Editor’s note: The Star’s Zack Rosenblatt is counting down the 50 best athletes on the UA campus right now, with help from athletes, coaches and those close to the program.
No. 42: Parker Jackson-Cartwright
Sport: Men's basketball
The details: Jackson-Cartwright is a 5-foot-10 senior who will enter his final season as Arizona’s full-time point guard. The last two seasons, he split time at the position with Kadeem Allen — who was picked by the Celtics in the NBA draft last week — and before that was a backup to T.J. McConnell as a true freshman. Jackson-Cartwright came to Arizona a four-star recruit and the No. 1 point guard in the West, according to Scout.com, and picked the Wildcats over UCLA, Washington, USC and others. Jackson-Cartwright missed his senior season of high school due to academic issues, but still joined the Wildcats as a key part of their 2014 recruiting class, alongside Stanley Johnson, Dusan Ristic and Craig Victor. Ristic, a senior, is the only other player remaining from the class.
The numbers: Jackson-Cartwright has never been one to put up gaudy numbers, but he’s often been efficient — especially from 3-point range — and doesn’t turn the ball over. In 9.6 minutes per game as a freshman, he averaged 2.9 points, 1.8 assists and 0.7 turnovers per game while shooting 39.1 percent on 3s. As a sophomore, his playing time bumped up to 21.2 minutes per game, and his averages increased slightly across the board, to 5.2 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 turnovers, with a 37.5 percent 3-point shooting clip. Last year, Jackson-Cartwright missed some time due to injury but still finished with career-bests across the board at 5.9 points, 4.1 assists and 1.3 turnovers per game, shooting 42.3 percent from three.
The value: Allen is off to the NBA, and Kobi Simmons left after one season, leaving the Wildcats without much depth at point guard. After Jackson-Cartwright, the Wildcats have true freshman Alex Barcello, a talented shooter who can also play the two. UA coach Sean Miller mentioned it was likely the Wildcats would also play Allonzo Trier, a two, and Emmanuel Akot, a 6-foot-8 freshman, at the point. Jackson-Cartwright has, at times, struggled to stay healthy — he missed six games last year with an ankle injury, and wasn’t 100 percent for a while — but the Wildcats will need him to avoid missing any time this season. Arizona is loaded everywhere else on its roster, and the Wildcats will need a career-season from Jackson-Cartwright if the UA intends to return to its first Final Four since 2001.
Why Jackson-Cartwright? Jackson-Cartwright spent a year learning behind McConnell and Arizona’s offense in the last two years has often flowed best when Jackson-Cartwright was running the show. With Arizona loaded on the wing with Trier, Rawle Alkins and freshman Brandon Randolph, and in the low post with Ristic and freshman DeAndre Ayton, the Wildcats will need Jackson-Cartwright to run a smooth ship. “When he’s in the game, our ball movement is great,” Ristic said of PJC in March. “He’s a pass-first player who cares about other players more than himself.”
Proof he’s good: Jackson-Cartwright had five or more assists on 13 occasions last season and he was particularly impressive in games against Northern Colorado (11 assists, one turnover), Utah (9 assists, 0 turnovers) and Colorado (7 assists, 0 turnovers). From Feb. 16 to March 11, a stretch of eight games, Jackson-Cartwright made 17 of 25 three pointers — 68 percent — and Arizona went 7-1 in those games.
What Jackson-Cartwright can accomplish: With an increased minutes workload, provided Jackson-Cartwright stays healthy he’s primed for a drastic increase in numbers, particularly in the assists category, and would be a candidate for All-Conference honors and potentially the conference’s Most Improved Player award.
They said it: “He’s really mature for his age, and he doesn’t really get that emotional. He stays even-keeled, which you need from your point guard, and something I should probably learn from him, really.” — T.J. McConnell in 2015
He said it: “It’s big shoes to fill (playing point guard at Arizona). I’m not trying to be anybody else but myself. I can’t be Mike Bibby, I can’t be Jason Gardner, I just try to be myself. I’m unique in different ways than them, and I try to bring that every day.” — Jackson-Cartwright