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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New season means crucial role for Jackson-Cartwright

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Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

With the departure of point guard T.J. McConnell to the NBA, whoever steps up to run the Wildcats’ offense is going to have some massive shoes to fill and high expectations to reach.

Throw in a backcourt that includes returners Gabe York, Kadeem Allen and Elliott Pitts along with freshmen Allonzo Trier and Justin Simon, and Arizona will have a talented—albeit crowded—backcourt. Head coach Sean Miller will have shifty sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright returning to help mentor and potentially start for a new-look team.

The sophomore from Los Angeles, Calif. had a modest yet respectable freshman season as he averaged 2.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 9.6 minutes per game while running the second-team offense.

With a year of experience under Miller and an influx of new talent, expect Jackson-Cartwright to be more aggressive on offense whether it’s scoring or passing.

With the four leading scorers from last year’s team gone, it’s essential for other players to step up and it is crucial for the point guard to put them in optimal positions.

Whether it was dishing it to York and Pitts for open looks, feeding Kaleb Tarczewski and Ryan Anderson in the post, or setting up Trier, Jackson-Cartwright proved last year he was a talented passer. McConnell has already given Jackson-Cartwright a huge opportunity by leaving for the NBA.

Leaving the backcourt to Jackson-Cartwright at Arizona is like handing over the keys to a Ferrari. While that statement is debatable, Jackson-Cartwright’s remaining tenure at Arizona could have an interesting outcome.

As great as McConnell was, the Wildcats offense would become frustratingly stagnant at times and as soon as Jackson-Cartwright came in, the pace accelerated and the offense would go on runs to energize the time. This isn’t to say Jackson-Cartwright was better than McConnell, more he was the yin to McConnell’s yang.

McConnell was the steady facilitator who fed his teammates and only shot when necessary, while Jackson-Cartwright was the blur who weaved his way through defenses and stretched the defense with his 39 percent 3-point shooting, or took great care of the ball with his 2.61 assist to turnover ratio. His high assist-to-turnover ratio is evidence of his already high basketball IQ and willingness to play within the system and not try to freelance or make unnecessary passes.

Jackson-Cartwright will never have the size McConnell possessed and might never become the lockdown defender McConnell was, but he has already shown he can run a lethal fast break offense and hit shots from the outside.

While there is still plenty of time before the season tips off and any of a number of players could emerge as the team’s starting point guard, it is great to know the Wildcats still have Jackson-Cartwright as their spark plug.

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