#10 Arizona Men's Basketball Preview

Arizona Wildcats

Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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2010-11: 30-8, 14-4
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sean Miller (46-23 at Arizona, 166-70 overall)

Arizona is back. After a few years of coaching uncertainty and program rebuilding, the Wildcats are ready to build off of their Elite Eight run of a year ago. Coach Sean Miller has a little work to do to get this team to the same level they finished at in 2010-2011, but the recruiting has been very strong and there are plenty of players who are ready to step up. One of those players might be Jordin Mayes, a 6-2 sophomore point guard. Mayes may not be needed to play too much at the point, but he has a nice shot and is more than capable of running the show.

Who’s Out:
The need for Mayes is because of the transfer of Lamont Jones. Jones was erratic at times and lacked a great all-around game, but he was a good scorer who occasionally set up his teammates quite well. However, the bigger loss is that of Derrick Williams. By the end of his sophomore season, nobody could stop Williams under the basket. He ended up averaging a team high 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds and was selected second in the NBA Draft. Williams was amazingly efficient on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 59.5 percent from the floor and 56.8 percent from beyond the arc. Replacing that production will not happen any time soon and now the focus of the Wildcats will move to the backcourt. The absence of part-time starting forward Jamelle Horne is another reason why Coach Miller may employ a three guard lineup at times. Horne was a decent scorer who could stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability.

Who’s In:
Arizona will miss Williams, but the backcourt has a couple players who are ready to step in and make major contributions right away. Josiah Turner is the prized recruit. The 6-3 point guard can score off the dribble and create shots for himself and his teammates. He is easily the best true point guard the Wildcats have had in a while and the Point Guard U tradition continues with him. Turner should be ready to go from day one, but the Wildcats will have Mayes to fall back on if needed. Guard Nick Johnson can jump out of the gym. He will use that ability to attack the basket, but Johnson is also a fine shooter and should develop into a great player off the bench this season and a star in the years to come. Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson will add some depth in the frontcourt. Chol was a great late pickup and should immediately bolster the Wildcats rebounding and shot blocking abilities. Johnson is also a physical player, but he has a more dynamic offensive game that should pay off this season.

Who to Watch:
Replacing Williams in the frontcourt will have to be a group effort and Arizona has plenty of talent and options. Solomon Hill is a versatile 6-6 forward who can score inside and outside. He averaged 8.0 points and 4.7 rebounds during his sophomore season and is more than capable of boosting those numbers now that he will be asked to contribute more. Jesse Perry started 25 games last year after spending some time in the junior college ranks. Perry may not be a great interior scorer, but he is a fine rebounder on both ends of the floor and is capable of knocking down some outside shots. Kyryl Natyazhko is expected to step into the starting center position. As a sophomore last season the 6-11, 264 pounder averaged less than ten minutes per game, but he has had a nice summer and can be the big body under the basket for this team. Alex Jacobson can fill in some minutes there as well if he can stay healthy. Jacobson has talent, but back problems have limited his minutes to small spurts.

Final Projection:
The backcourt is not just full of freshmen. Kyle Fogg was pretty inconsistent last season from a shooting standpoint, but still managed to average 8.1 points per game. Fogg can be a very dangerous outside shooter and will also help out the young players bringing the ball up the court. When Coach Miller wants to play smaller, Kevin Parrom and Brendon Lavender will get more minutes on the wing. Parrom is a superb all-around player who averaged 7.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season. At 6-6, Parrom is tough to guard since he is such a consistent outside shooter and will use his size to get to the basket. This is a team that could go 11 or 12 deep very easily without much drop off in production. That depth will be tough to match and keep Arizona fresh down the stretch. If the youngsters live up to their billing, this is a team that should win the Pac-12 and could make another very deep run in March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Josiah Turner, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Kyle Fogg, Senior, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Solomon Hill, Junior, Forward, 8.0 points per game
Jesse Perry, Senior, Forward, 6.6 points per game
Kryrl Natyazhko, Junior, Center, 1.9 points per game

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#7 Josiah Turner
#33 Nick Johnson
#65 Angelo Chol
#99 Sidiki Johnson

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