Arizona among former Duquesne PG McConnell's picks
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Point guard T.J. McConnell narrowed his choices to Arizona and Virginia from a dozen schools that expressed interest since he left Duquesne last week to pursue a higher level of basketball.
McConnell visited Virginia last week and will visit Arizona next Thursday and Friday before reaching a decision, his father, Tim McConnell, said.
The family has ties to the family of Arizona coach Sean Miller, who played at Blackhawk High School and Pitt.
"It has a lot to do with it. We've known the Millers for a long time," Tim McConnell said. "My son really enjoyed his visit to Virginia, too, and really liked the coach there. It's going to come down to where he fits in best."
Part of the evaluation is deciding which school affords T.J. McConnell the best chance to be a starting point guard.
Arizona's starting point guard Josiah Turner was suspended by Miller for a violation of team roles heading into the Pacific-12 Conference tournament.
"We're not sure about his status. That will obviously play a certain role. Depending on that situation will depend a lot on what T.J. decides," he said.
Virginia, meanwhile, has a rising senior for a point guard, Jontel Evans.
"Then that job would be wide open for T.J. to step in there and have a chance to have a great career there," said Mr. McConnell.
Per NCAA rules, McConnell would have to sit out a year, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining.
Virginia returned to the NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 2007 but lost to Florida.
McConnell also had interest from Penn State, but it wasn't a fit.
He finished his sophomore year at Duquesne this year with 2.8 steals a game, third in Division I.
A local player, he was the face of the team.
He asked for his release from the Dukes and was granted it March 19. Two other players also left the program at the same time -- sophomore guard Mike Talley and freshman Danny Herrera.
Coach Ron Everhart was then fired March 22, capping a tough week on the Bluff.
Tim McConnell said the chance to play for a team that can reach the NCAA tournament would fulfill a lifelong dream of his son.
"He's excited about the moving forward. He really enjoyed his time at Duquesne but is excited he's having an opportunity to move forward and start a new chapter in his life," Tim McConnell said. "I see that in him. I see how excited he is getting going in this new chapter."
First Published March 30, 2012 12:00 am