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Sean Miller off to a quick start at Arizona


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Earlier in the week, we spoke to Vince Walden, the head coach of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy and 6-foot-10, 250-pound center Kyryl Natyazhko and he strongly believed that Natyazhko was looking hard at Arizona.

Only days later, we spoke to Walden again. Except now, Natyazhko has indeed made the decision to play his college basketball at Arizona.

Walden says that one of the biggest factors in Natyazhko's decision is the belief that he will be able to play significantly right away.

"He was excited about each program and at the end of the day he felt that his number one priority was whether or not he would have a chance to play," Walden said.

Although his true position is power forward, the changes in personnel at the UA will allow him to play both front court positions as a true freshman.

"He would have an opportunity without a doubt to play," Walden said. "His true position is at power forward and obviously with the changes at Arizona, those guys have communicated he may have to play a little five because of their size and he is ok with that."

Natyazhko has improved a lot since coming to the United State and the deciding factor in his recruitment was his belief that the staff at Arizona would help him improve the most in order to reach the next level.

"When he first came to me from Ukraine, you saw he had some talent and promise and the more he played the better he got," Walden said. "At the end of the day, what kind of trumped everything was his belief in Sean Miller and James Whitford."

As for what Arizona is getting with Natyazhko, Walden says that he is very skilled for a player of his size.

"His strength without a doubt is his skill set at his size," Walden said. "He can put the ball on the floor at his position. He can stretch the defense and put different wrinkles in the defense by stepping out and being able to shoot.

"I think another strength is his passion for the game because he wants to get better and be a pro, so he has a tremendous amount of hunger and passion, which helps what he is trying to get done."

With that being said, there are obviously parts of Natyazhko's game that he will need to work on.

"I think what he has to work on is his ability to increase his rebound area," Walden said. "He has a seven foot wingspan and great length and I think he can increase his rebound area. I think the other piece will be his timing and his ability to increase his shot blocking ability and anticipation."

Although he needs to improve on certain aspects of his game, Walden says that he has already seen a lot of growth in Natyazhko's ability since coming to the United State.

"He has made a tremendous amount of improvement," Walden said. "You are talking about a kid who probably played in a middle of a zone in Ukraine and used his size to intimidate.

"He has increased his ability to put the ball on the floor, his understanding of the game, and his knowledge of momentum. He has also improved his body and again, the more he plays, the better he gets."

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