2015-16 Countdown

Arizona Wildcats hoops countdown: We’re at 34 days and counting to tipoff


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Ray Smith

Ray Smith

No Arizona players are listed as part of college basketball’s top 20 wing players in the nation by Sports Illustrated in a recent ranking.

No mention of freshman Ray Smith, the Wildcats’ lone prototypical wing on this year’s team. Sean Miller raved about Smith being potentially the best recruit in the Class of 2015 even after the talented player from Las Vegas went down with a knee injury before his senior season in high school.

When is the last time an Arizona small forward was not considered one of the top 20 players at that position?

In the six Miller years to date, Arizona has featured Solomon Hill, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, all in the NBA and among the best wings in college when they played.

Johnson won the inaugural Julius Erving Award last year given to the nation’s top small forward.

Before Miller arrived, Lute Olson employed many small forwards who went on to wear an NBA uniform — Chase Budinger (2005-09), Marcus Williams (2005-07), Hassan Adams (2003-06), Andre Iguodala (2002-04), Luke Walton (1999-2003), Richard Jefferson (1998-2001), Michael Dickerson (1994-98), Chris Mills (1990-93), Jud Buechler (1986-90) and Sean Elliott (1985-89).

Eddie Smith, Olson’s first small forward from 1983-85, was instrumental in helping the program get on its feet.

People like to make the statement that Arizona is Point Guard U. It really is Small Forward U.

One of the many intriguing questions of Arizona’s season: Can Smith continue the run of top-flight wings to make an impact on the program?

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