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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Guards will make the Wildcats go this upcoming season

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Rebecca Noble
Arizona guard Rawle Alkins (1) tries to clear a shot past Arizona forward Ray Smith (24) during the Red-Blue game at McKale Center on Oct. 14, 2016.

Arizona men’s basketball will be coming into the 2017–2018 season loaded with talent. Head coach Sean Miller pulled his highest ranked recruiting class since 2013, including prospects Deandre Ayton, Ira Lee and an electric shooting guard from upstate New York, Brandon Randolph. 

The addition of Randolph is a definite win for Arizona since the Wildcats lost depth at the guard and small forward position from last year with Kadeem Allen and Kobi Simmons declaring for the NBA. 

Brandon Randolph shoots the ball during the McDonald's Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.
Brandon Randolph shoots the ball during the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

With Alkins out for the first two months of the season with a foot fracture, Randolph will most likely take his place at the two, like he did earlier in the summer during the Spain exhibitions. 

“If you watched us in Spain, [Randolph] showed his immense talent,” Miller said. “Not just because he can shoot it, but athletically, he’s caught me by surprise.”

Comparatively, in the first of the exhibition games in Spain, Alkins went out with a sprained shoulder injury, and in his place, Randolph scored 14 points, which may be a sign of what we can expect at the beginning of the season.

Arizona guard Rawle Alkins (1) tries to clear a shot past Arizona forward Ray Smith (24) during the Red-Blue game at McKale Center on Oct. 14, 2016.
Arizona guard Rawle Alkins (1) tries to clear a shot past Arizona forward Ray Smith (24) during the Red-Blue game at McKale Center on Oct. 14, 2016.

Alongside Randolph in the new recruiting class is Emmanuel Akot, a five-star small forward from Canada who could prove to be integral as an off-the-bench player. Akot can be compared to Alkins in some aspects; he has impressive size at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, and he’s an agile, multifaceted player, as observed by Miller earlier in the offseason.

“He’s as versatile of a player as we’ve had,” Miller said. “He can play any number of positions, is an incredible passer, plays extremely hard.”

Akot has even taken reps at point and could potentially back up Parker Jackson-Cartwright if injury occurs. And in practice, Jackson-Cartwright is impressed with how he controls an offense.

“He doesn’t get sped up,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “He makes the right play almost every time.”

Dylan Smith runs toward the basket during the McDonald's Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.
Dylan Smith runs toward the basket during the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

University of North Carolina-Asheville transfer Dylan Smith also adds to the immense depth the Wildcats have at wing. Smith practiced with the Wildcats last season, taking reps defending and learning guard from Simmons and Alkins.

“These guys are great — Allonzo, Rawle, Kobi — great guards, future pros. Just guarding against them every day has made me better,” Smith said. “I know I’m as good as they are.”

Alkins is expected to be one of the best guards in all of college basketball this year after having a breakout season in 2016, where he averaged almost 11 points per game.

The combination of a healthy Alkins, Randolph and Akot, and support on the bench with Dylan Smith will make the Wildcats deep and lethal from the wing in the upcoming season.  


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