#12 Arizona Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
Arizona heads into the 2016-17 season in a reloading state of mind as they have a lot of young talent, but they do have to replace a ton of experience and production from last year’s team. Thus, it is going to take some time for the Wildcats to come together at both ends of the court but with head coach Sean Miller at the helm you can’t count this team out in the Pac-12 race or nationally until proven otherwise.
2015-16 Record: 25-9, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sean Miller
Coach Record: 188-61 at Arizona, 307-108 overall
Who’s Out:
Ryan Anderson was the most productive player last season for the Wildcats. He averaged a double-double last season with 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Gabe York’s production from the outside will be missed as well. York knocked down 42.2 percent of his shots from three-point range last season. Kaleb Tarczewski’s presence down low in the paint will need to be replaced quickly after averaging just under ten rebounds per game last season. Mark Tollefsen was a role player last season who provided very valuable minutes off the bench and was very efficient shooting the basketball at just over 51 percent.
Who’s In:
Kobi Simmons will be expected to step in at point guard right away for Arizona. Simmons is one of the top five incoming point guards and was ranked the 20th best player overall in the ESPN100 rankings for the class of 2016. Rawle Alkins should start right away at small forward and the Wildcats were able to beat out schools like Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and North Carolina for his services. Alkins had a very nice performance in the intrasquad McDonald’s Red-Blue game where he scored 15 points and won the dunk contest. Lauri Markkanen is a 6-11 forward who can stretch the defense. Arizona also adds incoming freshmen Jake Desjardins and Ray Smith and transfers Talbott Denny, Keanu Pinder and Tyler Trillo.
Who to Watch:
Allonzo Trier is the best returning scorer for Arizona, averaging 14.8 points per game last season while playing 28 minutes per game. Trier is also a strong shooter from three-point range knocking down 36.4 percent from behind the arc last season. Kadeem Allen is a redshirt senior guard that will be looking to build upon a strong performance from a year ago where he averaged just over eight points per game and was a relentless force defensively blocking 27 shots. Dusan Ristic will look to continue to increase his playing time at center and has shown flashes of potential and he shot 55 percent from the floor last season. Ristic has shown an ability to be a big time scorer after he scored 20 points in 25 minutes last season against UNLV.
Final Projection:
This young Wildcat team will get a fantastic test on opening night of the season on November 11th out in Honolulu in the Armed Forces Classic against Michigan State. Then a few weeks later on December 3rd Arizona will play Gonzaga in the Naismith Hall of Fame Game in Los Angeles. These two teams met in Spokane last season and the Wildcats outlasted the Bulldogs 68-63 in a hard-fought battle. Missouri, Texas A&M and New Mexico highlight the rest of the non-conference schedule, which will have Arizona very battle tested in time for conference play. The conference schedule does provide a bit of a break for the Wildcats as they only play Oregon once in Eugene and they don’t have to go to Colorado and Utah as well. It is going to be important for Arizona to defend its home court all year long and try to go 5-4 or 6-3 on the road in conference play in order to have a chance to win the conference title. This should be an interesting season in Tucson that results in a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Allonzo Trier, Sophomore, Guard, 14.8 points per game
Kadeem Allen, Senior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Kobi Simmons, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Rawle Atkins, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Dusan Ristic, Junior, Center, 7.1 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.4 (21st in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.9 (99, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (22, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (64, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (220, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (36, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (96, 4)
Rebound Margin: 9.2 (6, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (106, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (206, 9)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#25 Allonzo Trier
#30 Ray Smith
#37 Kobi Simmons
#44 Lauri Markkanen
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#12 Terrance Ferguson
#20 Rawle Alkins
# 22 Kobi Simmons