Arizona Basketball

Tarczewski faces toughest test against Scott, Poeltl this week



Kaleb Tarczewski scored 14 points with three rebounds in his only meeting with Josh Scott last year in Arizona’s 82-54 win at Boulder. Scott (pictured) did not play in Tucson because of an injury and had nine points and six rebounds when the Buffaloes hosted Arizona.

Against Utah’s Jakob Poeltl last year, Kaleb Tarczewski produced 20 points and 11 rebounds in two games. Poeltl had only 10 points and nine rebounds.

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Note: Gabe York is at 102 wins.
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Rank: Overall school ranking.
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When the top Pac-12 centers are discussed outside the conference region, the name Jakob Poeltl of Utah is mentioned the most because of his lofty NBA expectations.

Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski is not believed to be an all-conference selection over post players Poeltl or Colorado’s Josh Scott, both of whom rank in the top five in the Pac-12 in scoring and rebounding. Tarczewski faces both this week, Scott on Wednesday night in Boulder, Colo., and Poeltl on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

Tarczewski averages 9 rebounds a game, which should be ranked No. 3 in the conference behind Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson (11.0) and teammate Ryan Anderson (10.2).

Tarczewski, who has pulled down 59 rebounds in his last five games, is not listed among the Pac-12 stat leaders. The reason: He has not played in 75 percent of Arizona’s games, a qualifying mark.

The senior center missed eight games earlier this season with a foot injury and has played in only 19 of Arizona’s 27 games, 70.3 percent. Tarczewski will not be listed all season among the Pac-12 leaders because even if he plays in Arizona’s last four games, he would finish the regular season participating in only 74.2 percent of the Wildcats’ games (23 of 31).

“If he leaves here as the all-time winningest player in Arizona basketball history, after missing the number of games he’s missed this year, there’s not a (more) remarkable thing that has ever happened for an individual at Arizona,” Sean Miller said of Tarczewski, whose 107 career wins (in games that he has played) is only two shy of Matt Muehlebach’s school record.

“When you look at the four-year careers of the great players that played here, they played deep into March and they played a ton of games. To almost shatter that (after) the (eight) games taken away, I mean that says all you need to know about that guy. He is someone we respect a great deal.”

Miller, speaking last week after the ASU game, in which Tarczewski pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds, also mentioned of his 7-foot, 250-pound center, “I’m telling you watching him right now, I have a hard time believing he won’t have a long career in the NBA because he just does things most people can’t do.”

The NBA mock draft boards are sold on Poeltl as an immediate impact player at the next level. rates Poeltl (17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game) as the No. 7 prospect overall in the 2016 draft. Tarczewski is rated at No. 92 overall.

Tarczewski is the No. 26 senior prospect according to Scott, who is injury prone, is No. 39.

Facing Scott and Poeltl this week, back to back, is Tarczewski’s toughest challenge all season. He has played talented post players such as UCLA’s Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker and Hawkinson. In four games against those players, Tarczewski is averaging 9.5 points and 11 rebounds. He did not get a chance to face Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis or UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman because he was out with his foot injury at the time.

Poeltl ranks No. 21 nationally in field goal percentage (66.1) but neither he or Scott compare favorably to Tarczewski’s defensive rebounding percentages, according to Tarczewski ranks 19th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (27.2) and 128th on the offensive end (11.8).

Poeltl ranks 89th in defensive rebounding percentage (22.5) and 124th with the offensive boards (11.8). Scott 191st (20.5) and 301st (9.5), respectively, in those categories.

Hawkinson, another likely post player who will make the All-Pac-12 team instead of Tarczewski, ranks fifth nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (31.4).

Tarczewski’s effort on the glass, especially on the defensive end, limits opponents from easy second-chance points and high-percentage shots. He is a big reason why Arizona ranks third nationally with 29.56 defensive rebounds a game. Arizona is No. 1 in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (80.3).

Colorado is No. 12 (77.7 percent) and Utah is all the way down at No. 72 (74.6 percent).

With his front court cast playing well around him (Anderson, Dusan Ristic and Mark Tollefsen), if Tarczewski performs against Colorado and Utah as he has most of the season, the Wildcats should have a fighting chance to win both games this week.

If Arizona defeats the hard-charging Utes, who have won nine of their last 11 including a road sweep of the Los Angeles schools last week, Tarczewski and fellow senior Gabe York will be in select company.

A win at Utah means a 4-0 stretch for York and Tarczewski against the Utes in Salt Lake City to go with their 9-0 run at Stanford, Washington and Washington State in their careers. They would join the likes of Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton of four- or five-year Arizona players who never lost on the road against four conference opponents.

Jud Buechler, Harvey Mason and Brian David hold the record of never losing at five conference schools — ASU, California, USC, Washington and Washington State.

[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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