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After a workout for the Suns on Monday, Arizona guard Kobi Simmons kept looking forward Monday \u2013 to his professional life and to playing point guard.

\u201cI was relying on another player and now I\u2019m taking the ball down the court and the team is relying on me,\u201d Simmons told reporters after the workout, according to audio provided by the Suns. \u201cSo it\u2019s being a vocal leader and showing what I can do on the pick and roll, and the intensity I show on the court.\u201d

Simmons said he received \u201cgreat feedback\u201d after playing the point at the NBA Combine, and has spent the predraft process showcasing himself there. He\u2019s projected as the No. 58 pick according to Draft Express, though when asked if he ever wonders \u201cwhat if?\u201d (he isn\u2019t drafted), Simmons didn\u2019t go there.

\u201cNah, I don\u2019t even think about it,\u201d Simmons said. \u201cI\u2019m locked and loaded. Right now, I\u2019ve just gotta focus on me grinding it, raising my stock every day and looking forward to my next goal.\u201d

Simmons said he talked with former teammate Rawle Alkins about Alkins\u2019 decision, and that Alkins made a great decision for him to return to Arizona. Simmons said he was \u201cleaning toward going back a little bit\u201d even though he signed with an agent in April and left irrevocably.

\u201cIt was really tough,\u201d Simmons said. \u201cI loved my time at Arizona and you gotta think about you\u2019re not going back so it was very tough.\u201d

Later, Simmons said of his decision, \u201cI felt I was ready. I felt like now is the time.\u201d

The Suns have picks at No. 4, 32 and 54. Among others they invited to Monday's workout: Villanova's Josh Hart, Utah's Kyle Kuzma and Baylor's Johnathan Motley.

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With the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline having passed, it's not really \"way too early\" to start posting preseason Top 25s any longer.

So ESPN has put Arizona at No. 1, joining a number of other websites and publications that already had them there (with many presuming Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins would return) during the Final Four.

If nothing else, the Wildcats are in position to gain the sort of hype that surrounded Oregon last season.

ESPN had UA rated just 11 in early April but jumped the Wildcats after Trier and Alkins opted to come back and after five-star wing Emmanuel Akot opted to reclassify and play next season.

ESPN's Myron Medcalf wrote: \"(Sean) Miller is still chasing his first trip to the Final Four, but his roster for next season presents a challenge for any opponent in the country, which means his season might end with a spot in San Antonio in 2018.


The Pac-12 mostly survived unexpected early draft departures (unlike a year ago at USC). Here's the full list of who left and who stayed among early entries in the draft pool:

ARIZONA

F Lauri Markkanen, IN

G Kobi Simmons, IN

G Rawle Alkins, WITHDRAW

C Chance Comanche, IN

CAL

F Ivan Rabb, IN

COLORADO

F George King, WITHDRAW

OREGON

F Dillon Brooks, IN

C Jordan Bell, IN

G Tyler Dorsey, IN

OREGON STATE

G Stephen Thompson, Jr., WITHDRAW

F Drew Eubanks, WITHDRAW

UCLA

F Ike Anigbogu, IN

G Lonzo Ball, IN

F T.J. Leaf, IN

C Thomas Welsh, WITHDRAW

G Aaron Holiday, WITHDRAW

USC

G Elijah Stewart, WITHDRAW (never formally applied for the draft)

F Bennie Boatwright, WITHDRAW

G Shaqquan Aaron, WITHDRAW

UTAH

F Kyle Kuzma, IN

F David Collette, WITHDRAW

WASHINGTON

G Markelle Fultz, freshman IN

"}, {"id":"6b1658d6-00ae-591c-b7c9-78e4c8bfe552","type":"article","starttime":"1495677600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-05-24T19:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1495863603","priority":45,"sections":[{"basketball":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Eventful offseason has Arizona Wildcats poised for big 2017-18 season","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/article_6b1658d6-00ae-591c-b7c9-78e4c8bfe552.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/eventful-offseason-has-arizona-wildcats-poised-for-big--/article_6b1658d6-00ae-591c-b7c9-78e4c8bfe552.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/eventful-offseason-has-arizona-wildcats-poised-for-big--/article_6b1658d6-00ae-591c-b7c9-78e4c8bfe552.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":3,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Bruce Pascoe\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Roster, coaching staff shuffle leaves UA generally in a better place.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#top5sports","#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"76896","label":"basketball"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9","description":"Allonzo Trier\u2019s decision to return to the UA means he could be the preseason favorite for Pac-12 and national player of the year, while the Wildcats will return at least four key players.","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star/","hireswidth":1722,"hiresheight":1202,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d0/cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9/58d70bd39e84f.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1089","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d0/cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9/58d70bd39d6bb.image.jpg?resize=1089%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"70","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d0/cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9/58d70bd39d6bb.image.jpg?resize=100%2C70"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"209","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d0/cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9/58d70bd39d6bb.image.jpg?resize=300%2C209"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"715","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/d0/cd03ee7f-7358-5463-a2b8-8cea45deb3a9/58d70bd39d6bb.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C715"}}},{"id":"c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63","description":"Dusan Ristic, scoring against Oregon, says he wants to \u201creturn to finish my education and complete my goals.\u201d","byline":"Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star/","hireswidth":1138,"hiresheight":1821,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/3b/c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63/58f1677578d89.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"475","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/3b/c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63/58f1677577079.image.jpg?resize=475%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"160","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/3b/c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63/58f1677577079.image.jpg?resize=100%2C160"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"480","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/3b/c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63/58f1677577079.image.jpg?resize=300%2C480"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1639","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/3b/c3b6ee51-8c24-58b6-8a93-667c65ca9a63/58f1677577079.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1639"}}},{"id":"6fe87230-6b13-5c9f-a77e-1d17b29b12bf","description":"Lorenzo Romar answers questions on new position during press conference Thursday, April 20. 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Officially, Arizona\u2019s basketball season ended nine weeks ago with a loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament.

But it never did feel that way to coach Sean Miller and his staff. It\u2019s just that the drama shifted off the court and largely behind the scenes until this week, when Rawle Alkins opted to return and recruit Emmanuel Akot decided to join the Wildcats a year early.

March Madness? How about May Madness, with a little April Anxiety in between?

\u201cToday represented the end for us,\u201d Miller said on Monday, when discussing his postseason activity. \u201cBut if you would have asked me two weeks ago how it would have ended I could have given you three or four versions of it. We didn\u2019t know. We just tried to work to the end to do the best we could.\u201d

Pitt transfer Cam Johnson and high school wing Brian Bowen were two of those possible final answers, but the UA\u2019s door closed without them on Monday when the Wildcats hit the 13-player scholarship maximum.

Here\u2019s how it all played out from what was a 12-man roster at the end of last season:

And all that doesn\u2019t count the swap of associate head coaches, with former Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar replacing Joe Pasternack, who left to become UC Santa Barbara\u2019s head coach. Nor does it count the addition of forward Shareef O\u2019Neal \u2014 Shaq\u2019s son \u2014 to the class of 2018.

What was left, as it turned out, was a blend of just about every skill, size and experience level possible, making up what could be the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.

\u201cI think we have a blend of a number of characteristics,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWe have a talented group of newcomers, not just guards, not just bigs, but a balance \u2014 wings, shooting, frontcourt players, and we have a lot of talent in the freshman class, DeAndre in particular because of his physical size.\u201d

Miller\u2019s other freshmen all bring different skills, too: Barcello is an aggressive combo guard, Akot is a big wing who can pass, Randolph\u2019s an athletic shooter in the backcourt, while Lee is a high-motor power forward.

Then there\u2019s the veterans. Because Trier and Alkins opted to return, they will join three senior rotation players (Jackson-Cartwright, Ristic and Keanu Pinder) to give UA an experienced core.

\u201cWe also return a lot of proven players, experienced leadership,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI think some players who have a healthy chip on shoulder, whether it\u2019s Parker (Jackson-Cartwright) to prove himself above and beyond what he\u2019s already done, or Allonzo and Rawle to prove they can be NBA players, coveted players, the best that they can be in college. Or Dusan, who is as good of a scorer in low post as a senior center as maybe I\u2019ve seen.\u201d

\u201cWe have a lot of different qualities and some of the teams I\u2019ve had here that have made a run, that have had a high (NCAA Tournament) seed, have the same types of qualities where you have the combination of experience and talent in the freshman class.\u201d

All that is one reason why Alkins, in addition to having the chance to raise his NBA draft stock, has something to look forward to next season.

\u201cWe all have experience and we have depth, and we have a great recruiting class, and we have great leaders coming back,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cI think our team is going to be special.\u201d

Here\u2019s how Arizona\u2019s spring transition season played out:

March 23: The Wildcats\u2019 season ends with a Sweet 16 loss to Xavier in the NCAA West Regional.

March 28: One of UA\u2019s top remaining spring recruits, five-star wing Brian Bowen of Michigan, says he\u2019s waiting to see how the rosters at Arizona and his other potential choices play out before making a decision.

April 4: Associate head coach Joe Pasternack is named the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Ten days later, he posts a photo to Twitter with a view of the ocean and says \u201cIncredible view from our dorms! #beachliving.\u201d

April 5: UA freshmen Kobi Simmons and Chance Comanche both leave for the NBA draft, with Simmons doing so irrevocably by signing with an agent and Comanche initially leaving the door open for a possible return.

April 13: Allonzo Trier announces he will return for his junior season after contemplating, but not formally entering, the NBA draft. Trier missed half of his sophomore season because of a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug.

April 14: Center Dusan Ristic says he\u2019ll return for his senior season. While Ristic isn\u2019t a projected NBA pick, he always had the option of signing a lucrative pro deal in Europe because of his size, skills and a Serbian passport that would make him a non-import in many cases.

April 15: UA coach Sean Miller pulls in former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar as associate head coach a month after Romar was fired following 15 years as the Huskies\u2019 head coach. Romar said Miller opened discussions about the job by saying, \u201cThis might be out of left field.\u201d

April 19: Five-star forward Shareef O\u2019Neal, the son of basketball legend Shaquille O\u2019Neal, commits to the Wildcats for the class of 2018.

April 28: Kadeem Allen earns an invitation to the NBA combine after performing well in the seniors-only Portsmouth Invitational tournament earlier in the month. Markkanen, Simmons and Alkins are also invited (Markkanen declines) but Comanche is not.

May 3: Possibly sensing that Comanche would stay in the NBA draft pool, Miller tells a UA fan gathering in Tempe that he will add two more recruits \u2014 a prediction that turns out to be accurate with the additions of Chase Jeter and Emmanuel Akot.

May 5: Comanche announces he will stay in the NBA draft pool. \u201cThere wasn\u2019t much room for him with those four bigs, and also (Emmanuel) Akot, who can play the four no problem,\u201d said Draft Express President Jonathan Givony, accurately forecasting that Akot would move from the class of 2017 to 2018 after committing to UA in March.

May 11: In his first NBA combine game, Alkins scores 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, generating speculation he might stay in the draft pool. \u201cIt\u2019s 50-50, and depends on the feedback that I get,\u201d Alkins said.

May 16: Former Duke forward/center Chase Jeter, a former five-star recruit sought by the UA out of Las Vegas\u2019 Bishop Gorman High School, says he\u2019ll transfer to Arizona. Jeter never regularly cracked the Blue Devils rotation in two seasons but Miller, who coached him with USA Basketball in 2014, says landing him was as big as any \u201ccoup\u201d the UA had this spring.

May 21: Alkins announces on social media that he\u2019ll return for his sophomore season, after working out at the combine and for the Nets and Raptors. He opted out of a May 20 workout in Utah because he was leaning toward returning. \u201cAround that time I spoke with coach and ... I ended up making that decision (to stay),\u201d Alkins said. \u201cCoach Miller and I had our cheers and stuff. We were happy.\u201d

May 22: Akot announces he will reclassify, skipping his senior season at Wasatch Academy in order to join the Wildcats next season, having found he was in good enough shape academically to do so.

May 22: Miller holds a news conference to discuss the changes, also confirming that forward Talbott Denny was cleared for a sixth year of eligibility after suffering two-season ending injuries. Arizona\u2019s roster is therefore full at 13 for 2017-18, with Bowen and another top UA target, Pitt transfer Cam Johnson, remaining undecided.

\u201cWe had a lot going on but at the end we have those who have returned and we have quite a few guys who haven\u2019t been there yet,\u201d Miller said. \u201cIt has the makings of a really exciting season.\u201d

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When Canadian wing Emmanuel Akot committed to Arizona in March for the class of 2018, the coast looked pretty clear.

The Wildcats will probably lose players at all positions next spring, and Akot\u2019s five-star talent and versatility suggested he could have stepped into a prominent role during the 2018-19 season.

He still might do just that. But once Akot decided this month to skip his senior season at Utah\u2019s Wasatch Academy and instead play for Arizona next season, the landscape changed a bit for his freshman season.

At age 18, he\u2019ll find himself battling older NBA prospects such as Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins for playing time, while fellow incoming freshmen such as Brandon Randolph and Alex Barcello will be right there with him.

Akot awaits the challenge.

\u201cThat\u2019s what I want \u2014 competition,\u201d Akot said Tuesday via telephone from Utah. \u201cI\u2019m going to compete every day against guys like Rawle and Allonzo. We have a great team, but I\u2019m going to work hard and do what I can.\u201d

That\u2019s good news for UA coach Sean Miller, who was able to get extra versatility and depth on his talented 2017-18 roster by moving the 6-7, 200-pound Akot up a year.

He might even get a long-term point guard out of it, too.

\u201cHe can play a lot of positions, and he\u2019s an adept passer \u2014 as a matter of fact he\u2019s one of best passers his size I have seen,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThat\u2019s an exciting quality, and defensively the sky\u2019s the limit.\u201d

Akot said he expects to start playing the wing positions at the UA and helping defensively, then maybe move into point guard as his career progresses. He said he models his game after big point guards such as James Harden.

\u201cI\u2019ve been playing point guard my whole life, at Wasatch and for my AAU team,\u201d Akot said. \u201cMy size doesn\u2019t bother me. I can handle it. I\u2019m a confident ballhandler.\u201d

Wasatch coach Curtis Condie said he mostly used Akot as a wing and backup point guard, taking advantage of passing ability he said jumped out at him immediately when Akot arrived as a sophomore in 2015-16.

\u201cWhen he came here I was told he was a four (power forward). He\u2019s not a four,\u201d Condie said. \u201cHe played the point, he played the wing and sometimes he\u2019d play the four if we went small. He has great vision.\u201d

Miller said Akot will have a chance to compete for time at point guard along with expected starter Parker Jackson-Cartwright and incoming freshman Alex Barcello, while saying junior wing Allonzo Trier could also slide over to the point.

Akot is \u201cvery young right now but his future might be at that position one day,\u201d Miller said. \u201cAllonzo Trier can slide over there as a veteran, somebody who continues to work to be adept at passing and scoring, and the thing about Allonzo is he has a total command of our system, and he\u2019s a great free-throw shooter. So a lot of time you want the ball in (the hands of) a guy like that.\u201d

While Trier will turn 22 midway through next season, Akot won\u2019t even turn 19 until next season\u2019s NCAA Tournament rolls around.

By then, he will have experienced a big jump in competition, no matter where it leaves him in the playing rotation.

\u201cI think any time you replace your senior year of high school with coming into a college program like ours, from a development perspective it\u2019s going to be sped up astronomically,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI think he\u2019s going to really gain a lot through our strength and conditioning program, and getting a college education.\u201d

The academic side might appear the other big adjustment Akot will have to deal with, but it isn\u2019t. Akot said he was ahead academically when he left his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, for Wasatch Academy in 2015-16, while Condie said the school brought him up to speed by not enrolling him in \u201cfluff courses.\u201d

Akot finished his core courses this year and had been thinking for several months about reclassifying so that he could play college basketball next season. He said he found out a couple of weeks ago that he could qualify to graduae, then told the UA staff he wanted to go ahead with it.

Knowing the value of quality depth especially after absences plagued the Wildcats most of last season, Miller said he welcomed Akot into doing it. Akot effectively took the Wildcats\u2019 13th and final scholarship spot for 2017-18.

Akot then quickly made plans to enroll in a UA bridge summer session course in mid-June, gain at least 15 pounds in the offseason, and start competing with his new teammates.

In college.

\u201cGraduation on the 27th and I\u2019m done with high school,\u201d Akot said. \u201cI have two finals. It\u2019s not stressful.\u201d

Allen works out
for Lakers

Former UA guard Kadeem Allen auditioned for the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, saying it was his seventh team workout. He said at the NBA combine that he had plans to appear in front of 15 teams, an ambitious predraft schedule. \u201cBeen through a lot of workouts and flying,\u201d Allen said on a Lakers.com video. \u201cEast Coast to West Coast, your body gets tired. It\u2019s just a grind, but everybody\u2019s trying to get to the NBA so it\u2019s something we have to do.\u201d

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During the NBA Combine, Kadeem Allen said he had plans to work out for 15 NBA teams before the June 22 NBA Draft.

That\u2019s pretty ambitious -- and tiring, as he pointed out to Los Angeles media following his workout with the Lakers on Tuesday.

\u201cBeen through a lot of workouts and flying,\u201d Allen said on a video posted to the Lakers' website. \u201cEast Coast to West Coast, your body gets tired. It\u2019s just a grind but everybody\u2019s trying to get to the NBA so it\u2019s something we have to do.\u201d

Allen, however, said the experience has been fun and in Los Angeles, of course, he had the chance to meet with fellow UA alum Luke Walton and Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

\u201cIt\u2019s fun playing in front of Arizona guys, especially a head coach like him, and Magic,\u201d Allen said. \u201cTwo Hall of Famers \u2013 coach Luke is going to be a Hall of Famer in the future. It was great (meeting Johnson). Never thought I\u2019d meet him.\u201d


One of the lingering questions from Monday\u2019s Sean Miller news conference was how the Wildcats\u2019 point guard situation could play out \u2013 especially since he mentioned that 6-foot-7 incoming freshman Emmanuel Akot might even play it.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright likely will head into the season as the starter, but Miller said Akot, Alex Barcello and Allonzo Trier could play the position, too.

\u201cThat\u2019s yet to be worked out,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI think Emmanuel Akot can certainly do that. He\u2019s very young right now but his future might be at that position one day. Allonzo Trier can slide over there as a veteran, somebody who continues to work to be adept at passing and scoring, and the thing about Allonzo is he has a total command of our system, and he\u2019s a great free-throw shooter. So a lot of time you want the ball in a guy like that\u2019s hands.

\u201cBut Parker is somebody who\u2019s played that position four four years. I\u2019m hoping he can get a year of good health from start to finish and he\u2019s working really hard right now\u2026 if you look at his shooting in the Pac-12 the last two years and his assist-turnover ratio, it\u2019s nice to have somebody returning who\u2019s already done that. And he has one more level he can be at as a player and we\u2019re talking to him about that every day to get to that level. He\u2019s bound and determined to do it.

\u201cSo certainly him and Alex, as you know, can play point or with a point guard, he\u2019s a freshman who we really believe in.\"

Of course, not all of those four will settle in there. Last season, UA entered with Jackson-Cartwright and Kobi Simmons penciled in as primary point guards, but was prompted to move Allen over and keep Simmons off the ball as the nonconference season played out.

\"Depth wise it\u2019ll work it out,\" Miller said. \"You can\u2019t play four guys at that position, but I think the two best will be there and we\u2019ll go from there.\u201d


Miller also mentioned Trier as a possibility when asked who might take the defensive stopper role next season. Here\u2019s how he answered that one:

\u201cThat\u2019s a great question. We have a lot of candidates, some are maybe young players, but \u2026 you look at Allonzo, Parker, Rawle and especially Allonzo, he has several levels left in him as a defensive player \u2013 talent-wise, the know-how, the ability to really guard a variety of different players.

\u201cEven someone like Rawle knows about the importance of being able to defend, not just play offense. Not until you leave Arizona do you realize the importance of that. Rawle, some of the feedback he got was about the importance of being able to guard a position in the NBA. \u2026 the exciting part for us is we don't have that worked out right now. We\u2019ll know more as we get into November.\u201d


Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday are withdrawing from the NBA Draft pool and returning to UCLA, preventing Steve Alford from completely having to remake his rotation.


After his NBA predraft experience, Utah's David Collette is trying to expand his game.


Kavell Bigby-Williams is still a Duck, at least for now.

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In a span of about 24 hours through Monday morning, Sean Miller welcomed NBA prospect Rawle Alkins back to Tucson, learned he can play high school junior Emmanuel Akot immediately next season and effectively shut down recruiting of additional 2017 players.

When it was all over, the Arizona coach was left staring at possibly the best of nine rosters he has assembled with the Wildcats.

Maybe even as good, if not better, than UA\u2019s Elite Eight teams of 2014 and 2015.

\u201cIt\u2019s along those same lines,\u201d Miller said Monday, during a news conference he attended with Alkins. \u201cWe\u2019ll see. No. 1 there\u2019s injuries. No. 2, is everybody who we think they are? And I think sacrifice is a big word here. Everybody has to play with the bigger objective and the bigger goal. That\u2019s a lot easier said than done.\u201d

By choosing to pass up his senior season at Utah\u2019s Wasatch Academy for a likely reserve role with Arizona next season, Akot has already indicated he\u2019s buying in. A versatile 6-foot-7 forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Akot has the size and skills to play a wing position but also enough of a passing touch that he could even develop into a point guard over time.

\u201cHe was our backup point, we posted him up and he worked a lot on his outside shot,\u201d Wasatch coach Curtis Condie said Monday. \u201cHe was more consistent about (his shot) and when he wants to be, he can be an outstanding defender.\u201d

Akot may just need a little time to adjust. A five-star talent born in Calgary and now based out of Winnipeg, Akot will have to make what Miller calls an \u201castronomical\u201d jump from his junior year to a freshman in Arizona\u2019s high-level college program. He turned 18 only in March and carries just about 200 pounds on his frame.

He\u2019s \u201cnot afraid of competition,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe wants to come in here and compete and be a part of something special and really rely on that competitive environment to bring out the best in him.\u201d

Akot committed to the Wildcats in March for the class of 2018 but, because he is a strong student who has already finished his core classes, was able to enroll at the UA this summer. Miller said Akot also benefited from an accelerated start in the Canadian school system.

While Miller kept pursing other wing players this spring \u2014 such as five star high-schooler Brian Bowen and Pitt grad transfer Cameron Johnson \u2014 he said once Akot decided to start early, Miller made room. Bowen and Johnson no longer appear to be UA targets.

\u201cWe didn\u2019t necessarily try to speed him up or slow him down,\u201d Miller said. \u201cAs long as he was able to qualify, obviously we\u2019re going to take a commitment from him above and beyond anybody else because he\u2019s someone who\u2019s already been a part of what we\u2019re doing.\u201d

All-in Alkins

Although Alkins said at the NBA Combine earlier this month he would probably take until Wednesday\u2019s deadline to decide whether to stay at Arizona, he didn\u2019t need that long.

Having participated in the Combine and individual team workouts with the Nets and Raptors, Alkins pulled out of a planned workout with the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

\u201cAround that time I spoke with coach and ... I ended up making that decision (to stay),\u201d Alkins said. \u201cCoach Miller and I had our cheers and stuff. We were happy.\u201d

Alkins said the NBA feedback he received mostly centered on his versatility and need to shoot better (he shot 37.0 percent from 3-point range as a UA freshman).

\u201cThey tell me I\u2019m one of these hybrid kids that once I get a consistent jump shot I\u2019ll be virtually unstoppable,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cI\u2019m using that as motivation for this year and I\u2019ll continue to be in the gym every night until the first game of the season, shooting a thousand shots a day.\u201d

Miller said the Alkins has already made \u201ctremendous improvement\u201d as a shooter and that his power game can fit into today\u2019s NBA. Alkins measured at 6-foot-2.25 at the Combine.

\u201cWe don\u2019t necessarily have to find him a position,\u201d Miller said. \u201cIt\u2019s about him developing so that in a year from now that he\u2019s a better overall player, a more prepared player than he is right now and that\u2019s really what college basketball is all about.\u201d

Taking a Chance

While center Chance Comanche initially entered the NBA Draft without an agent as Alkins did, leaving the option to return to school, Comanche signed with one a month later despite not being invited to the Combine.

\u201cI was surprised that Chance went but along the lines of Rawle, that\u2019s his family\u2019s decision, that\u2019s Chance\u2019s decision,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI\u2019m not sitting here every day hoping that things don\u2019t go well. I want him to do well and if there\u2019s any way that we can help him as a basketball program, we want to help him.\u201d

Meanwhile, freshman guard Kobi Simmons opted to leave permanently right away, signing with an agent in April. Miller said he expected that decision.

\u201cKobi and his family are very transparent and I think they wanted to get it started,\u201d Miller said. \u201cAs you know, he\u2019s one of the most athletically talented, gifted kids we\u2019ve had. If you look at where he is now physically, it\u2019s scary to think where he\u2019ll be three or four years from now. He\u2019s continuing to make that transition from high school point guard to pro point guard. So there\u2019s a development process he\u2019s going to go through whether he was here or whether he\u2019s in the NBA game or wherever he\u2019s at.\u201d

Bullish on Jeter

Although forward/center Chase Jeter didn\u2019t fully crack the Duke rotation in two years with the Blue Devils, Miller said he expects \u201cgreat things\u201d from him at Arizona. Jeter will play on the UA scout team in practice next season while sitting out the required redshirt year, then be eligible as a junior in 2018-19.

\u201cI think we\u2019re getting an excellent player,\u201d Miller said. \u201cGetting Chase was a big, big coup for us, as big as anything we were able to do this spring and we\u2019re excited.\u201d

Rim shots

\u2022 Miller said forward Talbott Denny was cleared for a sixth year of eligibility, giving the Wildcats additional depth and experience next season with the Tucson-born grad transfer from Lipscomb. The approval was something of a formality, since Denny met the requirement that it was not his choice he sat out for two seasons with injuries.

\u2022 Miller said Kadeem Allen\u2019s graduation this month continued a streak of having all of his seniors graduate, 13 in all.

\u201cThat\u2019s a source of pride, not just for me but for our athletic department and support staff,\u201d Miller said. \u201cIn Kadeem\u2019s case, for him to leave Hanover High School in Wilmington (N.C.) and go to junior college and redshirt (at UA), and end at that finish line, to graduate, is quite a testament to him.\u201d

\u2022 Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier are the only UA players taking pre-summer-session courses, while Miller said all of his newcomers will enroll in June, either for the first summer session or a bridge course. The entire team is expected to be eligible to play on a three-game exhibition tour in Spain in August.

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Wasatch Academy wing Emmanuel Akot will reclassify for the class of 2017, meaning he can play for the Arizona Wildcats next season, Wasatch coach Curtis Condie confirmed Monday.

Akot\u2019s move probably also sews up the Wildcats\u2019 2017-18 roster, taking the 13th and final available scholarship, meaning recruiting targets Brian Bowen and Cam Johnson are likely off the Wildcats' board. UA also received the return of sophomore Rawle Alkins on Sunday from the NBA Draft pool.

Akot committed to the Wildcats in March for the class of 2018 but Condie said Monday that Akot was in sound shape academically and just has to get through this week at Wasatch to complete sufficient high school courses that will make him able to enroll at Arizona. He said Akot is expected to attend summer school at UA, meaning he will also be eligible to play on the Wildcats\u2019 exhibition trip to Spain in August.

\u201cWe were able to make it work,\u201d Condie said. \u201cWe just had to make sure it could be done academically and we were able to get through all of that.

\u201cOur kids take academic classes. They\u2019re not fluff classes. I think of it as this is where the Ivy League meets the Pac-12.\u201d

Akot, a product of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is listed at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds but is expected to play a wing role off the bench for the Wildcats as a freshman. Condie said he also played backup point guard at Wasatch.

\u201cHe was our backup point, we posted him up and he worked a lot on his outside shot,\u201d Condie said. \u201cHe was more consistent about (his shot) and when he wants to be, he can be an outstanding defender.\u201d


Here's how Arizona's 2017-18 roster looks, now that it's all but finalized:

1. Dusan Ristic C Sr. 7-0 245

2. Parker Jackson-Cartwright G Sr. 5-10 170

3. Talbott Denny Sr. F 6-5 215\u00a0

4. Keanu Pinder Sr. F 6-9 220

5. Allonzo Trier Jr. G 6-5 205\u00a0

6. Chase Jeter Jr. F 6-10 230 (ineligible until 2018-19)

7. Rawle Alkins So. G 6-4 220

8. Dylan Smith So. G 6-5 170

9. DeAndre Ayton Fr. F/C 7-0 235\u00a0

10. Alex Barcello Fr. G 6-2 170

11. Ira Lee Fr. F 6-8 225\u00a0

12. Brandon Randolph Fr. F 6-6 180

13. Emmanuel Akot Fr. F 6-8 190


Or, to put the UA roster in \"depth chart\" form, it might look something like this heading into the summer:

PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Alex Barcello

SG Allonzo Trier, Dylan Smith, Brandon Randolph

SF Rawle Alkins, Emmanuel Akot, Randolph

PF DeAndre Ayton, Keanu Pinder, Ira Lee, Talbott Denny

C Dusan Ristic, Ayton

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Rawle Alkins says he can\u2019t wait to help Arizona win a national championship next season, and now the Wildcats might be expected to do just that.

Alkins announced on social media Sunday that he will return for his sophomore season after testing the NBA Draft process by participating in the NBA Combine and private workouts with the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors.

He was subbed out of a scheduled workout at Utah on Saturday, fueling speculation he would return to the UA, and announced he was withdrawing from the draft on Sunday, three days before the deadline college players have to return to school if they do not sign with an agent.

His return ensures the Wildcats will be at least a top Final Four candidate, with many national publications already having called them an early No. 1 preseason pick.

\u201cAfter much thought and consideration, I have decided to continue my college basketball career back in Tucson at the University of Arizona,\u201d Alkins posted on Instagram and Twitter. \u201cDeclaring for the NBA Draft has taught me more than I could have imagined and has been an incredible experience. I can\u2019t wait to help the Wildcats win a national championship next year with a great team, great coach, and the most amazing fans in the world.\u201d

On Twitter, Alkins posted that statement along with this message: \u201cStory is not over yet, still have some unfinished business to take care of. SAVAGELIFE.\u201d

Alkins is projected as a mid-second round NBA pick in 2018 by Draft Express, and he likely could have warranted a similar spot this June and/or a two-way contract that would have earned him between $76,000 and $279,000 depending on the number of days he played in the D-League and NBA.

In Chicago earlier this month, Alkins opened eyes during his first NBA Combine game by scoring 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while recording the fifth-highest maximum vertical leap (40.5 inches) in a Combine with 67 participants.

\u201cSome nice moments for Rawle Alkins,\u201d Draft Express analyst Mike Schmitz tweeted during the Combine. \u201cA load going to the rim, not shying away from contact, can play PnR (pick and roll) and make a spot three.\u201d

After his first game, Alkins indicated that he was enjoying more offensive freedom in the NBA setting.

\u201cI didn\u2019t think I really showcased (offense) too much this season being that I was a freshman,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cWhether I go back to school or go to the NBA Draft, I think that\u2019s going to expand because I continue to work on my craft and my game every day.\u201d

Alkins also said at the Combine he was \u201c50-50\u201d on returning to school or staying in the draft, saying it would depend on the feedback he received from NBA scouts and executives.

Alkins may play a similar role as a sophomore, with Allonzo Trier and freshman DeAndre Ayton expected to be the Wildcats\u2019 leading scorers, but said he was confident he would improve whether he returned to Arizona or not.

\u201cYou know the University of Arizona. You know how amazing it is over there,\u201d Alkins told the Star at the Combine. \u201cIt\u2019s a tough decision. Depending on my decision, it can impact a bunch of people.\u201d

Alkins\u2019 return gives the UA a potentially powerful starting lineup with he and Trier on the wings, surrounded by Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard, Ayton at power forward and Dusan Ristic at center.

During the wave of \u201cWay Too Early\u201d Top 25 picks released in April, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, USA Today and Fox all put the Wildcats atop their rankings, while ESPN had them at No. 11 and Bleacher Report put them at 10.

\u201cIf the guys on the should-I-go-pro fence decide to return, Arizona is the clear Pac-12 favorite, and the Wildcats will stay atop this (national) ranking,\u201d Sporting News wrote. Its college basketball columnist, Mike DeCourcy, told the Star that the ranking was based on an assumption that the UA would return two of its top three perimeter players: Alkins, Trier and Kobi Simmons.

While Simmons stayed in permanently and is projected as a second-round pick, Trier opted to return without even testing the draft.

Not surprisingly, Alkins\u2019 announcement that he was also staying generated significant reaction on Twitter, where he was trending into the late afternoon. Ristic even quoted Alkins\u2019 statement and added: \u201cGlad you\u2019re back bro! #SavageLife\u201d

Jackson-Cartwright replied to them both by saying: \u201cYessir!\u201d

While UA coach Sean Miller was unavailable for comment Sunday, Arizona announced 61 minutes after Alkins posted his statement that the school would hold a news conference with Miller at noon on Monday.

While Alkins\u2019 move probably cemented the Wildcats\u2019 starting lineup next season, Arizona still has one scholarship available for 2017-18. The decisions of Alkins and Trier to return probably make it less likely UA will receive a commitment from five-star wing Brian Bowen, who has said he is waiting to see who returns to the schools he is considering.

The UA still might have a shot at Pitt grad transfer wing Cameron Johnson, who is also considering Kentucky and North Carolina, among others. However, Scout.com\u2019s North Carolina site posted a statement from Pitt that it will not let him play immediately next season if he transfers within the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Johnson is a third-year sophomore who is expected to graduate from Pitt, making him a rare grad transfer who will be eligible to play immediately and have two years remaining.

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Arizona wing Rawle Alkins announced today he will return to the Wildcats for his sophomore season after testing the NBA Draft process, posting a statement on Twitter:

Story is not over yet, still have some unfinished business to take care of\ud83d\udcaf \ud83d\ude4f\ud83c\udfff SAVAGELIFE pic.twitter.com/eOBwEYLdL6

\u2014 Rawle Alkins (@Iam_RawleAlkins) May 21, 2017

Alkins was invited to the NBA Combine earlier this month and worked out for the Nets and Raptors before making his decision. He was replaced for a workout with Utah on Saturday, fueling speculation he might return to Arizona.

A projected second-round pick in 2018, Alkins was Arizona's third-leading scorer last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Alkins' return means UA has one final scholarship available for the 2017-18 season, though it may also mean the Wildcats are less likely to land high school wing Brian Bowen or Pitt transfer forward Cam Johnson because the Wildcats appear to have a clear set of starters.

Alkins will be expected to start at small forward alongside point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, shooting guard Allonzo Trier, power forward DeAndre Ayton and center Dusan Ristic on a team that could be a preseason No. 1 pick.

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Maybe it means something, maybe it means nothing, but Rawle Alkins isn't going to work out for the Utah Jazz as scheduled on Saturday.

Alkins has worked out for the Nets and Raptors and was scheduled to visit Salt Lake City this weekend but the Jazz announced Friday he has been replaced by Illinois' Malcolm Hill. The Jazz hold draft picks 24, 30, 42 and 55 as of now.

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Tony Jones was among those pondering the possible significance:

Arizona guard Rawle Alkins has pulled out of a workout with the Utah Jazz...wondering if that means he's going back to school?

\u2014 Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) May 19, 2017

Alkins has until next Wednesday to withdraw if he wants to return to Arizona, a\u00a0deadline that is NCAA-imposed. The NBA's official withdrawal deadline of June 12 is meaningless for players thinking of returning to college.

In Toronto, Alkins was joined by Oregon's Dylan Ennis and four other players in a Raptors' workout, with UCLA's T.J. Leaf working out later.


Draft Express' post-ping-pong-ball lottery analysis says the Kings (5), Magic (6), Timberwolves (7) and Knicks (8) will all consider Lauri Markkanen but that Dallas will ultimately pick him at No. 9.

"}, {"id":"50c68b68-3810-5073-90f9-e8ffaef9ad72","type":"article","starttime":"1495238400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-05-19T17:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1495260159","priority":42,"sections":[{"basketball":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Salpointe Catholic grad Jesse Mermuys relishing role with old buddy Luke Walton and the Lakers","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/article_50c68b68-3810-5073-90f9-e8ffaef9ad72.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/salpointe-catholic-grad-jesse-mermuys-relishing-role-with-old-buddy/article_50c68b68-3810-5073-90f9-e8ffaef9ad72.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/salpointe-catholic-grad-jesse-mermuys-relishing-role-with-old-buddy/article_50c68b68-3810-5073-90f9-e8ffaef9ad72.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Bruce Pascoe\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Onetime UA staffer is living out a lifelong goal of working in the NBA.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#top5sports","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"76706"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5","description":"Jesse Mermuys coaches the Raptors\u2019 Lucas Nogueira in the D-League.","byline":"Garrett Ellwood / NBA","hireswidth":1089,"hiresheight":1901,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/89/189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5/591f5be51c530.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"435","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/89/189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5/591f5be51a911.image.jpg?resize=435%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"175","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/89/189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5/591f5be51a911.image.jpg?resize=100%2C175"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"524","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/89/189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5/591f5be51a911.image.jpg?resize=300%2C524"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1788","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/89/189fa3b8-e6da-562c-9a32-05e3712b33c5/591f5be51a911.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1788"}}}],"revision":19,"commentID":"50c68b68-3810-5073-90f9-e8ffaef9ad72","body":"

That former Tucson roommates Jesse Mermuys and Luke Walton worked together on an NBA coaching staff together this season is probably no surprise.

It was probably bound to happen at some point, considering their basketball passion and knowledge.

Just maybe not this soon.

When they lived together in Tucson back in 2002-03, Walton was finishing up his senior season with the Wildcats and about to embark on what became a 10-year NBA playing career.

Mermuys was working as the freshman and assistant varsity coach at his alma mater of Salpointe Catholic, about to embark on a fast-paced college and NBA coaching career.

Walton played eight full seasons with the Lakers, split one between Los Angeles and Cleveland, and retired as a Cavalier in 2013. He worked with the Lakers\u2019 D-League team in 2013-14, then joined Steve Kerr\u2019s Golden State staff as an assistant in 2013-14.

Mermuys, 36, has been even more well-traveled. He took staff jobs in college basketball at Southern Utah, New Mexico State and Arizona, then NBA jobs with Houston, Denver and Toronto, ultimately becoming head coach of Toronto\u2019s D-League affiliate in 2015-16.

Then last year, their paths converged. Having turbocharged his r\u00e9sum\u00e9 by serving capably as the Warriors\u2019 interim head coach, Walton was hired to run the rebuilding Lakers in 2016-17 \u2014 and asked Mermuys to join him as an assistant.

The answer was yes.

During the NBA combine in Chicago last week, when coaching one of the combine teams, Mermuys reflected on working with Walton on the Lakers\u2019 staff and his career so far:

Did you think you guys would be coaching together this quickly in the NBA?

A: \u201cNo. I didn\u2019t think so. It\u2019s one of those things you\u2019re working and you\u2019re trying to work your way up and for him to be able to get to Golden State after playing like he did was an unbelievable opportunity for him. I think it happened so fast and the timing was right.\u201d

What is being with the Lakers like after having been in other organizations and the D-League?

A: \u201cIt was an amazing experience getting to work for Luke. That was the main thing. He\u2019s just an unbelievable coach, an unbelievable person and so fun to work for. So that part was amazing.\u201d

What adjustments have you made with the Lakers after all your other stops?

A: \u201cI think being a head coach in the D-League was really valuable for me. I\u2019m a much better assistant coach for Luke than I was for Dwane Casey in Toronto and George Karl (in Denver) and Kevin McHale (in Houston).

\u201cOnce you really get to experience that seat and you get that perspective on it, it makes you realize how you can really help the guy that\u2019s in that chair. It\u2019s not trying to put too much on that guy\u2019s plate and being able to filter things that are necessary and unnecessary, trying to make his job easier.\u201d

How was the chemistry with the Lakers?

A: \u201cIt was the ground floor of a long-term process of trying to build something that\u2019s special and sustainable, and we made a lot of progress. Obviously, that didn\u2019t translate to wins and losses but we kind of knew that going in.

\u201cLuke did a really excellent job of staying true to himself, staying positive and really focusing on development of our foundation as a coach rather than getting caught up in the wins and losses.\u201d

Do you feel you\u2019re ahead of where you expected to be at this point in your career?

A: \u201cNo, I don\u2019t because my dream and goal is to be a head coach in the NBA and I\u2019m not really ever able to stop until that dream is realized. I don\u2019t have time to smell the flowers. I\u2019m just kind of, like, steamrolling it and doing the best I can.\u201d

Where did the basketball interest come from? Did anyone in your family play the game?

A: \u201cNo. I was a much better soccer player growing up but I loved the game of basketball and I loved Arizona basketball and that really shaped my career. I wound up playing junior college in Glendale and ended up coaching at Pima (College), went to a small D-I school in Utah, then New Mexico State and got on as director of basketball operations for coach (Lute) Olson.

\u201cI was going to do whatever it took to make the NBA, and if I wasn\u2019t going to play there, I was going to coach there.\u201d

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The 13-player scholarship maximum hardly matters anymore in high-major college basketball recruiting, where players come and go all the time, and the inflow tends to stop once guys sense their potential playing time is spoken for.

(Like how new Oregon commit Miles Norris\u00a0told the Oregonian that Arizona, which had just received a commitment from Shareef O'Neal, had \"too many people the same position as me.\" Or how Brian Bowen appears to be only considering\u00a0UA if Rawle Alkins leaves.)

But looking at future rosters can serve as a reminder of what kind of room is left at the moment and what kind of needs the Wildcats have.

So in case anyone was wondering, here\u2019s how the latest head count looks now that Arizona's 2017-18 roster is getting close to final:

2017-18

Seniors

1. Dusan Ristic, center

2. Parker Jackson-Cartwright, guard

3. Talbott Denny, forward

4. Keanu Pinder, forward

Juniors

5. Allonzo Trier, guard

6. Chase Jeter, forward (ineligible until 2018-19)

Sophomores

7. Rawle Alkins, guard/forward (tentative, has until May 24 to decide)

8. Dylan Smith, guard

Freshmen

9. DeAndre Ayton, center/forward

10. Alex Barcello, guard

11. Ira Lee, forward

12. Brandon Randolph, guard

That\u2019s one open scholarship if Alkins returns to UA and two if he doesn\u2019t. And obviously a need for a small forward if he doesn\u2019t return, which makes the recruitments of Cam Johnson and Brian Bowen critical. (There's also a chance 2018 wing forward Emmanuel Akot could reclassify and play in 2017-18 if needed, since he's ahead academically at Utah's Wasatch Academy).

Now for a really silly exercise \u2013 yet one that highlights the importance of UA\u2019s 2018 recruiting class -- here\u2019s the 2018-19 roster and scholarship count as of now:

2018-19

Seniors

1. Allonzo Trier, wing

Juniors

2. Chase Jeter, forward

3. Rawle Alkins, guard/forward

4. Dylan Smith, guard

Sophomores

5. Alex Barcello, guard

6. Ira Lee, forward

7. Brandon Randolph, guard

Freshmen

8. Emmanuel Akot, forward

9. Shareef O\u2019Neal, forward

Obviously, Alkins and Trier aren\u2019t likely to be around by then (Ayton has already said he won\u2019t be), which makes it even more clear that the Wildcats need bodies for 2018-19 even after getting commitments from Akot, O\u2019Neal and Jeter. But getting Jeter was a big step for UA since he\u2019s almost certain to be around by then after sitting out next season as a redshirting transfer.\u00a0


North Carolina has entered the Cam Johnson sweepstakes.


For anyone seeking a Bill Walton fix this time of year, UA basketball publicist Matt Ensor put together a list of Walton's Grateful Dead references from UA games last season, actually having taken notes on them while watching each game video replay.


Drew Eubanks is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to Oregon State, so the Beavers will return their top trio of Eubanks, Stephen Thompson Jr and Tres Tinkle.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the\u00a0one-and-done rule has\u00a0created a \"travesty\" in\u00a0college basketball.


In a Bleacher Report Q-and-A, Shareef O'Neal says he puts \"my recruiting hat on\" to talk to Bol Bol about coming to Arizona.


A school in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's hometown of Chester, Pa., named a gym after him.

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The Arizona Wildcats have added two more players to their roster: Transfers Kat Wright and Tee Tee Starks.

Wright, who played at Florida Atlantic, is eligible to play right away as a graduate transfer. Wright averaged 11.7 points per game and shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range two years ago. She hit 11 3-pointers in FAU's Jan. 30, 2016 win over Charlotte, the second-most in NCAA history.

\u201cKat is a very accomplished player who is a fierce competitor with a high basketball IQ,\u201d UA coach Adia Barnes said in a statement Wednesday. \u201cShe is a player that we can use in many different ways and she will also stretch the floor for us.\u201d

The Sherman Oaks, California native can also rebound: She averaged 4.6 rebounds per game during the 2015-16 season. She sat out last season after suffering an injury.

Starks averaged three points, four rebounds and two assists per game at Iowa State this season. She will sit out one year due to NCAA transfer rules, and will have three years to play for the Wildcats.

Starks was named to the Big 12's All-Academic First Team.

\u201cTee Tee is a winner,\u201d Barnes said. \u201cShe is tough, smart and does so many things well to help her team win.\u201d

"} ]