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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Miller has a trio of point guards in his arsenal this season

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Tyler Baker

Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) dribbles while closely defended by Chico State point guard Jalen McFerren (11) in McKale Center on Nov. 8. Allen started at point guard and finished with five points and four assists in 15 minutes.

Arizona basketball is a program unlike most, in the sense that every position is three-deep throughout the rotation. Fan favorite and Pac-12 Player of the Year runner-up T.J. McConnell was the undisputed leader of the Wildcats last season, but with him shining in the NBA this season, there’s a new sheriff—or sheriffs—in town.

Kadeem Allen, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Justin Simon make up Sean Miller’s backcourt this season.

Miller will be licking his chops all season long, despite having three players share the point guard position. He knows he’ll be able to throw different packages at teams, whether they will be big with guards like Allen and Simon or utilizing the craftiness in role player Jackson-Cartwright.

Kadeem Allen

The 2014 JUCO Player of the Year from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas was the starting point guard in the first showing of the season in the Wildcats’ exhibition against Chico State.

Miller took us back to the versatile guard combo days when he had Lamont “MoMo” Jones on the floor. Even though Allen was starting at point guard, the two-way guard from Wilmington, North Carolina, mentioned Arizona fans could see him in numerous packages.

“It’s different combinations that coach Miller put in—one day I could be at the one and another day I could be at the two,” Allen said. “Another day I could be at the three.”

Allen could be the most efficient player this season because he doesn’t have to check out of the game when Miller installs substitutions. Instead, Allen can shift over to other positions.

Having this multifaceted player could be a blessing in disguise for a squad that is missing four starters from last season. Despite redshirting last year, Allen said the extra year helped him evolve into a better leader.

“I learned how to be a great team player, be more vocal,” Allen said. “After sitting out and lifting in the weight room and [focusing on my] academics, it really helped me out a lot. The decision for me to redshirt was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Parker Jackson-Cartwright

This crafty ball handler will have the same role as last season and that’s to be a floor general when the starter isn’t in. McConnell took Jackson-Cartwright under his wing and groomed him to be the Wildcats’ point guard of the future.

It’s unfortunate for his case because he has to share minutes with two other guards, but Jackson-Cartwright will have a pivotal position with this season’s squad.

Outside of Kaleb Tarczewski, Gabe York, Dusan Ristic and Elliott Pitts, Jackson-Cartwright is the only Wildcat returning with significant playing time in Miller’s system.

Adding weight and now being able to slash to the bucket more effectively are the biggest additions Jackson-Cartwright has picked up going into this season.

“Going through the lane and not getting knocked down and being able to go through a long game and a long season will help me,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “[My teammates] definitely noticed it and coaches have, and it feels good.”

Jackson-Cartwright’s teammates, however, still remind him he’s the only player under 6-foot on the team.

“Yeah, I get it every day, like I need a diaper change, or I’m a baby,” Jackson-Carwright said.

Arizona will need his craftiness, intelligence and experience on the court this season to rise atop the conference for another year.

Justin Simon

Simon is one of those freshmen who is constantly overlooked because of another highly ranked recruit. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was overlooked because of Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson overshadowed every other Wildcat in his class.

Simon falls into the same boat because of Allonzo Trier, but that won’t stop the Temecula, California, native from getting minutes in his first season with the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-5 Simon is without a doubt the tallest point guard Miller has brought into the program. A lengthy, quick and flashy point guard is ideal for a team looking to reload for another deep run in March, as other teams will struggle to match up with a guard his size.

He may be studying from Jackson-Cartwright and Allen for a season, but Simon’s future at Arizona shines brightly.


Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.


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