Arizona landed a commitment from Lauri Markkanen on Saturday, a native of Finland considered by scouts to be a five-star talent.
Markkanen, an athletic 6’10” forward, told Scout.com of his decision while taking an official visit to campus. Markkanen had visited Utah and North Carolina in the past week and had past interest from programs including Duke. "I think I have a chance to go play against great guys every day in practice," Markkanen said. "I think I can get minutes here. I like everything I see here.
"I'm glad I have a chance to commit now and relax," he added. "All three schools are great and I knew it was going to be hard, but I think I made the right choice."
Markkanen is the first 2016 commitment for Sean Miller and Arizona. He opened eyes at NBA All-Star Weekend in February with a strong showing at a Basketball Without Borders camp in New York, and followed that up with a big summer at the FIBA U18 European Championships. He averaged 18.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for Finland in the competition.
The commitment is a major coup for Arizona, who graduate big men Kaleb Tarczewski, Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen after the season. Markkanen is a rangy, mobile forward with developing skills and a solid jump shot and should be firmly on NBA radars before long. His frame is large enough that he could potentially play some center with some added strength. His addition helps compensate for the loss of forward T.J. Leaf, who chose to reopen his recruitment over the summer after committing to Arizona earlier in the year.
Arizona’s other targets for the 2016 class include five-star prospects Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox.
- Jeremy Woo