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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Projecting Arizona’s lineup for next season


Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller directs his team during Arizona’s 91-69 win against Stanford in McKale Center on March 7. Miller and the Wildcats have several lineup changes to make for next season.

Arizona’s men’s basketball is expected to lose its entire starting lineup. So, in trying to project its next first five for next season, you have to really think long and hard.

The Wildcats are reloading with a recruiting class that is currently ranked second by ESPN, behind only Kentucky, and quite frankly, they barely used their 2014 class, which ESPN had sixth.

So, don’t fret, Wildcat fans. Arizona should be fine. You’ll just have to learn some new names. Here are the first five (maybe):

Center — Dusan Ristic

While there is talk that Kaleb Tarczewski could come back after getting into the Eller College of Management, let’s assume he’s leaving early. Seriously, who would pick wearing a suit to class over playing professional basketball?

The Wildcats would then turn to Ristic and incoming freshman Chance Comanche, who is a four-star recruit, according to ESPN, and the 14th-best center.

Comanche is 6-foot-10 and 205 pounds, while Ristic is 7-foot and 245 pounds. So, it’s hard to see coach Sean Miller taking a chance on starting a freshman over a sophomore who scored 12 points in one half against UCLA, a Sweet Sixteen team.

Power forward — Ryan Anderson

This is assuming five-star recruit Ivan Rabb does actually pick Cal over Arizona, like the fan and recruiting sites allege.

Anderson transferred to Arizona from Boston College and had to sit out this season due to NCAA rules. Did he scare away 2014 No. 9 ESPN power forward Craig Victor, who transferred to LSU?

Who knows, but to the victor go the spoils.

Anderson was an All-ACC player in Bean Town, and last season, he was third in the ACC in free-throw attempts per game (6.6), was 12th in scoring and sixth in rebounding.

Small forward — Ray Smith

With forwards Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson soon to be cashing NBA checks, it’s up to Smith to carry on the recent tradition of Wing U.

ESPN ranks Smith as the fourth-best small forward and the 28th-best player in the 2015 class.

Smith is 6-foot-8, an inch taller than Stanley Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson and just an inch smaller than Anderson.

Shooting guard — Allonzo Trier

Unless Rabb or five-star center Stephen Zimmerman picks Arizona, Trier is the Wildcats’ representative in the McDonald’s All-American game.

MaxPreps (which had Stanley Johnson No. 1 last year) ranks Trier as the second-best high school player in the land. He averaged 26.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for Findlay Prep, where Victor, Arizona forward Brandon Ashley and former UA guard Nick Johnson went to school.

Point guard — Gabe York

This is where it gets wild. While Arizona does have an heir-apparent point guard in Parker Jackson-Cartwright, incoming freshman Justin Simon, who ESPN rates as the seventh-best point guard, and Kadeem Allen, a combo guard who redshirted and was the 2014 junior college player of year, maybe Miller starts a shooting guard at the point.

York was the third-string point guard all year, except when Jackson-Cartwright suffered a concussion, and he became the backup. Plus, he will be a senior next season. Allen and Simon are NCAA virgins, and Jackson-Cartwright will just be a sophomore.

York also finished the season strong, scoring in double figures seven times since mid-February. He was the sixth man (averaging 8.2 more minutes than the seventh man and 13.5 more than Jackson-Cartwright) after getting bumped from the starting line in favor of Hollis-Jefferson.

Miller went with the best five in 2015. So, why not again next season?


Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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