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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Men’s hoops guide: Staff picks

MVP: Solomon Hill

Hill proved to be Arizona’s best player last season, finishing second in points and first in assists and rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field. With more talent and depth on this year’s roster, the Wildcats don’t necessarily need him to do anything more if they want to be good. If this team wants to be great, however, Hill will need to raise his game to the next level and become the star.

X-Factor: Kaleb Tarczewski

Arizona has a frontcourt loaded with a ton of young talent, but no one has the chance to make as big of an impact as center Kaleb Tarczewski. True 7-footers are a rare commodity in college basketball and the young freshman has proven he’s more than just a tree out there, showing soft hands and a decent touch in the preseason.

Finish: Second in Pac-12, Round of 32

The Wildcats have Sweet 16 talent, but with so many freshmen in crucial roles, the team will struggle with consistency at times. Arizona’s soft non-conference schedule should leave it fairly unscathed, other than a match-up with Florida. The Wildcats will then roll through Pac-12 play as well because of their 10-deep roster, but UCLA should barely edge them out for the crown. The Wildcats will still earn a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the youth and lack of a No. 1 option will lead to an early exit.

– Kyle Johnson

MVP: Solomon Hill

A lack of size on last year’s roster forced the 6-foot-7 Hill to play as an undersized power forward. Even so, he was second on the UA in points (12.9 per game) and first in both rebounds (7.7) and assists (2.6). Now, with Arizona’s influx of frontcourt talent, Hill will move back to his more natural small forward position and his all-around game, especially his ability to get to the basket, will be invaluable for the Wildcats.

X-Factor: Mark Lyons

Lyons (see p. 4 and 5) transferred to the UA from Xavier in hopes of ending the Wildcats’ recent point guard woes. The Wildcats faltered because of Josiah Turner’s ineptitude last season, both on and off the court, and if Arizona is going to succeed this season it will be because of, or in spite of, Lyons. His scoring ability is unquestionable — he scored 15.1 points per game last year — and his shoot-first mentality is similar to that of Momo Jones’ two years ago in the UA’s Elite Eight run.

Finish: First in Pac-12, Sweet 16

There is a new aura and excitement around this team. Arizona has the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, Lyons is a stud and Hill is poised for a break out. This is easily the most talented Arizona squad in quite a while, and the sky is the limit. I’m hesitant to project anything more than a Sweet 16 berth because of so many new pieces, but at the very least this team will be fun to watch.

– Zack Rosenblatt

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