Arizona Week: Running Down the ReturneesPosted by AMurawa on June 27th, 2012
The Wildcats return five players who earned 10 or more minutes last season and it is a good bet that each of those players will have at least as big a role in 2012-13, with a couple different players perhaps poised for breakout seasons. Today we’ll take a look at each of them, by order of last year’s scoring average, and try to peer into the near future for each of these guys.
- Solomon Hill, Senior, Small Forward (13.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.6 APG) – In 2011-12, Hill led the Wildcats in rebounding and assists, was second in scoring, posted the highest field goal percentage and defensive rebound percentage, used the most possessions of anyone on the team, knocked down 37 three-pointers at a 39% clip, and did all of that in a highly efficient manner. In other words, the dude’s versatile. And, in a year where Arizona will be breaking in a one-season tire-patch of a point guard in Mark Lyons, a guy who has been known to fall in love with his own shot, Hill’s ability to play the point-forward position could be vital. Further, with a bunch of talented freshman bigs getting ready to make an impact in Tucson, Hill could be pushed out of the paint more, setting up camp more on the perimeter and at the elbows. If he can continue to improve his jumper as he has done, he could prove to be a matchup nightmare, capable of stepping out to hit the three, knocking down the pull-up off a couple dribbles, using a power move to get to the hoop, or feeding the bigs out of the high post. Really, while Hill definitely shone in his junior year, he could be primed to step it up even another notch in his final collegiate campaign. Throw in his ability as a vocal leader on a team with plenty of youngsters (he could, in particular, be a mentor for freshman big Grant Jerrett, who has some of the same skills that Hill possesses) and Hill could be one of the most important players to his team in the entire country.
- Nick Johnson, Sophomore, Shooting Guard (9.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG. 2.4 APG) – Johnson’s freshman season got off to a flashy start, with seven double-figure scoring efforts prior to New Year’s Day, copious amounts of highlight-reel dunks, solid defense, and a confident jumper. Unfortunately, once conference play rolled around, he struggled with his jumper (he shot 41.7% from three prior to January 1 and 28% afterward) and his confidence waned. Opponents began playing off him and daring him to shoot, and his entire game at both ends of the floor was negatively impacted by his shooting woes. Still, all things considered, it is hard to be anything but bullish about Johnson’s future. As athletic as any returning guard in the conference, Johnson’s got a strong first step, the ability to throw down a dunk in an opposing big man’s face, and a willingness to make the unselfish play when it presents itself. Add on the ability to be a lockdown defender and, so long as Johnson tightens up his jumper, he could be among the conference’s best players next year.
- Kevin Parrom, Senior, Wing (5.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.8 APG) – Parrom’s 2011-12 season was just about as bad of a season as a college kid can have – and through no fault of his own. Even before the season began, Parrom was suffering through a ridiculously tough summer, with his grandmother dying and his mother struggling in a battle with cancer. Parrom returned home to Brooklyn in September just before school started to visit his mom, and while he was there he was shot in the right leg and left hand. A month later, his mother lost her battle with cancer. If that had been the end of it, that would already have been as hard of a year as anybody could be expected to go through, but after fighting through his gunshot wounds and earning his way back on the court, he broke his foot which put an end to his year. All signs point to Parrom now at full strength to begin his senior season (although UA is petitioning the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility) and ready to go out in style. He is a big wing capable of knocking down the three, playing excellent defense, and contributing all-around offensive efficiency. And, if there’s any truth to the idea that good vibes can have an impact, Parrom may be primed for a breakout year of his own.
- Jordin Mayes, Junior, Combo Guard (4.9 PPG, 1.1 APG) – Despite earning some solid minutes throughout his freshman season, Mayes really burst onto the national scene with his 16 points (on 4-4 shooting from deep) in 19 minutes against Texas in the Wildcats’ NCAA Round of 32 win on their way to the Elite Eight. That performance, coupled with Momo Jones’ decision to transfer out of the program left some thinking that Mayes might have a future as the ‘Cats point guard. Early in his sophomore season, he had plenty of chances to lay claim to that role as Josiah Turner struggled to adapt to college. But despite a couple of strong performances putting the ball in the hoop early, it became apparent that Mayes, though a nice player, was not going to be Arizona’s primary point guard. His minutes and stats tailed off as the season progressed, and a midseason stress fracture in his right foot did nothing to help matters, as he scored just 37 total points after January 1. Still, Mayes is a capable backup and should continue to see his share of minutes in relief in the backcourt.
- Angelo Chol, Sophomore, Power Forward (2.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG) – Chol came into college with the reputation of a great athlete who could have an impact on the game on the defensive end or on the glass, but who was too raw to be much of a threat offensively. And, in his first season, that proved to be a spot-on assessment. Chol, who set a national single-season record for blocked shots by a high-schooler, continued to send back shots at a good rate (he blocked 7% of opponents’ two-point field goals when he was in the game), and was solid on the glass. But, in order for him to make the most of his prodigious talents, he needs to spend time in the weight room getting stronger and working on a couple of low-post moves. He’s got a decent head start on a mid-range jumper (he shot 67.9% from the free throw line last year), so he could begin knocking down some 15-footers in the halfcourt game, but with Jerrett, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley pressing him for playing time, Chol may need to show a significantly improved offensive game to see his minutes jump up any from the 12 minutes per night he earned last season.