#1 Arizona Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Arizona Wildcats 
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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Sean Miller has won 30+ games in three of the last four years at Arizona, but this year’s team could be his most talented yet. The Wildcats get Pac-12 Player of the Year contender Allonzo Trier back while adding DeAndre Ayton, a top-5 recruit. Sean Miller has yet to make a Final Four at Arizona, and this season could be his best chance to finally get to the third weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will avoid road trips to USC and UCLA, so the Pac-12 is there for Arizona to potentially run away with. However, the regular season success will not be nearly as important as getting to the Final Four and beyond.
2016-17 Record: 32-5, 16-2
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Sean Miller
Coach Record:
220-66 at Arizona, 340-113 overall
Who’s Out:
Third team All-American Lauri Markkanen bolted to the NBA after a remarkable freshman season. Markkanen became a top-ten NBA Draft pick after he averaged 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and shot 42.3% from behind the arc. Markkanen was the best shooter on a Wildcat team that struggled to score from three, so his outside production must be replaced. Senior leader Kadeem Allen has graduated after two years as the Wildcats’ lead guard. Allen was named to the second team All-Pac-12 and the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team as a senior. Allen led the Wildcats with 1.6 steals per game while adding in 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Kobi Simmons left to play professionally after just one season at Arizona. Simmons started 19 games, averaging 8.7 points and 2.0 assists. Simmons’ playing time dwindled as the season went along, and his spot in this year’s rotation wasn’t guaranteed, causing him to enter the NBA Draft. Chance Comanche also elected to seek professional opportunities after his sophomore season. Comanche played 18.1 minutes per game last year and averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Who’s In:
Sean Miller has a strong recruiting class joining the Wildcats this year, headlined by top-5 prospect DeAndre Ayton. Ayton is a chiseled seven-footer with top-5 NBA Draft pick potential. Ayton will instantly find himself in the starting lineup and could turn into Arizona’s best player by season’s end. Emmanuel Akot joins Ayton as a five-star recruit coming to Arizona. Akot is a 6-7 small forward who should fill Rawle Alkins’ role in the starting lineup until Alkins returns from injury. Brandon Randolph is a four-star, top-40 recruit at shooting guard. Randolph is a spark plug scorer who can come off the bench and pour in points. Ira Lee is a four-star, top-75 recruit at power forward. Lee should give the Wildcats some extra depth in the frontcourt. Alex Barcello is a four-star point guard and a top-100 recruit. Barcello will back-up Parker Jackson-Cartwright this season, but should be Arizona’s point guard of the future. Lastly, Dylan Smith is a 6-5 shooting guard who transferred in from UNC Asheville. Smith was a Big South All-Freshman Team member and averaged 13.5 points in 2015-16. Smith adds experience and scoring upside to the Wildcat bench.
Who to Watch:
Allonzo Trier put together an impressive sophomore campaign once he finally saw the court last season. Trier played in 18 games, averaging a team-high 17.2 points. Trier was named to the second team All-Pac-12 and is a contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year this season. Rawle Alkins was a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last year, but will be sidelined until December with a foot injury. Alkins started 36 games as a freshman, averaging 10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Parker Jackson-Cartwright will take over as the starting point guard in his senior season. Jackson-Cartwright started ten games last season and led the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Jackson-Cartwright is a pure point guard who will provide a steady hand at the helm of the Wildcat offense. Dusan Ristic will give Arizona a senior presence in the post area. Ristic started 34 games as a junior and averaged 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds. Keanu Pinder is back as a reserve player after playing 12.3 minutes per game as a junior.
Final Projection:
Arizona comes into 2017-18 with one of the most talented top-to-bottom rosters in the nation. The Wildcats have a strong balance of returning contributors and incoming talent that should mesh well on the court. All-conference guard Allonzo Trier and elite freshman DeAndre Ayton will bookend a very strong Arizona lineup that could rival any school. The Pac-12 isn’t as strong as years past, and Arizona will avoid having to travel to USC or UCLA, making the path to a conference championship clear. However, Sean Miller won’t be happy with just a conference title, as he will be aiming to breakthrough and finally make it to the Final Four.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game

Allonzo Trier, Junior, Guard, 17.2 points per game
Emmanuel Akot, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Dusan Ristic, Senior, Forward, 10.9 points per game
DeAndre Ayton, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.6 (100th in nation, 6th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 65.9 (40, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.7 (33, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (82, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (243, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.0 (25, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.5 (19, 1)
Rebound Margin: 6.8 (15, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (166, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (32, 3)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#2 Rawle Alkins
#6 DeAndre Ayton
#25 Allonzo Trier
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#3 DeAndre Ayton
#31 Emanuel Akot
#39 Brandon Randolph
#59 Ira Lee
#91 Alex Barcello