EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Since he was a little kid, Chapin’s basketball phenom KJ Lewis has dreamed of playing for the Arizona Wildcats. That dream came true on Wednesday night.

In front of his family, friends, and thousands of fans watching around the country exclusively on KTSM, Lewis verbally committed to the University of Arizona. Rated by some publications as a Top-25 prospect in the Class of 2023, Lewis chose the Wildcats over Arkansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, and UCLA.

The decision will take Lewis back to a place where he spent a portion of his childhood. His father still lives in Arizona, as does much of his family and Lewis made a game-winning shot at Arizona’s McKale Center in third grade. That weighed heavily into his choice.

“It felt destined. I chose Arizona because of the spirit inside of me; it just felt like home,” Lewis told KTSM in the hours before his official commitment. “The coaching staff welcomed me like family from the beginning.”

“He spent one year there, his third grade year,” added his mother, Monica Ramirez. “That one year there was enough for a seed to be planted. He held on to that until today. For him, it’s like he just manifested it.”

Under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd, Arizona has quickly returned to its historical status as a college basketball powerhouse. Ranked second in the nation in the AP and Coaches polls, the Wildcats won the Pac-12 regular-season championship and enter the Pac-12 Tournament at 28-3 in 2021-22.

It’s under that umbrella that Lewis announced his commitment to the Wildcats’ program, making him the second Top-25 prospect in the Class of 2023 to commit to Arizona in the last two weeks, joining guard Kylan Boswell.

Arizona was one of the last programs to offer Lewis a scholarship back on Jan. 12 of this year. However, Wildcats coaches had seen Lewis play in games for Chapin throughout the fall and early winter. When head coach Tommy Lloyd drove to El Paso to personally watch him play in early January, the Wildcats made their decision to finally offer Lewis, making him a priority recruit in the Class of 2023.

He took an official visit to Arizona in early February, sending back glowing reports about his time there. Ultimately, his long-time love for the Wildcats was the difference.

A hyperathletic 6’4 guard that excels at attacking the basket in a half-court setting and in transition, Lewis is also a high-IQ player that passes extremely well. Perhaps the part of his game that turned the most heads for college coaches is his intensity and willingness on the defensive end. In the last year, he’s also showcased an improved jump shot that has to intrigue the Wildcats’ staff.

Lewis believes he fits the Arizona system very well and thinks he’ll be able to step on campus and immediately contribute to the Wildcats’ national championship hopes down the line.

“Coach Lloyd and the whole coaching staff made me feel like a priority,” Lewis said. “I think the biggest reason (I chose Arizona) was the style of play, the high-pace offense, and the unselfishness of the whole team. That was really the deciding factor.”

Lewis has committed to the Wildcats extremely early in the process before his junior year has even come to an end. He told KTSM on Wednesday that he has considered reclassifying from the Class of 2023 to the Class of 2022, meaning he would start at Arizona a year early next fall. However, he and his family have not yet made a decision regarding reclassifying, and for now, he plans on playing his senior year of high school.

“We all agree this is a perfect fit for him because it’s a two-way system and he’s a two-way player,” said Chapin boys basketball coach Rodney Lewis. “They go up and down and then they play pretty good defense.”

Whenever he makes his way to Tucson, Lewis will bring with him the title of perhaps the best prep basketball player El Paso has ever seen. In three years at Chapin, Lewis led the Huskies to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances, the first in program history.

With his commitment out of the way, now he can enjoy the next year of his life stress-free about his collegiate future. When he gets to Arizona, he’ll look to continue pushing toward his life-long goal of playing in the NBA.

“They send talent to the NBA and that’s my end goal. They have the player development for that. Hopefully I can be the next person,” said Lewis.

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