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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshman guard to see time in place of injured Mayes

Gordon Bates

The Arizona men’s basketball team was down to just seven players in the rotation after sophomore Jordin Mayes injured his left foot midway through the second half against California on Thursday.

Head coach Sean Miller said on Tuesday he wasn’t sure when Mayes would return to the court for Arizona, although he is optimistic it will happen this season.

“It could be as soon as two weeks and it could be as far as the Pac-12 Tournament,” Miller said. “We anticipate his not playing this weekend. It’s probably improbable. He’s in a boot right now.”

Miller confirmed the guard did not break his foot, which some feared as the worst-case scenario last week, but said that the injury was caused due to the surgery Mayes had to repair his broken foot last summer.

Mayes won’t be able to practice or play until doctors determine that the screw in his foot won’t cause pain he can’t deal with. Coincidentally, the surgery Mayes went through is the same surgery forward Kevin Parrom had last week to repair his broken foot.

Miller compared Mayes’ injury and return to dealing with a sprained ankle.

“Jordin is relieved that his foot wasn’t broken,” Miller said. “He will not be at further risk, it’s just a matter of when his pain subsides.”

In the meantime, Arizona will have to continue to rely on several key players throughout the games, including freshman Nick Johnson.

“We’ve always played Nick, from the very first day of practice, as our third point guard,” Miller said. “He knows our system. It’s because of situations like this that it’s so pivotal.”

The last time Johnson was put in this situation was Dec. 7, 2011, against Florida when fellow freshman Josiah Turner did not make the trip due to a one-game suspension. Against the Gators, Johnson went just 2-of-8 from the field, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, and had five turnovers.

But Johnson said that he’s learned much more and has developed more confidence since the Florida game.

“I’ve got 10 more college games under my belt and playing in those have helped me out a little bit,” Johnson said.

The Wildcats have played 15 games since losing at Florida and although Johnson has struggled to maintain a double-figure performance, he has contributed quality minutes down the stretch for Arizona.

Miller said Johnson’s contribution as the third point guard in practice is something the team has always prepared for, but never hoped they had to use.

“It’s difficult for a freshman to learn two positions and we’ve asked him to do that from day one,” Miller said.

Until Mayes can be cleared for practice, and eventually games, Johnson’s role will be critical for the Wildcats as they close in on the second half of Pac-12 Conference season. But it’s a challenge that Johnson said he’s ready for.

“I always like to be out on the floor more and that means more time for me,” Johnson said. “People have got to step up.”

Walk-ons could see playing time

Miller said that with limited players available for this weekend’s game against Colorado and Utah, walk-ons Dondre Wise and Max Wiepking could see playing time. Wise and Wiepking could be used to give regular players a break or to help out if players get in foul trouble.

“It’s not like they’re going to play 40 minutes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we would have to bring one of them in for a brief period of time,” Miller said.

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