Arizona Basketball

Lyons, Wright at No. 2 were Arizona Wildcats right up there, this close, to top


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If Michael Wright stayed one more season for his senior year with the Arizona Wildcats, imagine the consequences with his career.

Mark Lyons played one only season for the Arizona Wildcats and that was not enough for the UA fan base to appreciate what he could mean to the program.

Just one season. Two players who wore No. 2, fitting because they approached the top of Arizona Wildcats basketball.

Lyons completed his only season season with the Arizona Wildcats, trying to master the point guard position after playing the off-guard spot at Xavier the previous three seasons. He led the Wildcats in scoring with 15.6 points a game, the first point guard to achieve that feat since Jason Gardner in 2002-03.

He joined an elite group of Arizona Wildcats point guards to be selected a first-team all-conference selection. Others include Gardner, Nic Wise, Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Reggie Geary, Damon Stoudamire and Steve Kerr.


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Does Lyons belong in the upper echelon of Point Guard U.? In only one season, no, but he provided the Arizona Wildcats fan base a glimpse of what he could have become if his career stretched four years. His 546 points last year has only been surpassed 30 times in Arizona basketball history.

Lyons is in France playing professionally. Wright is in his fourth season playing pro ball in Turkey, where he has established himself as one of the best players in that country. He has changed his name to Ali Karadeniz and became a Turkey national citizen.


Arizona’s No. 2 players
Source: UA media relations
Luke Recker, G/F, 1999-2000
Michael Wright, F, 2000-01
Isaiah Fox, C, 2003-06
Zane Johnson, F, 2007-09
Daniel Bejarano, G, 2010-11
Mark Lyons, G, 2012-13

His 12 years of professional basketball overseas has occurred after he did not gain a spot with the New York Knicks, who drafted him in the second round in 2001. No other attempts with an NBA team have taken place.

He was labeled a tweener, a power forward in a small forward’s body (6’8″, 230 pounds). One detriment was Wright’s offense facing the basket. He has proven to be powerful enough as a rebounder and inside defennder to keep playing at a high level in Poland, Spain, Germay, South Korea and Turkey in his pro career.

If Wright stayed for his senior season, who knows? He has not played in the NBA so maybe another year at Arizona would not have mattered. His 832 career rebounds still rank sixth on the UA charts. He could have challenged Al Fleming’s school-record 1,190 rebounds had he stayed for his senior season.

Former UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough believed Wright’s work ethic should have made up for his size as a power forward to NBA scouts.

“They’ll see his size (as a drawback),” Rosborough told the Arizona Daily Wildcat. “Nothing else. (Scouts) will find he is a kid who could step out on the floor. If he were 6-foot-10, he’d be the first kid taken. They’ll ask, ‘Can you guard Karl Malone, Rick Fox and other four men?’ He guarded (UCLA center Dan) Gadzuric and (Stanford’s Jarron and Jason) Collins.

“He needs to be a first-round kid, period.”

With one more season, yes.

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— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and


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