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. Read the rest of this entry »