– Arizona Wildcats


Editor’s Note: We’re getting very close to the beginning of the season so it’s due time to begin our inaugural Pac-12 previews. We’ll go through them alphabetically this season, starting with Arizona. At the end, we will release of rankings. Let’s get to it.

by: Griffin Bennett

Last year’s squad made an Elite Eight run behind All-American Derrick Williams. He was a freak last season and I’m just glad that he’s gone. Those in Tucson wish he was returning because the Wildcats lost a lot of experience on the court and have a relatively young squad heading into this year. Let’s break them down at how they will look this year.

Key Losses:

Derrick Williams (19.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) – NBA Draft

MoMo Jones (9.7 ppg, 2.3 apg) – Transfer to Iona College

Jamelle Horne (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg) – Graduation

Best of the Rest:

This Arizona squad isn’t left completely bare. At the guard position they return key players in guards Kyle Fogg, andJordin Mayes. Fogg was a starter all of last season and will be a senior leader on and off the court. Mayes will look to have an increased role on the team this year but with a solid incoming freshmen class he may actually see his time decrease.

While they lose Horne and Williams at the forward positions, they still return Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry. They both are extremely active post players who can step out and make a jumper. They will now be expected move from role players into a staring role, much like that of Darnell Gant for the Huskies.

Sadly, returning junior Kevin Parrom suffered a gunshot wound last month and his return to the team is obviously in question. It sounds like he was extremely lucky to be alive and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

Some other key returners are C Kyryl Natyazhko, F Brendan Lavender, and C Alex Jacobson

Incoming Freshmen:

As much as this pains me to say, head coach Sean Miller has brought the Wildcat program all the way back and has/is recruiting at an elite level. Headlining Scout.com’s 4th best recruiting class is 6-3 PG Josiah Turner. The #3 overall PG in the nation is an electric athlete who is at his best when he is attacking the basket. He should be an immediate impact for the Wildcats and start at point guard from day one.

Nick Johnson is another elite recruit (#7 SG, 6-3.5) who has a high motor and is stellar on defense. He isn’t the greatest perimeter shooter but he can score from anywhere on the court.

Next up are the pair of power forwards and that Sean Miller has brought in to replace Williams and Horne. Sidiki Johnson (6-8) and Angelo Chol (6-9) are two bug guys that can really fill up the paint. Neither are elite scorers but both a defensive presences that have very high long term upside. They may not start this year but they will be a factor.

Projected Starting Lineup: 

G: Josiah Turner (Fr, 6-3)

G: Nick Johnson (Fr, 6-3.5)

G: Kyle Fogg (Sr, 6-3)

F: Solomon Hill (Jr, 6-6)

F: Jesse Perry (Sr, 6-7)


The Wildcats lost a lot from last year’s Elite Eight squad and it’s hard to believe that they can just reload and be as effective. Derrick Williams was such a huge part of their team and you have to assume that they take some sort of step back this year. How big of a step is the real question.

From a talent standpoint, they are easily in the Pac-12 title picture. Experience will be their number one weakness. Their title hopes will probably rest in the hands of their young freshmen guards, Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson. How quickly can they pick up the speed of the college game?

I, personally, am a huge Solomon Hill fan and I think he is one of the most underrated players in the league. Hill and Perry will need to be very aggressive on the boards in order to make up for their lack of size in the post and the loss of Williams.

They are probably ranked a little too high in the preseason polls but they certainly are a team with high title hopes. One thing is for certain; the bull’s eye is directly on their backs.