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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Will Arizona be ranked in the top 10?

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Arizona men’s basketball guard Gabe York (1) celebrates one of his buckets during Arizona’s 80-52 win against Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament Championship Game in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on March 14. Despite potentially losing their entire starting five, the Wildcats have a good chance to be ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls.

There’s no doubt in my mind the Arizona men’s basketball team will be a top-10 team next season.

With speculation that Arizona is about to lose its entire starting lineup to the NBA Draft and eligibility, many are wondering if the Wildcats really have a chance next year.

In fact, some were even calling for Arizona coach Sean Miller’s head after his fourth Elite Eight loss. Sure, let the haters hate. Miller already put them in their place on Twitter.

“Finally to the people that try to make us feel like our season was a failure. Go cheer for ASU! #BearDown,” Miller said on Twitter.  

The Wildcats will be back next year with a vengeance.

First, let’s take a look at the 2015 recruiting class, starting with Allonzo Trier. The 6-foot-4 guard from Findlay College Prep (Henderson, Nev.) is ranked 15th in the ESPN 100 and is considered one of the most explosive scorers coming out of high school.

Trier will be able to provide the offense that Miller hasn’t quite been able to conquer in his years at Arizona.

Ray Smith, the 6-foot-8 small forward from Las Vegas was sent an offer from 11 schools, and before tearing his ACL in 2014, ESPN Insider Paul Biancardi said he had “a freakish ability at the small forward position.”

Justin Simon and Chance Comanche, both originally from California, play point guard and center, respectively. The director of Comanche’s club team has even compared him to former UA forward Grant Jerrett.

The Wildcats will, at the very least, return sharp-shooter Gabe York, speedy point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, defensive-minded Elliott Pitts and big man Dusan Ristic, in addition to the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in all of college basketball.

Plus, Arizona fans will be given the chance to see the 2014 JUCO College Player of the Year in Kadeem Allen, who redshirted this season, and Boston College transfer forward Ryan Anderson.

All of these players combined will make for a mean combination. The Wildcats also boast the longest active home court winning streak in the nation. Although there are many significant players the Wildcats may lose, they have the opportunity to gain so much more. Of course, having Miller at the reigns will help, too.

Don’t be quick to bet against the Wildcats or Miller. It’s a mystery why people are starting to now.

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.



Many questions loom over the state of the program after Arizona’s season-ending Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin.

Right now, we don’t know a lot, but the guaranteed loss of team leader T.J. McConnell makes it hard to stomach for Arizona fans. Although no players have said they are parting ways with Arizona, there’s a lot of speculation, and it doesn’t help the team’s potential preseason ranking for the 2015-2016 season.

Stanley Johnson is projected to leave Arizona and become a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. Draft projections have him going as high as seventh overall, where he would receive a guaranteed two-year contract.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is another starter that draft projections list as a first-round pick. The sophomore defensive powerhouse had some of his best career performances during March Madness, and, like Johnson, he is built for the NBA.

If Johnson and Jefferson go, the question remains: What will Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley do? Both are projected as second-round picks if they leave, and that would open up two more scholarships for coach Sean Miller — who would have just one to work with otherwise.

Then, there are those who may stay. Parker Jackson-Cartwright seems to be the best fit to take over at point guard, but can he match McConnell’s leadership skills?

Elliot Pitts, Gabe York and Dusan Ristic may come back, but they also have to fight for spots with transfer Ryan Anderson from Boston College and redshirt junior Kadeem Allen, who will be eligible next season.

As far as recruiting goes, 2016 five-star recruit T.J. Leaf, a 6-foot-9 power forward, has verbally committed to Arizona. He’s one of 19 top high school players with offers from the UA, but nothing is set in stone until the signing period opens up on April 13.

Even with a potential influx of new faces, possible returnees and newly available players, it will be hard to replace McConnell, Jefferson and Johnson, and it will be even harder for the Wildcats to go into next season ranked in the top 10.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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