Arizona Week: Five Newcomers Could Earn Immediate Playing TimePosted by AMurawa on June 27th, 2012
Paired with the more-than-adequate group of returnees we profiled earlier today, the Wildcats have a stellar group of newcomers that they’re welcoming in as well. Their five-man freshman class was rated third in the nation by ESPN, and that’s not even including the commitment they got from senior transfer Mark Lyons, who will be immediately eligible for Sean Miller’s club next year after choosing the Arizona version of the Wildcats (over the Kentucky version). All told, there are five players among the six newcomers who will get a chance to make a major contribution next season. Below, we’ll take a look at all of the newcomers, by order of who is likely to make the biggest impact in 2012-13.
- Mark Lyons, Senior, Combo Guard, 6’1”, 188 lbs, Xavier University – Despite the fact that UA’s three freshmen big men all probably have brighter futures ahead of them than Lyons, the graduate transfer will have the biggest impact on the Wildcat’s 2012-13 season. Lyons spent the last two seasons in Cincinnati playing second-fiddle to point guard Tu Holloway, but he’ll get his chance to have the ball in his hands a lot more in Tucson, as he’ll take over the point guard duties from day one. He’s got the reputation of a guy who is more interested in finding his own shot than creating looks for his teammates, but in his three years with the Musketeers, he averaged assists on almost 18% of his teammates’ made field goals, a pretty impressive number for a guy who played off the ball. Nevertheless, there is some truth to the idea that Lyons likes to, and is very capable of, creating his own shots. What he’ll need to prove this season, not only for the success of this Wildcat team but for Lyons’ dreams of playing in the NBA, is that he can walk the fine line between making himself a scoring threat and setting up his new teammates with good scoring opportunities. If Lyons can pull that off, the Wildcats could be in the national championship picture; if he falls back into his 2011-12 habit of shooting nearly 28% of his team’s shots, UA could be a major underachiever.
- Kaleb Tarczewski, Freshman, Center, 7’0”, 230 lbs, St. Mark’s High School, Claremont, New Hampshire – Tarczewski wound up as ESPN’s 4th rated player in the 2012 recruiting class, highlighting Sean Miller’s best recruiting class, and he is not the type of center that comes into college as a project years away from consistent production. He’s got a strong body ready to step in and immediately pound away with veteran Pac-12 bigs, but also displays surprising athleticism in the open floor. His real strength, however, is carving out prime real estate on the block, catching the ball with his back to the basket and using his strength and agility to get to one of his go-to post moves. He’s equally adept at cleaning the glass on both ends of the floor, and his size and strength are sure turn him into a strong post defender. Tarczewski averaged 20.7 points and 10.2 rebounds as a high school senior, shooting 63% from the field and showing all the signs of a guy in the midst of serious improvement. If he can continue to home his game, he may not be long for Tucson.
- Grant Jerrett, Freshman, Power Forward, 6’10”, 220 lbs, La Verne Lutheran High School, La Verne, California – Jerrett was the first commitment that Miller scored for the 2012 class, and he’s a good one. As a senior, he was the Gatorade California Player of the Year, and as a junior led his team to the Division 3 state championship game. He’s a skilled forward who is long and strong enough to play inside, but who has the tools to step out to the perimeter or into the high post to make plays. He can knock down the three, can create a bit off the bounce for himself, and is a talented passer. Given that Tarczewski is going to eat up space inside, Jerrett is a good complement to the big man, able to set up outside, give the post player space and create when the ball gets kicked out of the post. He still needs to get stronger and tougher, but there’s plenty of talent to work with here.
- Brandon Ashley, Freshman, Power Forward, 6’8”, 230 lbs, Findlay Prep, Las Vegas, Nevada – Ashley may not have quite the size that Jerrett has, but he’s got some of the same skills. Like Jerrett, he should be a good complement to Tarczewski, capable of being an effective player away from the hoop, while still ready to cause problems on the glass or in the lane when needed. He may not have quite the range Jerrett has on his jumper, but he’s got more athleticism and a better game slashing to the hoop, and he’s got a body that looks plenty strong enough to hang with the step-up in competition he’s about to see. He’s also got the reputation of a winner after helping Findlay Prep to a ESPN National High School Invitational championship last year, scoring 31 points in an overtime win in the championship game.
- Gabe York, Freshman, Shooting Guard, 6’1”, 170 lbs, Orange Lutheran High School, Orange, CA – York comes into college clearly in the shadow of the three bigs in Arizona’s recruiting class, but just wait until he throws down an absurdly acrobatic dunk early in his college career. Don’t worry about him; he’ll get plenty of attention. York may be a bit undersized for a classic two, but his athleticism and leaping ability will go a long ways toward making up for that. And, when he gets his confidence going, he can pour in plenty of points in a hurry. As a senior he averaged 24.9 points per game, scored over 30 six times and poured in 42 in one game. He’s got a nice jumper, solid handles and a killer first step – the kind of attributes that could turn the kid into a serious scorer in the Pac-12 later in his college career.
- Matt Korcheck, Junior, Power Forward, 6’9”, 200 lbs, Cochise Community College, Douglas, AZ – A junior college transfer, Korcheck was the last signee of Miller’s 2012 recruiting class, and will likely be the last of the bunch to see action in a Wildcat uniform, as he’s expected to redshirt in 2012-13. He’s a hometown kid who grew up in Tucson as a UA fan, but he’ll have an uphill battle to earn playing time in the future, especially if guys like Tarczewski, Jerrett, Ashley and Angelo Chol stick around for any length of time.