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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tarczewski and York go the distance to complete college careers

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Rebecca Noble

Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski (35) does his best imitation of a wall for the Xavier offense during the NCAA Tournament on March 26. Tarczewski has a chance to become the winningest all-time player in Arizona basketball history.

One of the rare elements in today’s college basketball world is watching a student become a senior and play all four years of their eligibility. With the NBA’s money luring one-and-done freshman and other talented players, seeing a student listed as a senior is becoming more unique with each passing season.

The Wildcats have two seniors this season in Kaleb “Zeus” Tarczewski and Gabe York, who both will have played all four seasons in the Arizona red and blue. Both have played on two Elite Eight teams—with multiple players now thriving on the professional stage—won a Pac-12 Tournament Championship and been ranked No. 1 in the country.

Tarczewski and York can both put an exclamation point on what have been two solid careers.

“I’ve been through so many experiences since I’ve been here at the [UA],” Tarczewski said at the team’s media day. “I’ve kind of seen it all. [This year] is really kind of an opportunity for me to come back and help the younger guys along and hopefully make their experience a lot easier.”

Tarczewski, who was listed as the No. 4 recruit in the class of 2012 out of Claremont, New Hampshire, came into Arizona part of a class that included York, Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett.

The 7-foot center has already had a big 2015. He won a bronze medal with Team USA at the Pan American Games under Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. According to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, Tarczewski and York both have a chance to become the all-time winningest players at Arizona.

Tarczewski is 18 wins away from becoming the winningest player in a rich program history. But for him, there is one main goal that he would like to focus on.

“For me, I just want to be able to have fun,” Tarczewski said. “It’s my last year in college. I’m never going to get to do it again, and to be able to go out there and enjoy my senior year, … step away with a degree and hopefully win a ton of basketball games this year—I think that’s the most important thing for me.”

Miller said the leadership these two bring, along with newcomers Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen, will be instrumental to this team’s success.

“These four seniors—three of which were with us a year ago, adding [Tollefsen] as a fourth—I hope will guide the ship to this season,” Miller said.

York has been one of Arizona’s steadiest improvements over the past couple of seasons. The West Covina, California, native played in all 37 games for the Wildcats last season and started 13 of them.

York said staying patient gave him a level head as he waited for his opportunity.

“As a freshman, don’t get discouraged,” York said. “Don’t get down on yourself and don’t think you’re not good enough to play. You got a scholarship and you’re here for a reason; it’s just not your time yet. … Sophomore year came around and I was playing 20 minutes a game, scoring the ball and doing what I love to do.”

The 6-foot-3, sharp-shooting guard is one of the better 3-point shooters on the team and was second in free throw percentage last season. He was given the start at shooting guard during the exhibition against Chico State and finished 5-for-8 from the field with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.

York said he is looking to become more than just a shooter. Like Tarczewski, York also said he is embracing the leadership role as senior.

“Whether I like it or not, I have to be in that role,” York said. “I like being able to talk and communicate throughout the whole practice and letting the younger guys know what they’re supposed to do in certain situations. I’ve been through it for three years now. I’ve been through 300-plus practices. I know how it works, so it makes the game easier for me, too, because not only do I get to help them, but I get to improve myself.”

In Arizona’s Friday opener, look for York and Tarczewski to help lead the young and talented roster. On a team with so many new faces and with their wealth of experience, these two seniors will show why having four-year seniors is so valuable to a team’s success in college basketball today.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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