move to the next step in his life.  Leaf has spent a lot of time in playing in Israel, maybe he found a home for a year? Well, it’s a road others have taken and it has worked out just fine for them.

Indiana is back in the Hunt as well as UCLA. Many on Twitter think that Leaf’s AAU team, Compton Magic, is a feeder for UCLA, and that is why he bailed but I talked to a few folks who denied that claim. Fans have said that he can’t go to a Nike School, that he needs to go to an Adidas school. It gets crazy what reasons folks come up with, but you cannot believe everything you hear.

All that said, Indiana did not waste much time.

I’m sad and I’m disappointed, these are natural feelings as a fan since I got to adore this great young player. One thing is for sure, the Arizona coaching staff has a plan and this change may open the door for other stars-to-be to consider Arizona more.

I honestly woke up in the middle of the night and updated this article because I initially wrote it during my first reactions to the news but realized I was way out-of-bounds and so are a lot of Wildcats fans. After all, as Javier Morales reminded us, he is a young man, and he has to do what’s right for himself and his family. Who are we to judge him? We don’t walk in his shoes.

I also think this is just the start of more of these things to come. More and more players are committing earlier and earlier. The other day UCLA received a commitment from a player LaMelo Ball who is just thirteen for the class of 2019!

Good Luck to T.J. Leaf! The Arizona program will survive and thrive, and we still Believe in Miller.

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