Now come the anxious moments away from the basketball court for Arizona Wildcats fans.
Some on social media have expressed their desire for freshman Lauri Markkanen to return for another season.
As a projected lottery pick — eighth overall by DraftExpress.com — his return is the longest of long shots.
What about Allonzo Trier?
The good news, at least for fans: Trier is not projected to be selected in the 2017 NBA draft by DraftExpress.com. He is forecast to go No. 36 overall — a second-round choice — in the 2018 draft.
The bad news: Trier is already 21 and may feel it is time to move on to play professionally in some capacity. He came on strong after his suspension for the first 19 games because of the accidental use of a banned substance.
He was not receptive to the criticism of fans following the upset loss to No. 11 seed Xavier in the Sweet 16:
First they love you then they hate you. It's all pure deception.
How much this plays in his decision-making process, who knows? Probably not much because cooler heads prevail.
Will Kobi Simmons stay, go pro or transfer after disappearing starting in February?
Chances are he’ll turn pro, especially with his upside as a 6’5″ combo guard. His confidence was his major downfall after playing less minutes, but his ability is still there. DraftExpress.com has him the No. 51 pick overall in the second round. He may opt for the money and chance to concentrate on his game in the D-League next season.
Look for him to stay at least one more season, especially with him not on NBA mock draft boards.
His personality is such that he will try to get the most out of his college experience before making that next big step. Not that this is a deciding factor for him but he will be the fan favorite in Tucson next year in the same mold as Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Luke Walton, Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell — class acts who fans will love to listen to as much as they want to see play.
Including Alkins, scholarship players who will likely return include Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Talbott Denny (formerly of Salpointe who is a graduate transfer from Lipscomb), Chance Comanche and Keanu Pinder. Dylan Smith will be a sophomore guard eligible to play after sitting out this season following his transfer from North Carolina-Asheville.
In a scenario without Trier and Simmons, Arizona has seven scholarship players returning. Teams are allotted 13 scholarship spots.
Four recruits are signed with an uncommitted prospect — five-star wing prospect Brian Bowen — waiting most likely for Trier to make a decision. Another player, perhaps a graduate transfer, can join the program with the other scholarship.
Here’s how Arizona’s roster would look without Trier and Simmons and if Arizona’s incoming class fulfills academic requirements and enrolls in school:
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, senior
Alex Barcello, freshman
Rawle Alkins, sophomore
Dylan Smith, sophomore
Talbott Denny, senior
Brandon Randolph, freshman
Keanu Pinder, senior
Chance Comanche, junior
Ira Lee, freshman
Dusan Ristic, senior
DeAndre Ayton, freshman
Alkins, Smith and Randolph are projected more as shooting guards, although Alkins has shown the ability to play the wing and attack the basket. Lee is also versatile enough to handle the small forward position. Sean Miller loves to play guys who are versatile not only on offense but on defense, guarding multiple positions.
If Trier and Simmons do not return, that opens the door for Bowen, of La Port (Ind.) La Lumiere High School, to play significant minutes at the wing position if he signs with Arizona.
Bowen is reportedly down to Arizona and Creighton. Scout.com national recruiting analyst Josh Gershon told me earlier this month that Bowen is waiting for personnel decisions of both schools before making a decision.
If Simmons and Trier return, that puts Arizona at the scholarship limit.
Some important dates to keep in mind early in the offseason:
April 12-May 17 — Spring signing period
The dates in which a high school senior, namely Bowen, can sign a national letter of intent.
April 23 (11:59 p.m.) — NBA early-entry candidate application deadline
This is when a player announces his non-binding intention to enter the NBA draft.
April 25 — NBA teams can start attending workouts with early-entry prospects
Teams can observe the prospect first-hand, not having to wait for the scouting combine like in the past.
April 28 — Draft combine invitations and questionnaires sent to prospects
If a player does not get an invite, chances are he will return to school.
May 9-14 — NBA draft combine (Chicago)
This is the last-chance effort for the prospect to impress scouts that he is worthy enough to be drafted.
May 24 (11:59 p.m.)– NCAA post-combine withdrawal deadline
The last day for prospects to either change their mind and withdraw from the draft or go forward with their NBA aspirations.
June 22 — The NBA Draft in New York
Markkanen’s name will be called if he goes pro, as is expected. Will somebody else get selected?
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com 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 CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, 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.