#45 Arizona Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
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A drama-filled season for Arizona and Sean Miller ended with major disappointment after the Wildcats lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to 13-seed Buffalo. Despite the FBI investigation that loomed over the 2017-18 season, Arizona still managed to win 27 games and take home the Pac-12 regular season and tournament trophies. A key reason for their success was the play of number one NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton. However, all five starters from last season’s team have now departed and the Wildcats must turn to a whole new batch of talent to continue their run atop the Pac-12. 
2017-18 Record: 27-8, 14-4
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sean Miller
Coach Record: 247-73 at Arizona, 367-120 overall
Key Departed Players:
Deandre Ayton, Center, 20.1 ppg
Allonzo Trier, Guard, 18.1 ppg
Rawle Alkins, Guard, 13.1 ppg
Dusan Ristic, Forward, 12.2 ppg
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Guard, 7.8 ppg
Keanu Pinder, Forward, 2.3 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Dylan Smith, Junior, Guard, 4.3 ppg
Brandon Randolph, Sophomore, Guard, 3.7 ppg
Alex Barcello, Sophomore, Guard, 2.4 ppg
Ira Lee, Sophomore, Forward, 2.4 ppg
Emmanuel Akot, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 ppg

Key New Players:
Justin Coleman, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from Samford

Devonaire Doutrive, Freshman, Guard
Chase Jeter, Junior, Center, Transfer from Duke
Ryan Luther, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Pittsburgh
Omar Thielemans, Freshman, Forward
Brandon Williams, Freshman, Guard
Arizona loses all five starters from last year, which were also their top five scoring options. The leading returning scorer is Dylan Smith who averaged 4.3 points in 14.6 minutes per game. Smith is joined by Brandon Randolph, Alex Barcello, Ira Lee and Emmanuel Akot as the lone returning contributors after all played limited minutes as underclassmen. Smith and Randolph saw the most playing time, and both contributed as starters when Rawle Alkins or Allonzo Trier missed time last season. Lee and Akot each averaged around ten minutes per game, but neither became much of a scoring threat. Barcello played the least of the returners, mainly just to give Parker Jackson-Cartwright a breather. All five of the returning players have no shortage of talent but will need to prove their ability to produce when given a larger role this season. Arizona will welcome in some experienced transfers this year as well. Chase Jeter joins as a junior with plenty of talent who just never put it together while at Duke for two seasons. Ryan Luther and Justin Coleman are grad transfers who will give the Wildcats some much needed senior leadership. Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds in ten games for Pittsburgh last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Coleman averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 assists last season for Samford. The Wildcats also have three talented freshmen joining this season. Brandon Williams, Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans are all four-star prospects who could instantly make an impact for Sean Miller as freshmen. Miller had a rough 2017-18 season and it won’t get any easier with a whole new group of players this year. However, Arizona is loaded with talent as always, and Miller is still a great coach who should have this team right back in the race for a Pac-12 championship.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.5 (41st in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.7 (153, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 50.4 (4, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (153, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (260, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (83, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.0 (35, 2)
Rebound Margin: 7.4 (11, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.2 (74, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (109, 6)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#61 Chase Jeter
Madness 2018 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#30 Brandon Williams
#66 Devonaire Doutrive