Five-star forward T.J. Leaf de-commits from Arizona; UCLA now favorite?

Sean Miller’s 2016 class takes a hit, but maybe just for the time being. (USATSI)

Sean Miller is in the midst of building (if he’s not already fully established) an empire of a program out West. Miller’s Arizona Wildcats are considered one of the strongest recruiting outfits in the country, behind maybe only Kentucky and Duke.

So with that in mind, it’s an oddity to see any kind of player de-commit from Miller’s regime.

But five-star forward T.J. Leaf, who will graduate from high school next spring, did that on Thursday night. Leaf tweeted:

Leaf, who is from El Cajon, Calif., is now projected by 247 Sports to have UCLA as the favorite to land him. He’s a 6-foot-10 forward who just played in the FIBA U18 European Championships. He won the championship’s MVP award after putting up more than 16 points per game while playing for Israel’s national team. Leaf pledged to Zona last fall, picking Miller’s program over the likes of Duke, UCLA, Michigan and Florida.

Now Arizona is in the unusual position of entering the fall without a verbal commitment from any player for the upcoming graduating high school class. The Wildcats are still in on plenty of top-50 recruits, but Leaf was the big get. He’s still considering Arizona, but for the first time in a long time, Miller’s in a delicate position coming out of the big summer recruiting period.

As for Leaf, it’s very much a fluid situation. ESPN reports Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Gonzaga, Michigan, Oregon and others have reached out to Leaf.

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