Arizona Basketball season is just around the corner. With game one set at the Armed Forces Classic against the Michigan State Spartans on Nov. 11, fans will be eagerly waiting to watch some Wildcats Basketball this year.
The Cats are now stacked with three five-star freshmen, plus some great transfers and a solid veteran core at the helm. There will be great challenges for Sean Miller’s Wildcats this year that will put them to the test to put the fans at the edge of the seat (and keeping them distracted from the embarrassment that is Arizona Football). But in all seriousness, with the College Basketball season rapidly approaching, and so much to look forward to, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the 2016-2017 Arizona Wildcats.
The 5-Star Trio
RAWLE ALKINS: Rawle Alkins joins the depth of the Wildcats point gaurds for this season. Arguable the most anticipated recruit to join the Wildcats this year, he was wanked 21st among all basketball recruits in the class of 2016. Standing at 6’4” this man is just the perfect size for his position. Need something to believe all this hype though? Ok, watch this video of Alkins dunking over Coach Sean Miller during the annual Red Blue Scrimmage.
KOBI SIMMONS: Here’s another freshman point guard. The depth is obviously there in that position. Simmons was Arizona’s second commit of the 2016 class (behind Markkanen, mentioned below). Signed out of St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, Ga., Kobi is ready to go as part of this great Arizona Wildcats team.
LAURI MARKKANEN: You may have heard of this guy. Or maybe not. Well he’s a Power Forward from Helsinki, Finland. Lauri Markkanen was originally listed as a 4-star recuit, before turning 5-star shortly before officially signing with the University of Arizona. This guy stands at seven-feet tall, towering over many of his teammates.
KEANU PINDER: Pinder is a 6’9” junior transfer from Perth, Australia. The last two seasons Pinder played at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Coach Miller has repeatedly said that he believes that Pinder is going to be able to contribute right away.
Talbott Denny: Denny is a 6’5” senior transfer who is originally from Tucson but has played the past three season at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Denny averaged 23 minutes a game last year and scored about 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
Dylan Smith: Smith is a 6’5” sophomore transfer from UNC Asheville. His team lost to the eventual champions, the Villanova Wildcats, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Smith managed to average 13.5 pts last year for UNCA.
Allonzo Trier*: Shortly before the Wildcats’ annual Red-Blue scrimmage, rumors began circulating that Allonzo Trier may be suspended for the 2016-2017 season. Since the first rumors, Head Coach Sean Miller has continued to refuse to comment on any questions regarding Trier’s eligibility status this year, neither confirming nor denying. You can definitely say the press is going to keep their tabs on coach Miller and Trier in the coming days leading up to the first game vs Michigan state. Only in time, can we learn the truth about his status. But in the meantime, enjoy the confusion and suspense.
Chance Comanche**: Shortly before Arizona’s preseason exhibition against the College of Idaho on Nov. 1, Head Coach Sean Miller announced that “due to the lack of academic responsibility,” Chance Comanche has been suspended by the program indefinitely. As a freshman, Comanche averaged 1.9 points in about 6 minutes per game in 23 games for the Wildcats. Comanche was slated to have a breakout season while filling in to replace Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski, however, with his suspension, that will obviously not be the case. UPDATE: Comanche has been cleared to play and is in Hawaii for the Armed Forces Classic vs Michigan State.
Dusan Ristic: Junior from Novi Sad, Serbia. He’s just another international stud playing at center for the Wildcats. He matches freshmen Lauri Markkanen’s height of seven-feet. Last year, Ristic averaged 16.5 minutes per game with about 7.1 points. As center, Ristic recorded 23 blocks over the season.
Kadeem Allen: #5 for the Wildcats stands as the team’s oldest player. Kadeem Allen is now a senior and thus enters his last year as an Arizona Wildcat. When Allen transfered to Arizona as a junior last year, he averaged 24.9 minutes with 8.4 points per game. As the senior, Allen will look to guide this team with leadership and setting an example to the new freshmen.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright: Kadeem Allen may be the oldest player, but #0 Parker Jackson-Cartwright is probably the most experienced. He doesn’t get very many points, but as a guard for the last two years, he’s been a key factor in the Wildcats paths to victory in many games. Now that he’s becoming a true veteran, let’s see if he can deliver with leadership now.
- Big Ten
- West Coast Conference
- Mountain West
- Other Conferences
MICHIGAN STATE: How about this team for a season opener? Michigan State is ranked 12th in the Nation, according to the AP Preseason Poll, while Arizona is 10th. What makes things interesting at this game, is neither of these teams will claim a home advantage. This matchup will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii as part of the Armed Forces Classic. Expect this game to be nothing but the best.
TEXAS A&M:One of the Wildcats toughest games of the year, will come at the hands of Texas A&M in December. The Aggies come into this season having lost a large amount of the talent that propelled them towards an SEC regular season title and an appearance in the Sweet 16. Young rising star Tyler Davis, will carry the work load for a majority of the season. As the sophomore center looks to build on what has already been a promising college career. It what should be a great Lone Star Shootout, expect this game to take the game.
GONZAGA: Gonzaga is a solid matchup for the Wildcats. Gonzaga is losing their two top scorers and they will still be figuring themselves out early in the season. Gonzaga does not face any solid competition until they play Arizona on December 3rd.
TEXAS SOUTHERN: Who is Texas Southern? Well for one, they play in the SWAC, or Southwestern Athletic Conference. These two teams played each other last in the 2015 NCAA Tournament second round. Southern could never get past that round, let alone win a single round in the NIT. Don’t expect much out of this game, it won’t be all that exciting, if that.
GRAND CANYON: Days before an epic show down with Texas A&M, the Arizona Wildcats will welcome the lonely Grand Canyon university to town, in a tune up game. Hailing from the WAC, not much is expected from the Antelopes in this one, as the Wildcats talent will be way too much for Grand Canyon to handle. A win by a margin of 20-30, but don’t be surprised if Arizona wins this game by 40.
UC IRVINE: Not a fantastic matchup for the Wildcats here. The Anteaters have a plethora of experienced guards, including G Jaron Martin. Unlike Gonzaga, UCI plays Cal, Pacific, and Santa Clara before they play Arizona, which lends itself to being ready.
Pac-12 Conference Games
OREGON: Consider this matchup the best of the year. Oregon is ranked 1st in the PAC-12 and 5th in the nation. They’ve recently established themselves as a modern basketball powerhouse in one of the best conferences to play the game. They’re no laughing matter. And for Arizona, it’s a chance at revenge after the Ducks swept them last year (once at home, and once in Las Vegas during the PAC-12 Tournament Semi-Finals). Both teams are great this year. Expect some of the greatest basketball you’ll see all year.
UCLA: In a year were the Pac-12 is top heavy, featuring the likes of Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA. After an extremely disappointing campaign last year, the Bruins poised for a turn around this time out. If you’re not familiar with the name Lonzo Ball, then get use to hearing it a lot. The highly decorated recruit comes into his freshman year with the sky as the limit, and many predicting him to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Facing each other twice this season, not to mentioned both teams spot more than talented rosters, it should be a treat to see the Bruins and Wildcats battle it out this year.
CALIFORNIA: Cal has a tough schedule through and through. The week before they play U of A, they play at home vs. Virginia. If they lose that game, it will undoubtedly be deflating. The Cats have a great amount of athleticism over the Bears which could propel them to a nice win.
ARIZONA STATE: It doesn’t get any better than the Territorial Cup right? WRONG. In the preseason PAC-12 media polls, Arizona State was ranked 11th in the PAC-12, only narrowly finding themselves ahead of Washington State. The most excitement you might get out of this game would be Bobby Hurley being ejected again.
WASHINGTON STATE: There are few teams in the Pac-12 the Wildcats should be worried about and Washington State, is not one of those teams. The Cougars were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 this year and after winning only one game in the conference last season, it remains to see how much has changed since then. Sean Miller’s teams rarely slip up in conference play, which makes both games against Washington State no different, look for two easy w’s over the Cougars.
STANFORD: Stanford is looking to have a breakout season. Reid Travis is really impressing in the preseason and Stanford is smart and experienced. Playing at home is always good for the Wildcats as they won 49 straight games over a 3 year period. That’s pretty good odds.
SEASON OUTCOME PRECITIONS
Arizona has the potential to be something great this year. They lost some talent, but only to replace them with superstars. The new freshmen will sure beef up the talent of the Wildcats, but there still might be a problem with it all. Allonzo Trier’s questionable status leaves me wondering what the Wildcats can do without him. Ray Smith’s ACL injury and subsequent retirement from basketball leaves Arizona stripped of it’s depth. Luckily, however, Chance Comanche has been reported to return for the matchup against Michigan State. Expect a great season out of the Wildcats. Prediction: Final Four (with Allonzo); otherwise, Sweet Sixteen.
The Wildcats will undoubtedly have a solid run this year. With some of the most sought after freshman recruits in the country, this team will be dynamic and score a lot of points. Where the Cats may falter is against some non-conference foes such as Michigan State and Gonzaga who claim more experience. I predict that the Wildcats will finish 21-9 in the regular season and make it to the Sweet Sixteen where they will be deprived of an Elite Eight berth by Wisconsin.
Arizona will be among the better teams this year in college basketball, after somewhat over a mediocre outing last season. Seeing as they return key veteran players such as Allonzo Trier and with extremely talented 5-star recruits added to the roster. The Wildcats are set up for a postseason run this year, that could see them playing well into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Sweet 16