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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Time for Miller to put the pieces together in 2016-2017


Arizona head coach Sean Miller throws his arms upward following the Wildcats’ victory over California in McKale Center on Thursday, March 3. Miller will get to play with many pieces of the puzzle next season with many new additions and recruits headed Arizona’s way.

Sean Miller is a college basketball recruiting mastermind. Few are able to debate that statement.

When all is said and done, the Arizona Wildcats will be one talented group out on the court. But Arizona will still have to compete in one of the top conferences in the Pac-12 Conference.

With so many pieces, where do they all fit?


Ray Smith will be hungry after sitting out two straight seasons with ACL injuries. Smith provides an excellent spark on the wing.

A lot about Smith’s play at a collegiate level is currently unknown, but his teammates should be able to rely on his leadership next season.

Allonzo Trier is the biggest piece to the puzzle right now. The 6-foot-6 small forward very well could test the NBA Draft waters. Trier, however, is not currently expected to be drafted.

Rawle Alkins will be another person in the mix. Defenders should watch out if Alkins gets the ball on a fast break.

He was known to blow past defenders and show off some monster dunks in high school. He can also hit a step-back jumper and has the ability to knock down the 3-point shot.

Terrance Ferguson and Josh Jackson are two more big question marks. It’s possible that neither will end up at Arizona, but Miller is doing everything in his power to make it happen.

Ferguson would give the Wildcats a steady shooter and a go-to 3-point threat. Jackson is the top recruit in the country and can plow down defenders.

Big men

Dusan Ristic, Lauri Markkanen and Chance Comanche are three players who immediately jump off the page for the Wildcats’ frontcourt.

Replacing a four-year starting center will be challenging, but these three bring upsides to a young program looking for answers.

Comanche impressed toward the end of 2015-2016 season after receiving little playing time from the start. Most of the time, it was the little things: a good pass or an impressive defensive stand. But Comanche could be one of the X-factors for the UA next season.

When it comes to Ristic, he had one mean post presence but obviously struggled on his defense. Most predict the 7-foot center from Serbia will start in the future.

He switched off playing time with Kaleb Tarczewski for most of the season, but without Zeus in the picture, look for Ristic to pick up where he left off.

Markkanen, a four-star power forward out of Finland has the chance to make an all-international frontcourt for Arizona next season. His 3-point shot will give Arizona something it hasn’t had since Channing Frye left Tucson. Look for Markkanen and Comanche to switch off playing time, unless Miller ends up grabbing another big man in the recruiting process.


If you thought the front court was crowded, watch out for the back court.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen will return to their general floor spots. Allen will potentially be the only senior on the roster next season, so who knows, Miller may rely on him more than ever.

Also in the mix will be Kobi Simmons, who can pass the ball off and score when it is needed. His 6-foot-3 presence gives the UA something rare in a big point guard that can defend the ball well, too.

Talent is a scary thing and this Arizona team will likely have it when the ball is tipped off in McKale Center next season. 

Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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