UA HOOPS

Arizona Basketball: Cats trying to bulk up a 'very light' Pitts

2013-06-21T00:00:00Z 2013-06-21T09:35:03Z Arizona Basketball: Cats trying to bulk up a 'very light' PittsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Elliott Pitts turned 18 on Wednesday but that isn't why his life just changed.

It's because he showed up to begin his Arizona Wildcats basketball career with just 170 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame.

"That's very light," UA coach Sean Miller said.

So, with Pitts on campus for just three weeks so far, the Wildcats have him up to about 175 already and the freshman shooting guard is expected to put on even more in the weeks to come.

"He checked into college as a 17-year-old," Miller said Thursday. "With that, you know there's a lot of upside. … His growth through the next three or four months will be fun to watch."

While all the Wildcats won't be on campus until the second summer session in July, Pitts and Kansas transfer Zach Peters have already joined several returning players while taking classes, lifting weights and doing limited drills.

Peters' initial challenge is somewhat different. Having suffered multiple concussions at Kansas, Peters has been easing into his basketball workload. Miller said he has been lifting weights and doing skill work, though none of the Wildcats are doing full-court or full-contact workouts at this point.

"With Zach we're taking it one step at a time from a medical perspective, so we can put him in a position long-term to be successful," Miller said. "He's able to shoot and lift, and most importantly get used to Tucson. Part of it with him is just to get both feet on the ground this summer."

UA still doesn't know yet if Peters will receive a waiver to play next season. He is expected to be able to bypass the normal redshirt season required of transfers if the NCAA rules he left Kansas for reasons out of his control.

UA's other two newcomers, Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, are expected to arrive next month. Both tried out for USA Basketball's U19 team last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo., while Gordon made the final cut and will play in the U19 World Championships through July 7.

"He's just picked right up where he left off at being the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game, making this team as a 17-year-old, and carving out, I think, a pretty big role on this team," Miller said, adding that Hollis-Jefferson also impressed at the tryouts.

"The feedback I got from the people who were there is Rondae was one of the last guys to get cut," Miller said. "Like Aaron, they love his motor, he plays hard, and he's a great teammate. They went with a couple of guys who maybe shot the ball a little bit better, but Rondae being here for summer two (the second session) and being able to work with us, he'll get some great benefit from that."

Miller supports alliance

Miller said he is backing the new officiating alliance between the Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference, after the controversy involving former Pac-12 officials coordinator Ed Rush led to Rush's resignation and a league-commissioned investigation this spring.

Miller said he has yet to speak with Bobby Dibler, the Mountain West officials coordinator who will head the new alliance, but that UCLA coach Steve Alford spoke highly of him. Alford left New Mexico and the Mountain West this spring to take the Bruins' job.

"And I know the officials, generally speaking, really enjoy working with him," Miller said. "From a logistical perspective, when you think geographically, it makes sense to partner with the best officials in that conference to hopefully get the best talent in our league. I support it and I hope it works out well."

Pastner to hire Gardner

Memphis coach Josh Pastner is again turning to his UA roots to hire an assistant coach with the Tigers, having moved to hire former Wildcat guard Jason Gardner away from an assistant coaching job at Loyola (Ill.).

Gardner played for the Wildcats between 1999-2000 and 2002-03, when Pastner was a player and an aide at UA. Gardner will effectively replace ex-Wildcat Damon Stoudamire, who left Memphis this spring to join Miller's staff, while Pastner also hired former Wildcat Luke Walton temporarily during the 2011-12 NBA lockout.

The Tennessee Board of Regents must approve the hire.

On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the offseason at azstarnet.com/pascoe

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