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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Recruits make Arizona the new ‘Wing U’

Tyler Baker
Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller coaches his team during Arizona’s 99-67 win over Washington. Miller is working to recruit Rawle Alkins, a five star basketball recruit visiting Arizona this week.

Arizona men’s basketball adopted the nickname “Point Guard U” for its superior point guard play, but the attention might shift to the wings next year.

With the inclusion of Terrance Ferguson to the 2016 team, Arizona now has a number of options to man the wings. Ferguson was the highest-rated available recruit and this acquisition leapfrogs Arizona’s recruiting class to third behind only Duke and Kentucky.

Although Duke and Kentucky dominate the top 10, Arizona’s deep, versatile class more than makes up for that.

While Josh Jackson ended up at Kansas, Arizona still boasts the second—and third—highest ranked shooting guards in this year’s class in Ferguson and Rawle Alkins. Let’s not forget about Allonzo Trier: The second-ranked shooting guard of 2015 is returning for his sophomore year and averaged close to 15 points last season.

Incoming five-star Kobi Simmons could man the point guard position and allow Arizona to overwhelm teams with size, length and athleticism. Part of the reason Simmons chose Arizona is because of pace, and few guards can push the tempo quiet like Simmons.

Simmons could start right away or learn from returning point guards Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright while he adjusts to the college game. The case for Kadeem Allen will be interesting as he is a natural shooting guard so he could earn more minutes off the ball while Kobi runs the offense.

With these players dominating the wing positions, five-star forward Ray Smith could possibly see minutes at power forward to maximize the talent overload at Arizona. Smith missed all of last season with an ACL injury, but he did bulk up from the 180-190 range to 210 while recovering. His athleticism and defensive potential could become a problem for opposing teams.

Having Smith at the power forward spot also gives Arizona someone athletic enough to combat Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Oregon’s success this season, with 6-foot-7 Dillon Brooks and 6-foot-6 Elgin Cook as forwards, shows this style can work in the Pac-12. Arizona has the personnel to adapt to that style.

Next year will be interesting because Sean Miller does not typically have so many freshmen ready to contribute.

Usually one freshman—like Stanley Johnson or Aaron Gordon—has a leading role while other freshman play spot minutes. Dividing up the minutes could get interesting next year, but this is a great problem for Miller.

All these acquisitions, along with the 2017 Final Four occurring in Phoenix, mean the stars might be aligning for the Wildcats to turn Phoenix into McKale Center.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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