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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hoops 2007-08: Player by player

    The Starters

    Jerryd Bayless, freshman guard
    More of a combo guard who plays like Dwyane Wade (though a comparison is certainly premature) he will likely man point guard duties if Arizona is to have its five best players on the floor. UA head coach Lute Olson said the point guard position, one Bayless plays about 95 percent of the time for his high school team, will be Bayless’ future.

    Says UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough: “”He’s a good player, he’s going to fit in very well with those guys. He knows Chase, he knows our other guys. He came down (to Tucson) a lot.””

    Jawann McClellan, senior guard
    The J Mac attack was inconsistent this past year, but as a senior next season, the heart of Arizona will need to instill some much needed toughness in his teammates. No one’s tougher than McClellan, who’s had to deal with some real life obstacles.

    Says UA head coach Lute Olson: “”He has a big heart, and I think he’s going to be very much of a key next year. … He’s one of the guys that has that toughness just naturally. … Hopefully we can lean on him and the other guys that will be our seniors next year.””

    Chase Budinger, sophomore forward
    He will be the star of next year’s team, unless he opts for the NBA, which would go against what he has said in the past. If he improves his defense and becomes more aggressive in taking over games he could end up as one of Arizona’s all-time best players even if he stays just two years.

    Says Olson: “”We probably put a lot more pressure on Chase than what he’s accustomed to. Chase is our best shooter and needs to shoot. He’s so unselfish. … I think Chase has learned a lot as far as the need for intensity all the time.””

    Kirk Walters, senior forward
    The big man was originally supposed to start this year before a bout with mononucleosis sidelined him for all but three minutes this season. If he comes back healthy, his experience and shot blocking inside would be helpful, and he could form a potent shot blocking duo with Hill. The team will find out in June if he gets a redshirt and if he’s completely healthy.

    Says Walters: “”It sucks to be away from the games … It kills you, because you just wanna play so bad.””

    Jordan Hill, sophomore forward
    His continued development will make a difference in how good next year’s team will be. As players make their biggest jumps between their freshman and sophomore years, and since he entered Arizona with minimal experience, if he gets stronger and works hard he could become an imposing force inside.

    Says Olson: “”Jordan Hill made a lot of progress through the course of the year.””

    The Bench:

    Jamelle Horne, freshman forward
    Arizona’s second-best recruit behind Bayless, Horne figures to be a part of the playing rotation immediately, possibly as an eventual starter. How much the athletic slashing forward who has been compared to Richard Jefferson can contribute as a freshman could determine how deep the Wildcats go.

    Says McClellan: “”He’s talented, should have been a McDonald’s All-American, (but) he wasn’t.””

    Nic Wise, sophomore guard
    It was an up-and-down freshman season for the freshman slated to be the next Jason Gardner. Playing behind Mustafa Shakur, minutes were scarce and Wise found himself in an unfamiliar place: the bench. Wise said his offseason goal is to keep his weight under 180 pounds, and working out with Houston’s basketball guru John Lucas should help him fight for more minutes next season.

    Says Wise: “”Obviously it’s tough when you come out at the beginning of the year and you’re playing a whole bunch and then when the season goes down, you’re playing less and less minutes.””

    Daniel Dillon, senior guard
    The Australian ran into an off-court incident at the end of the season, but it shouldn’t derail him from being a solid role player next season. Defensively, Dillon’s quickness and work ethic should provide him an advantage when it comes to sneaking into the rotation. With a slew of guards on the squad, there’s no guarantee his minutes will be increased much more than this season, however.

    Says Olson: “”Daniel is really a tough, hard nosed young man.””

    Bret Brielmaier, senior forward
    Toughness is not a problem for this Minnesota native. With the body of a Big 10 tight end, Brielmaier can give the Wildcats support up front with hard screens, tough defense, rebounding, and hustle. He has never been a liability while in the game, but it will be tough to find significant minutes if the Wildcats decide to play small.

    Says Brielmaier: “”I’m not gonna win games for this team but I’m gonna do everything I can to help set up guys like Chase, Jordan, Jawann to have them carry us.””

    Fendi Onobun, junior forward
    Another of the Houstonians who didn’t get to see the floor too much this season. In fact, Onobun actually played more in his freshman season when he took off his redshirt midway. The hitch holding him back is whether he’s a small forward or a power forward, and with the number of wing players already in place and even more coming in, Onobun will have to fight to keep himself from not being in a similar situation.

    Says Onobun: “”I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better actually since I first stepped foot here but obviously not good enough to be playing significant minutes and I’m fine with that. … Like coach always told me, it’s not a 100-meter dash, it’s a long-distance race.””

    Mohamed Tangara, junior forward
    In three years at Arizona he has yet to fulfill his potential and see more than garbage time off the bench. Although he plays with great energy, a limited offensive game and a propensity for foul trouble still hinder him, so unless either change, it’s unlikely he will leave his usual spot on the bench.

    Zane Johnson, freshman forward
    The Wildcats’ second recruit from Phoenix figures to be a role player off the bench with one main job: Shoot the basketball. The position off the bench has been unfilled in recent years, but if his defense is up to snuff against Division I competition, Johnson could provide some firepower off the bench missing in recent years.

    Says UA assistant coach Josh Pastner: “”Zane is going to be a very good player for us who can really, really shoot the ball. He has a high basketball IQ, is very smart, knows how to play.””

    Laval Lucas-Perry, freshman guard
    A combo guard from Michigan, Perry comes from a basketball family (his dad played at Detroit under Dick Vitale, his sister plays for Michigan State). He’s also a “”tough-minded kid,”” according to Olson. How tough? He was first team all-state in football.

    Says McClellan: “”He’s kind of looked over but I think he’s gonna help us out defensively.””

    Alex Jacobson, freshman forward
    The performer from powerhouse Mater Dei (Calif.) High School looks like a Kirk Walters clone. That means the 7-foot-1, 223-pound center will likely need some time in the weight room and practice situations before making an impact on the court.

    Says Olson: “”He had a great game in the (Calif. state semifinals). Not if you look at the number of points scored but blocks and his presence.””

    David Bagga, junior guard
    When he’s in, Arizona wins. Problem is Bagga, who went 7-0 this season, hasn’t been coming in too much as of late. No one on the team has a better attitude and there’s not much more you can ask for from a walk-on. So like his mother sometimes asks him, “”David, why doesn’t coach play you more?””

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