Arizona Basketball

Analyzing Arizona Wildcats and NBA draft with Ashley turning pro early



Brandon Ashley is hoping his ability to extend defenses to the perimeter will parlay into NBA success (YouTube  video screen shot)

Brandon Ashley is hoping his ability to extend defenses to the perimeter will parlay into NBA success (YouTube video screen shot)

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*-Recruited by Lute Olson but ended UA careers with interim coach. Italicized players NBA draft early entrants. Bold players first-round picks. R/P-Round/Pick
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Arizona junior forward Brandon Ashley confirmed today earlier reports that he will forego his senior season to enter the NBA draft, which means as many as three Wildcats can be drafted this year.

Only three times has Arizona produced at least three picks in the first two rounds (the current NBA draft standard) in one year, with four being the most in 2001 (Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright and Loren Woods).

Brandon Ashley

Brandon Ashley

Joseph Blair, Ben Davis and Reggie Geary were taken in the first two rounds in 1996. Two years later, Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon were taken in the first two rounds.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson announced yesterday he has hired an agent and intends to enter the NBA draft. The next player who will likely turn pro is freshman wing player Stanley Johnson, who is widely regarded as a lottery pick.

Kaleb Tarczewski, a junior post player who is not listed in most mock drafts, is also weighing his options.

Sean Miller coached five players taken in the first two rounds in his first five seasons (2009-10 to last season) at Arizona. That is the most for a coach at the start of his tenure in Tucson.

Fred Snowden produced four first- and second-round draft picks in his first five seasons (1972-73 to 1976-77). Lute Olson only had two in his five-year start from 1983-84 to 1987-88: Steve Kerr and Tom Tolbert (both second-round picks) in 1988.

If Ashley joins Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson (both projected first-round picks) in the first two rounds this year, that would give Miller eight such picks in his first six years.

What is the most first- and second-round picks for Arizona in a six-year span?

The most is 12 such picks chosen from 1996 through 2001. Four of those picks were first-rounders: Bibby, Dickerson, Jason Terry and Richard Jefferson. Olson reached two national championship games in that span.

As much as Miller has made his mark producing NBA talent at the start of his Arizona career, he has work ahead to at least match the volume Olson produced continuously.

In four different six-year periods (including 1996 through 2001), Olson produced at least 10 first- and second-rounders: 1993 through 1998, 1994 through 1999 and 1998 through 2003.


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Miller appears to be on his way to that kind of repetitive production. Potential NBA draft picks next year are Tarczewski (if he stays), senior forward Ryan Anderson and freshmen Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith depending on the magnitude of their impact.

Senior guard Gabe York can be to Arizona what Oregon guard Joe Young was to the Ducks this season and make believers out of some NBA scouts.

The possibility also exists that NBA prospect Ivan Rabb decides to help shore up Arizona’s frontcourt.

If Rabb chooses Cal, Miller can attract senior immediate-eligible transfers Mark Tollefson (San Francisco) or Tyler Harris (Providence). Tollefson and Harris are not listed on mock draft boards for 2016 but they are talented nonetheless.

Olson built a legacy of producing 32 NBA draft picks in the first two rounds, but that’s only 38.1 percent of the 84 players who lettered under him at Arizona.


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[/ezcol_1half_end] 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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