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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona preparing for the worst-case scenario: What Kerr Kriisa can bring to the Wildcats next season

Madeleine Viceconte

Head coach Sean Miller signals orders to his players during the game against Washington on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in McKale Center. Arizona lost the game 67-60. 

If you take a look at the roster Arizona is set to put out next season, you might think to yourself that the Wildcats have enough guards to survive the long and grueling season. The University of Arizona was already two or three deep at both guard positions before the commitment of 6-foot-2 guard Kerr Kiisa from Estonia on Saturday, April 18. So, why did Sean Miller and the coaching staff pick up another commit at the guard position?

Well, if we dive deeper into each player among Arizona’s backcourt, all of them carry a few question marks entering the new year. After all, college basketball is a game of unpredictable outcomes and uncertainties, so preparing for a worst-case scenario is only a standard procedure. 

Georgetown transfer James Akinjo is assumed to become Arizona’s new starting point guard next season, that is, of course, if the NCAA allows him to become immediately eligible after transferring to the Wildcats back in January. Brandon Williams is recovering from multiple knee injuries that hindered his freshman season as well as ending his sophomore season last year before it even began. While Williams is expected to have made a full recovery, it is still uncertain if he will be as productive as he was when he was first recruited.   

The worst thing that could happen to Arizona is that Akinjo will not receive his eligibility waiver and Williams will have declined from what he once was, leaving the backcourt with more holes to fill during the season. But don’t be alarmed, because Miller and the Wildcats have already thought of that possibility and have hauled in another guard to add to the Wildcat’s arsenal next year.  

Kriisa is regarded as one of the top international recruits in this year’s recruiting class, according to ESPN. The 19-year-old played in the Lithuania NKL this past season where he averaged 14.8 points and six assists in 25 minutes and the skills he brings to Tucson are extremely valuable. 

Kriisa is an aggressive scorer with above average ball-handling skills. His abilities will translate to the college game very nicely as Arizona can slot him right into the role once taken by Nico Mannion, which is running the offense and commanding the pick and roll. 

Kriisa also brings some reliable shooting to the table, something that Arizona is in desperate need of right now. He shot 39% from three last season and 84% from the free-throw line. If you still aren’t sold, here are some more highlights of him.

It is now clear that Arizona’s biggest need is in its frontcourt. Christian Koloko, Ira lee and Jordan Brown are all proven to be good defenders but aren’t relatively a threat to score. The Wildcats may end up not needing their big men to contribute too much offensively with the surplus of firepower in the backcourt. But, again, if you’re preparing for the worst-case scenario, depth at every position is needed.   

Follow Jacob Mennuti on Twitter.

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