Arizona Wildcats virtual media day recap, part one: The backcourt


Amy Bailey

Arizona sophomore Jemarl Baker Jr. runs past the Illinois defense and gets ready to dunk the ball.

Ryan Wohl

This past Thursday, Nov. 5 and Friday, Nov. 6, members of the 2020-21 Arizona Wildcats spoke to the media for the first time since the start of pre-season camp.

Arizona’s new backcourt came into this pandemic-filled year feeling positive and getting used to playing with different players then they’re used to.

Head coach Sean Miller has helped ease some of that pain by bringing back NCAA champion, NBA champion and former Arizona Wildcat onto his staff with the Jet, Jason Terry. Terry is a true student of the game and trusted veteran across the sport as he wrapped up his 19-year NBA career two years ago.

“It’s been amazing, he knows what he takes to get there,” point guard James Akinjo said. “He never allows me or any of the guards to take any days off.”

It should be a promising sign to see Terry already making a huge impact across the team in such a short period of time.

WIth the season right around the corner, here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ guards and forwards this season.

Jr. | James Akinjo | 6-1 | 

James Akinjo started his collegiate career at the Georgetown University where he was named Big East freshman of the year after his first season. After seven games in his sophomore season, he entered the transfer portal where he eventually chose to come to Tucson and be a Wildcat. He couldn’t play last season for Arizona due to the NCAA transfer eligibility rules, but he took it as a positive to get better every day.

“Sitting out has been hard but also really helpful not just for my game but as a person,” Akinjo said. “My focus has been learning the system, trying to be ready and hit the ground running. Arizona is the right fit for me in how I want to play, I love the school, the coach and the fans.”

Gr. | Terrell Brown Jr. | 6-3 | 

Jason Terry is also the godfather of new Wildcat, Terrell Brown Jr., who transferred this season from Seattle University. Terrell is an elite scorer as he averaged over 20 points last season which was good for No. 20 overall in D-1 basketball.

“Having [Terry] here made it a lot more comfortable for me,” Brown said. “He’s been really hands on with me here. We watch film together and text.”

Brown said he remembers going to Terry’s games as a kid. He has been around the game his whole life and said he looks up to one of the greatest shooting guards of all time.

“I remember when I was younger, we went to Dallas and I was a ball boy,” Brown said.

RELATED: Arizona Wildcats land 4-star SG Shane Nowell

Fr. | Kerr Kriisa| 6-3 |

Kerr Kriisa is a very talented guard who can play either backcourt position and is a high level shooter. Kriisa played in the Lithuanian Basketball League last season and showed flashes that he could be a successful player in the United States.

“Everything is more physical, especially playing against [Akinjo],” Kriisa said. “James is on my ass every day.”

Freshman Kriisa is named after Arizona Wildcat legend Steve Kerr, who has his number (25) hanging in the McKale Center rafters.

“Steve is a legendary play and better coach now,” Kriisa said. “Now I’m wearing his number and I take more responsibility with this number 25, it’s in good hands.”

Fr. | Dalen Terry | 6-7 | 

Dalen Terry is from Phoenix, Arizona and was one of the most exciting players to watch in this years’ class. He is a very good example of position less basketball because he is listed at 6-7 but can handle the ball like a guard and has the ability to guard bigger players. According to 247sports, he was ranked as the No. 45 player in the 2020 recruiting class and listed as a four-star player out of high school.

“I put on about 16 pounds, having to guard some of the bigger guards in the country, and trying to get better overall as a player,” Terry said. “Practice is going real well, there is a lot of versatility on this team. I’m just here doing what coach Miller is telling me to do. I have had to figure out a different way to score the basketball because it’s a new level. We are all getting better at our weakness’ and we are going to overall be a good team.”

R-Jr. | Jemarl Baker Jr. | 6-5 | 

Jemarl Baker was a very productive player in limited minutes last season where he averaged six points, 2.3 assists, while shooting 36 percent from deep and 83 percent from the free throw line. He always was a steady complement to the teams higher scoring players last season and doing so with making very few mistakes. Last season he went back and forth between playing point guard and shooting guard but this season he might be sticking in one place.

“It’s been fun playing off the ball, being aggressive and look to score and I’m getting more comfortable there,” Baker said. “I think it’s going really well being able to gel with everyone and develop chemistry on and off the court. We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball from the perimeter and we’re working real hard and continuing to grow.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon featuring this year’s Wildcat frontcourt players.

Follow Ryan Wohl on Twitter