|TRANSFERS WHO HAVE SIGNED WITH
SEAN MILLER AT ARIZONA
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TRANSFERS WHO SIGNED WITH ARIZONA IN LUTE OLSON’S FIRST FOUR YEARS
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*Turner played professionally in Hungary and Canada instead of transferring to SMU
Major college basketball is a big business and Arizona is one of the most valued programs in the country.
Sean Miller is scheduled to earn $2.6 million in total compensation by the 2016-17 season, including a base salary of $1.5 million.
Victories, championships, berths into the NCAA tournament are a result of making the right decisions to get the best return on an investment. Arizona has invested its trust in Miller to continue administering the significant money-making operation Lute Olson created.
Miller and his staff must invest their valuable time into coaching the right players they believe give them the best chance to win and continue to fill seats in McKale.
That means difficult personnel decisions must be made. Players will be advised to find better playing opportunities elsewhere because they may not have a spot in the rotation. That’s nothing new. Olson had five transfers in his first four seasons at Arizona, which equals Miller’s total (see graphic with this blog) with the announcement Wednesday that Angelo Chol has played his last game as a Wildcat.
Addition-by-subtraction moves like this will be made as long as a basketball bounces.
One-year wonders like incoming freshman forward Aaron Gordon of San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty are college basketball’s equivalent of professional rent-a-players — the signing of a free agent late in the season to win in the playoffs.
Miller is not at fault for losing Chol to another program and Grant Jerrett to the NBA draft (or Jerrett’s dream of being drafted). This is a business. “Just win baby” has been replaced by “Just win now baby”. John Calipari has Kentucky believing in this philosophy.
Stockpiling too many players through the first 10 spots in the rotation is not the way Calipari operates at Kentucky. He generates a solid top five or six players and the remaining guys fall in line.
Enabling players like Gordon and fellow McDonald’s All-American forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to play quality minutes without resistance is essential for Miller. The two players affected the most by the addition of Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson were Jerrett and Chol.
Miller did not beg for them to stay, nor should he. He has a multi-million dollar operation to run.
He played mostly eight players this season and he will likely use nine in 2013-14. The eight-man rotation of Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Nick Johnson, Mark Lyons, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Jerrett and Jordin Mayes will be replaced by the nine-man rotation of Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson, Johnson, Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell, Tarczewski, Ashley, Mayes, Gabe York and JC transfer Matt Korcheck.
Olson and Miller each lost five players to other programs in their first four seasons. Miller has also lost Kyryl Natyazhko and Jerrett because of their pro aspirations. Some left because of playing time, while others left because they were no longer welcome in the program (Rolf Jacobs with Olson and Sidiki Johnson and Josiah Turner with Miller).
Sidiki Johnson, Turner and Chol were all part of a heralded Class of 2011 group for Miller. Nick Johnson, who has the most potential beyond college basketball, is the lone member of this class that remains with the Wildcats.
In Olson’s fifth season (1987-88), the Wildcats earned their first trip to the Final Four. In Miller’s fifth year next season, with the addition of Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson, he is expected to make his first trip to the Final Four as a head coach.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.