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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


PJC emerges as quiet leader at perfect time

Simon Asher
Arizona State’s Tra Holder avoids fouling Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright late in the UA-ASU game. Jackson-Cartwright led the wildcats with 6 assists.

Leadership is a wheel of chance that every college basketball team in the country spins from year to year. The lucky ones, like Arizona men’s basketball, have players in waiting, ready for their opportunity to take the reins and control the team. But every leadership model (sorry for the ASU pun) is different, and in the case of senior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, his is invaluable to the Wildcats.

Jackson-Cartwright has gone under the radar for the most part. Pundits have pointed out the point guard position as being the one weakness on a potential Final Four team. Fair or unfair, Jackson-Cartwright has let his play speak for itself. He has a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, averaging nearly five assists a game and is shooting 50 percent from three. In other words, he is not a player defenses can ignore.

“He’s like a coach on the bench, he’s always talking, just making sure guys are in the right place even if he’s not in the game,” Arizona guard Dylan Smith said. “His voice is much needed on the team. A lot of guys don’t understand the importance of communication, not all the time, but sometimes guys get quiet.”

His improvement doesn’t just lie in attempting to fill the shoes of former players like Kadeem Allen and TJ McConnell, it is evident within his production as well. A career five point, three assist player, Jackson-Cartwright has evolved into being one of the most consistent shooter’s on the team, increasing his percentages across the board in 3-point, field goals and free throws.

And that isn’t the most significant impact, that is reserved for the opposite end of the floor where Jackson-Cartwright has routinely been matched up against some of the best point guards in the country, like Collin Sexton of Alabama and Tra Holder of Arizona State. In each of those matchups he was effective on the ball, giving very little to the opposition. In the two examples mentioned, each player, instead, scored off of other players and as a result of getting to the foul line, neither a result of man-to-man defense by way of PJC.

Arizona State's Tra Holder charges at Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright, drawing a foul. Holder had 31 points and led ASU in scoring.
Arizona State’s Tra Holder charges at Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright, drawing a foul. Holder had 31 points and led ASU in scoring.

“In some ways he is the perfect point guard for this team,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “…Defensively I think this is the best that he’s played. Even against ASU, Tra Holder had a big night, he has big nights against a lot of players, but a lot of those points didn’t come just 1-on-1 against Parker. He thrived in transition and sometimes against other matchups, so Parker is a really important part of our team success.”

Arizona State's Tra Holder, right, blows past Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright, left, in the first half of the UA-ASU game.
Arizona State’s Tra Holder, right, blows past Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright, left, in the first half of the UA-ASU game.

His contributions on a national level have gone unnoticed, but that doesn’t seem to bother Parker-Cartwright. It never has, even when asked about it last season he was very nonchalant in his care for attention. And to Millers point, that is why he is perhaps the best point guard to lead this team full of potential stars, doing so without the focus himself may lead to more notoriety down the road…possibly in San Antonio, home of the Final Four.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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