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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona men’s basketball to honor seniors before Washington game

Amy Bailey
After watching Ira Lee score against Washington State, Wildcat Jake DesJardins keeps the crowd entertained by keeping the benches energy up.

From T.J. McConnell kissing the floor at midcourt, Gabe York going crazy from beyond the arc and Dusan Ristic breaking out a “Dusan loves Tucson” undershirt, Senior Day inside McKale Center has provided some special moments in recent years.

As big-time college basketball programs have shifted from having multiple players stay four years, the day has also lost some of the allure it once carried.

Of the five players who will take part in the ceremony before Arizona’s final home game against Washington on Saturday, none were recruited to play for the Wildcats straight out of high school. The non-traditional paths that brought them to the desert ranged from a college basketball blue blood in Duke, to smaller programs such as University of North Carolina Asheville and University of California, Irvine. 

The ceremony will take place before the game as opposed to after, with Arizona head coach Sean Miller finding the 8 p.m. tipoff as too late of a start to accommodate the 16 players and managers taking part. 

“It’s not because we’re worried about winning or losing or we don’t value this group as much as others, that’s furthest from the truth,” Miller said. “It’s just like a lot of things, you have to adjust to the time.”

Whether they played a large or small role on the court, each player leaving McKale Center had an impact on the program. Here are some of the highlights each of the five seniors being honored had during their career as a Wildcat.

Dylan Smith

Career at Arizona: 

A transfer from UNC Asheville, Smith has played the most games in a Wildcat uniform of the five players being honored on Saturday, with 96 appearances and 53 starts. Known primarily for his work on the defensive side of the ball, Smith typically has guarded the best perimeter player for the opposing teams the last two seasons with the occasional scoring outburst. 

Best Performance: Wooden Legacy Tournament

Arizona went into Anaheim, Calif., this season as the overwhelming favorite in a weaker field than usual for the Wooden Legacy, but was given a scare in each of their three games. Had it not been for the scoring of Smith, the Wildcats potentially wouldn’t win the tournament and suffer more than one loss, which would have been devastating to their seeding in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of weeks. Over that three game stretch that saw him named to the All-Tournament team, Smith averaged 15.3 points on 62% from the floor, led by 20 points in the championship against Wake Forest University, a career high at Arizona.

Chase Jeter

Career at Arizona: 

Jeter was a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American in high school when he chose to attend Duke University over Arizona, but after not seeing much action his first two seasons in Durham, N.C., he ultimately chose the Wildcats the second time around. A fixture on offense and at times Arizona’s go-to scorer his first season, Jeter averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds with 19 games in double figures. Returning to an Arizona team with more fire power on offense, Jeter was not as much of a threat this season and lost his starting spot after 16 games due to a combination of injury and an emphasis on more shooting in the lineup. He averaged 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 21 games this season, but was suspended on Thursday for the final two games of the year due to a violation of team rules.

Best Performance: Wooden Legacy Tournament

While he may have had better numbers scoring the ball for the Wildcats last season, Arizona was dealing with too much roster turnover and question marks surrounding the program to be competitive, finishing just 17-15. With Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji carrying Arizona offensively, Jeter, like Smith, took a backseat on offense. Anaheim also saw him come alive when he was needed, averaging 15.3 points and 5 rebounds on a blistering 77% from the field. Over the tournament’s three games, Jeter missed just six shots on his way to being an All-Tournament selection.

Max Hazzard

Career at Arizona: 

Hazzard was familiar to fans already, with his brother Jacob graduating in 2016 after four seasons with the program. A UC Irvine graduate transfer, Hazzard was known for his prolific shooting with the Anteaters, evidenced by his 94 made 3-pointers last season and clutch performance in their NCAA Tournament victory over Kansas State. He has shown flashes this season of that ability, knocking down multiple threes in nine games this season. Hazzard has also at times struggled to gain a rhythm, due in part to Miller’s inconsistent substitution patterns. He has made 34-89 attempts this season from three but has missed two of the past three games due to personal reasons, with his status for Saturday remaining to be seen.

Best Performance: 24 points against Utah

The senior showed how he knocked down 10 3-pointers in a game last season, falling just three short of the McKale Center record of nine set by Gabe York and Salim Stoudamire. Hazzard went 7-11 from the floor and 6-10 from beyond the arc in just 17 minutes, leading Arizona to a 93-77 victory over the University of Utah.

Stone Gettings

Career at Arizona:

Gettings was teammates with former Arizona point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright in high school, taking his talents from high school in Southern California all the way to play at Cornell in the Ivy League. A prolific scorer during his final season with the Big Red, Gettings averaged 16.7 points and shot 37% from 3, with his ability to stretch the floor making him different from other bigs on the Arizona roster. Gettings missed some time after suffering an eye injury in Anaheim, but came back to eventually move into the starting lineup, allowing for more spacing and shooters to be on the floor. He was recently named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, carrying a 4.0 GPA off the court and averaging 6.7 points and 4 rebounds on it. 

Best Performance: 19 points and 12 rebounds at Washington State University

With the opportunity to gain their first road sweep of the season in sight, Gettings played his best game of the season, going 8-13 from the floor for a season-high 19 points, while also grabbing 12 rebounds. Gettings averaged 16 points and 7.5 rebounds over the Washington road trip, the first two road wins Arizona had all season. 

Jake DesJardins

Career at Arizona:

DesJardins has been a fan favorite in his three seasons at Arizona since joining as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship last season after two years of hard work. With Arizona at times hurting for big bodies, DesJardins logged spot minutes in a few games last season as well, something not expected or typical of a former walk-on. He has sat out this season after graduating, with Miller hinting he is looking into possibly transferring to a smaller school to play his last season of college basketball next year. 

Best Performance: Three points against Houston Baptist University

DesJardins played five minutes and sank a 3-pointer last season against Houston Baptist in a 90-61 blowout victory for the Wildcats, the only 3 of his college career.

Follow Mark Lawson on Twitter.

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