2012-2013 Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
Arizona Team Page
Arizona has had some ups and downs lately. In 2009 the Wildcats made a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen. The following year Arizona failed to make the postseason. In 2011 Coach Sean Miller had a great team that reached the Elite Eight. That led to some higher expectations last season. However, the Wildcats failed to live up to those expectations. Despite a 12-6 record in the Pac-12, the program headed to the NIT. With a superb recruiting class and some key transfers, the expectations are always where they are in Tucson…very high and with good reason.
2011-12 Record: 23-12, 12-6
2011-12 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Sean Miller
Coach Record: 69-35 at Arizona, 189-82 overall
Arizona does lose some key contributors from last year’s team. Kyle Fogg led the Wildcats in scoring during his senior season, averaging 13.5 points per game. Fogg was a very good all-around scorer and was easily the team’s best and most prolific outside shooter. Jesse Perry also graduated after tallying 12.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. Perry did a fine job in the paint on both ends of the floor, but the newcomers will have fans forgetting about Perry pretty quickly. A handful of role-players are heading out too. Josiah Turner was one of the top recruits in the nation last year and started at the point for part of his freshman year. His shooting never came around and Turner made a lot of freshman mistakes too. His talent will not get to blossom at Arizona, but the Wildcats have plenty of options that are better team players. The backcourt will also have to do without three-point specialist Brendon Lavender. Kyryl Natyazhko never saw much playing time, but the 6-11 center could eat up some minutes in the paint.
There is a nice crop of freshmen, but the key newcomer is graduate transfer Mark Lyons. Coach Miller recruited Lyons to Xavier and coached him there for one season. Lyons averaged 15.1 points per game last year with the Musketeers and dished out 2.8 assists. Lyons will be one of many players eyeing the point guard job. However, without Fogg and with Lyons’ shooting ability, it may be best to keep Lyons off of the ball. Either way, Arizona will likely have two players on the floor who can handle the ball much of the time. Incoming freshmen Jacob Hazzard and Gabe York can also run the show. Hazzard is a walk-on and York is more of a shooter than a true point guard, so those two will probably spend most of their game time on the bench or off the ball, respectively. Grant Jerrett is, arguably, the best of the incoming freshmen. The 6-10 power forward is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of California and is a great pickup for the Wildcats. Jerrett will contend for starting time in the post right away. Most of the competition for minutes will come from fellow freshmen Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski. Ashley is more of a big wing than a power forward, but he has the size and strength to play the four spot for now. Kaleb Tarczewski is an athletic big man who can get up and down the floor amazingly well for a 7-0, 255 pound center. Junior college transfer Matt Korcheck is expected to redshirt this season and add some strength. But the key to this class and this team will be the play of the new big men. Jerrett, Ashley and Tarczewski have amazing talent, but they will be asked to start and play nearly all of the minutes at the four and five spots.
Who to Watch:
If the new guys can handle the minutes in the paint, Coach Miller can finally move Solomon Hill to his more natural wing spot. Hill has been playing power forward for most of the last three seasons. During the 2011-2012 campaign he averaged 12.9 points and a team high 7.7 rebounds. Hill has cut down his weight and worked on his perimeter shooting in order to be a better fit on the wing. Yet, he was already a pretty good shooter, knocking down 38.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season. With quicker defenders matching up with him, Hill will not have as many open looks, but he can shoot over a lot of defenders. Hill is a good passer and all-around player and finally putting him on the wing should lead to a big senior season. The frontcourt will also rely heavily on Angelo Chol. The 6-9 sophomore was very raw offensively as a freshman, but time should fix that. The scoring in the paint should come from the newcomers for the most part anyway. Chol will just have to play more minutes and keep grabbing rebounds and swatting away shots. Kevin Parrom’s versatility will earn him plenty of minutes. The injury plagued 6-6 senior can play just about anywhere. He may not put up huge numbers, but Parrom can do a little bit of everything and will likely spend most of his time backing up Hill at the small forward position.
Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes are the other options beside Lyons at the point. Johnson wore down towards the end of his freshman campaign, but he did start 28 games and averaged 8.9 points, 2.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds. Johnson has the ability to shoot more than 32.0 percent from long range. Since Lyons and Johnson can both shoot and run the point, Coach Miller has a little leeway to work between his point guard and shooting guard. Mayes can handle both spots as well, but is better suited as a shooter. His sophomore season was slowed by some injuries, but Mayes is a talented player who can make huge strides if healthy. Arizona has the talent to not just return to the NCAA Tournament, but make a nice run once they get there. The frontcourt is very, very young and this group will go through some growing pains, but when it matters the most, Arizona will be a deep and talented team with enough experience to live up to the lofty expectations.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Mark Lyons, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Nick Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Solomon Hill, Senior, Forward, 12.9 points per game
Grant Jerrett, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Kaleb Tarczewski, Freshmen, Center, DNP last season
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#10 Brandon Ashley
#48 Solomon Hill
#72 Nick Johnson
#115 Grant Jerrett
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#6 Brandon Ashley
#8 Kaleb Tarczewski
#27 Grant Jerrett
#34 Gabe York