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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Should J.P. Prince transfer for 2006-07?

    Arizonas J.P. Prince has the ball knocked away by OSUs Sasa Cuic (11) during the second half of Arizonas game against Oregon State, Thursday Jan. 12, 2005 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State upset Arizona 75-65. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona’s J.P. Prince has the ball knocked away by OSU’s Sasa Cuic (11) during the second half of Arizona’s game against Oregon State, Thursday Jan. 12, 2005 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State upset Arizona 75-65. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Why would the Prince leave the three kings?

    It might seem ludicrous that a point guard averaging just 2.2 points per game and 1.9 rebounds could be one of the most important returning players next year, but in this case, it might not be so crazy.

    Freshman guard J.P. Prince has been in the midst of transfer talks after the Memphis, Tenn., native struggled for playing time this season and will be backup point guard again next year, pending junior Mustafa Shakur’s decision about turning pro.

    Shakur, who has yet to live up to the out-of-this-atmosphere potential he brought to Tucson, had what was arguably his best stretch of games ever during the NCAA Tournament, averaging 19 points per game.

    With games against No. 9 seed Wisconsin and No. 1-seeded Villanova that had Shakur shooting 54.2 percent from the field and a Salim Stoudamire-like 77.8 percent from beyond the arc, his draft potential went from nonexistent to nearly out of the Wachovia Center’s roof.

    So what does all this have to do with Prince?

    “”If anyone did that (leave for the draft) I would think the first one would be Mustafa,”” said Arizona head coach Lute Olson.

    If ‘Staf indeed decides to go pro, Prince is next in line at Point Guard U.

    Sure his freshman year wasn’t in the same galaxy as forward Marcus Williams’, but he showed at times why he was just as hyped by the coaches when he first came in, as he was the No. 4 point guard in the freshman class, according to the recruiting Web site Scout.com.

    His 10-assists-to-one-turnover game against NAU on Dec. 8 might have shown exactly what Prince is here to do – stay above smaller defenders and get the ball to slashing teammates while making it difficult for anyone to deflect the 6-foot-6 point guard’s passes.

    Even if Shakur stays, which is likely the case, departing senior guards Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers leave holes in a lineup that relied on the two to handle the ball when Shakur was out of the game.

    With Williams being more of a quick forward and sophomore Daniel Dillon playing the role of combo-guard, the lineup will have Prince splitting time between Shakur and incoming freshman Nic Wise, who is nearly 8 inches shorter than Prince and will be bringing similar inexperience to a position that needs to be experienced.

    If Prince decided to leave Arizona, there would be a hole in the guard position that is banking on redshirting sophomore guard Jawann McClellan coming back healthy and incoming freshman forward Chase Budinger living up to hype in Tucson that might make Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James a little queasy.

    If Prince can improve a jump shot that was flat for most of the season and work hard during the offseason on his ability to go right with his dribble, it might just take some beefing up and some long defensive sessions to make Prince as good as expected.

    Why give up on a guy who hardly had time to show himself? If this was the case in Tucson, Shakur and junior forward Ivan Radenovic might have never had the opportunity to turn out to be the players they were toward the end of this season.

    Remember – wine only gets better with time.

    -Shane Bacon

    Time spent on bench may be better used elsewhere

    Freshman guard J.P. Prince’s expression riding the pine in the five games he missed due to DNP-CD (did not play-coach’s decision) looked something similar to Eva Longoria watching a San Antonio Spurs game: Confused.

    The most talked-about recruit in last year’s recruiting class played 12.4 minutes per game, and Prince was likely asking himself, “”Why am I here?””

    When he wasn’t asking himself that question, he was talking smack about a city so far away from home, he might as well be sitting on the bench in Australia.

    “”You’ve got a different lifestyle out here,”” he told the Memphis, Tenn., Commercial Appeal in January after a game in which he actually played 13 minutes. “”There are a lot of older people, and if the college students aren’t here, it’s quiet. There’s no downtown, no Beale Street.

    “”We get home from the game and there’s nothing to do. You just go to sleep.””

    Nothing to do and not playing basketball is a bad mixture for a kid who has NBA aspirations.

    With junior point guard Mustafa Shakur staying for his senior year – unless he has an inkling to go play basketball in Siberia or China next season – and freshman point guard Nic Wise, a Jason Gardner clone, coming in, Prince’s playing time isn’t likely to increase any time soon.

    Combine that with Marcus Williams’ ability to handle the point guard position, recruiting Web site Scout.com’s 2007 overall No. 7 recruit Jerryd Bayless, who is verbally committed to Arizona and can play point, and sophomore guard Daniel Dillon’s improved ball handling: The right answer for Prince is to find himself a new place to play.

    Prince’s weaknesses are glaring. It’s possible he’s afraid of his right hand all together, refusing to dribble in that direction as if the Great Wall is in his way.

    It’s also possible he thinks his jump shot has a chance to hit the McKale Center roof because his trajectory is similar to one of Ted Williams’ line drive base hits to center field.

    “”His defense needs to improve … he needs to really work harder at the little things,”” said Arizona head coach Lute Olson at the end of the season.

    For Prince, whose arms are longer than “”Stretch Armstrong,”” and whose cousin and look-alike Tayshaun is one of the best defenders in the NBA as a small forward for the Detroit Pistons, defense and the “”little things”” should not be the problem.

    Similar to New Jersey Nets’ Vince Carter when he played for the Toronto Raptors, it’s difficult to give it all you’ve got in a place where you are unhappy.

    Now take Tennessee, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year, and a team in Prince’s home state. Add to that no recruiting commits in 2007 or 2008 as of yet, no point guard recruits in 2006, and their best guard being No. 65 overall prospect Marques Johnson, and you have the perfect fit for Prince.

    C.J. Watson, Tennessee’s co-leader in assists and the Volunteers’ primary ball handler this year, is a senior, and sophomore guard Chris Lofton, the team’s leading scorer, will be a senior by the time Prince is eligible to play.

    Prince can be “”the man”” and still have a good supporting cast around him, rather than hope and pray to get the opportunity at Arizona.

    Unlike wine, Prince will not get better by sitting on the shelf. More like warm vodka that needs to be put back in the freezer, Prince needs a change of scenery to reach his full potential.

    -Roman Veytsman

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