It was a busy offseason for Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats. With the departures of Josiah Turner and Kyryl Natyazhko and the addition of seven new players including four incoming freshmen, team building is an immediate need for the team many have tabbed as conference champion.
The most senior of the group is Xavier transfer, Mark Lyons. The 6-1, 188 lb. Senior Guard from Schectady, N.Y. brings a ton of experience to the Wildcats and is looking to become the point guard that Arizona needs. This will only help his prospects going into the 2013 draft.
Another transfer heading for the sunshine of Tucson, Arizona is T.J. McConnell from Duquesne. Almost the same size of Lyons at 6-1, 185, he will be most likely taking over the point guard position after sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. McConnell looks to add his name to the illustrious list of graduates from Arizona’s Point Guard U and with his pass-first mentality and accuracy from beyond the arc, I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen.
Matt Korcheck is a Tucson native and has played at nearby Cochise Junior College in Douglas, AZ. The 6-9, 218 junior forward has asked to redshirt his first season at Arizona to adapt to the speed and experience needed to compete at the Division I level for a perennial championship contender. His rebounding and defensive prowess will be much improved after a year of practice and the Cats will reap the benefits in the 2013-14 season.
Moving onto the four drafted freshmen we start with guard Gabe York. Out of West Covina, CA, this 6-1, 170 freshman will likely be a reserve shooting guard learning from experts at the position in Nick Johnson and Kevin Parrom. He could get a chance to see some time at point guard as his ability to score is great and his ball handling skills are good.
Out of Dublin, CA comes 6-8, 215 lb forward Brandon Ashley. Ashley is a highly touted recruit and a big man in the post. His ability to score isn’t just around the basket although he is incredible in the paint. Being that he is a big man, he needs to concentrate on the rebounds and playing gritty defense, I see him as the future power forward for the Cats in seasons to come.
When it comes to big men, Arizona won the lottery when they received commitments from the next two players. Claremont, N.H. product Kaleb Tarczewski. The 7-0, 230 lb. center signed with Arizona after last years Red & Blue Game where he met other Arizona signees and they bonded immediately. I am sure his decision was aided by the lovely weather in Arizona as opposed to the constant onslaught of snow in his native New Hampshire. His huge presence will be a definite plus to the Cats inside game as will his defense and toughness around the basket. Look for Tarczewski to make an immediate impact to this team.
The most heralded recruit coming to Arizona this year is the 6-10, 220 lb. center/power forward out of Chino, CA, Grant Jerrett. Ranked at #9 on the ESPN 100, Jerrett is going to be the prefect fit for Miller and the Wildcats. This smart, tough player will dominate the boards as well as hit shots from medium range. He is capable from long range as well which makes Jerrett a threat whenever he is on the court. He will most likely be the starting center for the Cats this season and into future barring any unforeseen circumstances.
This looks to be an exciting season for the Wildcats as well as for everybody in southern Arizona. Over the past 25 years, there has been one constant – a dominant Arizona Wildcat men’s basketball team.
After the departure of legendary head coach Lute Olson, things looked bleak for Arizona. Thanks to the big time hire of Sean Miller to Arizona, his recruiting prowess has proven to be the one thing that was needed for Arizona’s return to an elite team. With one of the best classes coming into the 2012-13 season, Miller will continue to build on his legacy and will stop at nothing short of complete conference domination…and I think he will do it.
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