Arizona Basketball

Frontcourt emphasis on filling Arizona’s last three scholarship spots

With the addition of Samford graduate transfer point guard Justin Coleman to Arizona on Friday, coach Sean Miller has three scholarships remaining to fill the Wildcats’ allotment of 13.

Coleman, who played his first two years at Alabama before transferring to Samford to play last season, fills a void at point guard for Arizona in the upcoming season. Little-used sophomore Alex Barcello was the lone returner and Class of 2018 prospect Devonaire Doutrive is a combo guard who may not be used at the point by Miller.

“Just hanging around the team and talking to coach Miller and listening to his plans for me as a point guard,” he told 247Sports.com when asked what set him over the top.

“They have a great chemistry and that’s something I want to be apart.”

Chemistry is the key word. With next season’s roster filling up, once again the question will be how Miller can mold a team with different parts — returning players, high school recruits, transfers and grad transfers — into a cohesive unit.

Arizona had only six scholarship players as part of the 2018-19 roster after the end of last season, and there was uncertainty if Miller would return following the off-the-court issues that adversely affected the coaching staff and team.

Arizona is still in contention for five-star point guard prospect Brandon Williams, a one-time commit who re-opened himself to recruitment after ESPN’s controversial story in February alleging Miller discussed on an FBI wiretap the arrangement for Deandre Ayton to be paid $100,000 to attend Arizona. Miller and Ayton have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Williams has Arizona is in his final three along with Gonzaga and Oregon. He is visiting Gonzaga this weekend.

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Although Coleman committed to Arizona, the Wildcats would still welcome Williams. Arizona could not afford the possibility of losing Coleman if it decided to wait for Williams.

Coleman is talented. He scored a career-high 24 points against Oregon while at Alabama in the 2015-16 season. He also had 18 points on four three-pointers at Creighton that season.

With Samford last season, Coleman averaged 13.5 points per game and led the Southern Conference in both assists (210) and assists per game (6.6). His 210 assists marked the second highest total in school history. He also led the team in minutes (1,040) and minutes per game (32.5).

Coleman, who is from Birmingham, Ala., will get the chance to play his former team, Alabama, next season with the Wildcats visiting Tuscaloosa.

Also in the mix for Arizona is five-star power forward Jordan Brown, who has narrowed his choices to Arizona, Nevada and California.

The Wildcats also hosted Lithuanian power forward Lukas Kisunas, a former UConn commit, last week. Kisunas is visiting Stanford this weekend.

Another scholarship offer went to Class of 2018 three-star power forward Parker Braun, who is also being recruited by Ole Miss.

It is obvious the emphasis now is bolstering the frontcourt, which as of now consists of sophomore Ira Lee and Pitt graduate transfer Ryan Luther at power forward and Duke transfer Chase Jeter at the post.

The possibility exists Arizona will not fill all three remaining scholarships and offer at least one to a walk-on.

Arizona has done the bulk of its recruiting for the Class of 2018 without one of the full-time assistant coaching spots filled. On Miller’s staff are Danny Peters, who was hired earlier this month, and Mark Phelps.

Here is Arizona’s 2018-19 roster by position:

POINT GUARDS

Alex Barcello, sophomore
Justin Coleman, senior
Devonaire Doutrive, freshman

SHOOTING GUARDS

Brandon Randolph, sophomore
Dylan Smith, junior

SMALL FORWARDS

Emmanuel Akot, sophomore
Omar Thielemans, freshman

POWER FORWARD

Ira Lee, sophomore
Ryan Luther, senior

CENTER

Chase Jeter, junior

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