Arizona basketball: With 7 new Cats, it's time for intros

2012-05-08T00:01:00Z 2014-07-24T10:54:20Z Arizona basketball: With 7 new Cats, it's time for introsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 08, 2012 12:01 am  • 

Along with beachwear, basketball gear and sunscreen, there's one more item coach Sean Miller might consider bringing along when his Arizona Wildcats visit the Bahamas in August:

Name tags.

With the addition of former Xavier guard Mark Lyons, who committed to spending his final year of eligibility at Arizona next season, the Wildcats now have an unusually large collection of seven new players for the "class" of 2012.

In fact, the Wildcats now have more new players than returning ones after six months of roster transition.

They signed four freshmen in the fall, dismissed freshman forward Sidiki Johnson in December, then said goodbye to guard Josiah Turner (SMU) and center Kyryl Natyazhko (Europe) this spring while adding three more scholarship players, plus invited walk-on guard Jacob Hazzard.

While UA has not yet formally announced any of its three spring additions - official paperwork must be completed by Lyons before it can do so - here's one early look at how the new guys will fit in:

Brandon Ashley

• Hometown: Dublin, Calif.

• Position: Forward

• Size: 6-8, 215

• Year: Freshman

• Skills: Mobile, skilled and long forward with big upside. Can score around basket and into middle range, with good moves and footwork. Toughness and intensity can use improvement, however.

• Projected role: If Ashley commits to full-time effort and defense, he could be Arizona's starting power forward. If nothing else, he should at least be a significant player in the post rotation.

Grant Jerrett

• Hometown: Chino, Calif.

• Position: Center/power forward

• Size: 6-10, 220

• Year: Freshman

• Skills: Smart, rangy big man who can play comfortably with back to basket, yet is also a capable shooter from mid- and long-range. Good passer and solid shot blocker with potential to be a strong post defender.

• Projected role: Jerrett probably would have been the Wildcats' starting center last season if he hadn't been in high school. He'll have a battle to get the job this season but, no matter what happens, he's likely to be on the floor often.

Matt Korcheck

• Hometown: Tucson

• Position: Forward

• Size: 6-9, 218

• Year: Junior

• Skills: Agile big man with good rebounding and defensive potential. Needs strength and a more refined offense to compete at elite college level.

• Projected role: Because he needs to grow into a high-major player, both physically and in experience, the Cochise College product asked to redshirt during his first season at Arizona. His practice competition will be formidable, and he and the Wildcats should benefit from that experience in 2013-14.

Mark Lyons

• Hometown: Schenectady, N.Y.

• Position: Guard

• Size: 6-1, 188

• Year: Senior

• Skills: Experienced, tough-minded combo guard. Defenses cannot ignore his significant offensive skills.

• Projected role: Lyons might be a perfect fit for the Wildcats: He wants to be a point guard to improve his pro potential, and UA needs a point guard for a year until T.J. McConnell is eligible. Having one with the ability to score, and thus draw respect from opposing defenses, is even more of a plus.

T.J. McConnell

• Hometown: Pittsburgh

• Position: Guard

• Size: 6-1, 185

• Year: Junior

• Skills: True pass-first point guard who had better than a 2-1 assist-turnover ratio at Duquesne last season. Selective, accurate three-point shooter. Good defender.

• Projected role: McConnell will have to sit out the required redshirt season under NCAA transfer rules, so he will likely be the scout team point guard, mimicking the opposing team's point guard in practices. He will also provide invaluable practice experience for Lyons and Jordin Mayes, the Wildcats' two most likely point guards next season.

Kaleb Tarczewski

• Position: Center

• Hometown: Claremont, N.H.

• Size: 7-0, 230

• Year: Freshman

• Skills: Skilled finisher with both hands around the basket. Runs the floor well for a 7-footer. Has improved strength and moves inside, and potential to become a significant defensive presence.

• Projected role: Tarczewski will either start or be a key reserve, but it won't matter much because his unique size and skills will earn him significant minutes.

Gabe York

• Hometown: West Covina, Calif.

• Size: 6-1, 170

• Year: Freshman

• Skills: Pure scorer who is particularly effective in transition. Good ballhandling and some ability to play point guard, if needed. Needs improvement defensively.

• Projected role: Key reserve or starter at shooting guard. York will probably split time with Nick Johnson at the position, though Kevin Parrom could also earn minutes there if the Wildcats go with a bigger lineup.

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