Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Could be curtain call for as many as six UA players this weekend



Gabe York was Arizona's most productive player last week in the most difficult road swing of the Pac-12 (YouTube screen shot)

Gabe York was Arizona’s most productive player last week in the most difficult road swing of the Pac-12 (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)


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The last two games of the season at McKale Center are upon Sean Miller and the Arizona program, which means as many as six Wildcats could play their last game in Tucson this weekend.

Senior point guard T.J. McConnell and forward Matt Korcheck are leaving because they will exhaust their eligibility. The other four players who likely will enter the NBA draft include junior center Kaleb Tarczewski, junior forward Brandon Ashley, sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and freshman guard Stanley Johnson.

That leaves Gabe York, a starter-turned-sixth man, as the top returner next season as a senior.

The situation is similar to the 1998-99 season when Jason Terry bided his time and became a senior captain and player of the year in the Pac-10 and nationally after Miles Simon and Michael Dickerson exhausted their eligibility and Mike Bibby left to the NBA after his sophomore season.

Terry had senior roommate A.J. Bramlett, a productive rebounder at center, as a valuable returning starter with him. York will have established senior power forward Ryan Anderson, a starter at Boston College before his transfer to Arizona, with him. Kadeem Allen, a junior college transfer who Bill Walton went so far as to say is a future Pac-12 player of the year, is an aggressive, penetrating shooting guard.

If Arizona’s underclassmen this season leave to the pros, which is widely expected, York, Anderson and Allen will enter the 2015-16 season with capable yet unproven players in shooting guard Elliott Pitts, point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and post player Dusan Ristic as players with valuable experience.

Most of Arizona’s highly-rated recruiting class should get its fair share of minutes. The list includes:


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Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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— Combo guard Justin Simon

— Small forward Ray Smith

— Shooting guard Allonzo Trier

— Post player Chance Comanche

Still potentially on the way are either frontcourt prospects Stephen Zimmerman or Ivan Rabb, each of whom will be instant starters in Miller’s system.

The rotation could look like this:

Starters: Jackson-Cartwright at point guard, York at shooting guard, Trier or Simon as a third guard or wing at 6’5″, Anderson at power forward and either Zimmerman or Rabb at the post (if neither come to Arizona, it will be Ristic).

Top subs: Allen (who can spell either guard position), Trier or Simon (each of whom will average at least 20 minutes), Pitts (who will bide his time until he is a senior like York), Smith (who will be coming back from a knee injury that shelved him all of this season), Comanche (still developing) and Ristic (whose minutes will increase from this year as he continues to elevate his game in Miller’s system).

If either Rabb or Zimmerman sign in April that would give Miller 11 scholarship players for 2015-16, provided four of his underclassmen (Tarczewski, Ashley, Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson) leave early.

The remaining two scholarships can be awarded to walk-ons because most college basketball programs do not utilize more than 10 players in a rotation, many go as little as eight.

A redshirt is possible much like Miller did with Allen this season. A candidate for that could be Smith to allow him full rehabilitation from his knee injury under Arizona’s strength and conditioning program.

Miller has a history of making the chemistry work with an abundance of talent. This season is a prime example with York, as a junior, relinquishing his starting role to Hollis-Jefferson and now excelling when Miller needs him the most.

In the most difficult road swing in the conference, because of the altitude and talent of the opposition, York stood above the rest against Colorado and Utah last weekend. He had the top productivity rating in each game, a significant reason why Miller achieved his biggest road sweep of his six-year Arizona coaching career.

The Pac-12 does not award a Sixth Man of the Year. If it did, York and Hollis-Jefferson would share that honor, splitting that duty this season.

The Wildcats should take home the player of the year (McConnell) and freshman of the year (Johnson) for the second consecutive season. Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon won those honors, respectively, last year.

The only other time that happened was the year Terry took over in 1998-99. He was the player of the year and Michael Wright was the freshman of the year.


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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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