UA Basketball notes

Ashley may delay NBA, but Miller knows 'a lot can change'

2014-02-11T00:00:00Z 2014-02-11T22:29:05Z Ashley may delay NBA, but Miller knows 'a lot can change'By Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

After Brandon Ashley undergoes foot surgery today, the sophomore forward will eventually be able to return to 100 percent, according to University of Arizona coach Sean Miller.

But Miller isn’t 100 percent certain that Ashley will do so with the Wildcats.

The coach can’t be ... ever ... with anybody. Not anymore.

Not if you consider the surprise departures of Grant Jerrett (pro ball) and Angelo Chol (San Diego State) after last season, or the draft stock of current Wildcats such as Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon.

“With Brandon and all of our players, we’re not at that period of time now. Just because none of us, including their families, have the necessary information,” Miller said. “With each of them, you want them to make great decisions on whether to come back or not.”

Ashley has been unavailable to local media since before he injured his foot on Feb. 1 at Cal, but he left encouraging words for the Wildcats during an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman before the Feb. 6 UA-Oregon game.

“I wasn’t 100 percent (sure of coming back) before the injury,” Ashley told ESPN, “but I’ve thought about it, and there’s a very, very, very strong chance I’ll be back at the University of Arizona next year.”

The Wildcats hope that’s the case, but Miller is aware of how fluid young mens’ lives can sometimes be.

“Here we are in February, and a lot can change,” Miller said. “For example, two weeks ago, think about how things have changed for Brandon.

“I think as we move forward in a timely manner, each family will work together in a timely manner. Hopefully, all these guys will make the right decision for them, and if that right decision for them is to leave, then we 100 percent support them.”

Ratings stay same

Arizona was voted the No. 2 team in the AP Top 25 media poll for the second straight week on Monday, and No. 3 in the USA Today coaches Top 25.

UA is at No. 2 in the RPI, and continues to be projected by ESPN’s Bracketology as the top seed in the tourney’s West Region, with a path to the Final Four through San Diego and Anaheim, Calif.

Bracketology has five other Pac-12 teams earning berths: UCLA as a 6, Stanford as a 9, and Cal, Colorado and ASU all as 10 seeds.

Helping hand

By cramming nine points into a five-minute appearance Sunday, senior guard Jordin Mayes may have given the Wildcats more hope that there are valuable pieces on their bench.

In the six previous Pac-12 games he played, Mayes averaged just 3.5 minutes and one point.

“It was good to see Jordin make a shot,” Miller said. “We always trust him on defense, and confidence is a big part of all this, so hopefully this game can spark him to regain some of that confidence he had earlier.”

The soft-spoken Mayes hasn’t had many opportunities to prove himself this season, but said he’s doing what he can.

“They trust me on the defensive end, so I’m going to go out there and play my heart out,” Mayes said. “On offense, it’s just being confident in myself — make plays, hit open shots, and get other teammates involved.

“Just playing basketball.”

Holding his own

After missing three treys against Oregon State, freshman guard Ellliott Pitts has made just 1 of 6 three-pointers since Ashley was injured. But he did grab three rebounds in 14 minutes, and Miller commended his defense.

“Elliott has done a real good job in the three (recent) games he’s played,” Miller said. “I thought all three shots he took were good ones. It’s not easy to make them when you’ve been sitting so long this year, but we’ve talked to him about being aggressive and … he gives us another shooter, opens the court up, gives us a different look for sure.

“The thing I’m most proud about with him is he’s really battled defensively. As a young player, he’s ahead of the curve on defense. Seeing him be responsible and contribute as much defense as he did is a good sign for us.”

Rim shots

  • ASU’s
  • Jordan Bachynski
  • was named the Pac-12’s Player of the Week after the center totaled 43 points, 24 rebounds and 16 blocks in the Sun Devils’ sweep of Oregon State and Oregon last weekend.
  • The Sun Devils received one vote in the AP poll — from ESPN broadcaster
  • Dick Vitale
  • , who put them in the 25th spot, according to pollspeak.com.

Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4145 or ghansen@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @ghansen711

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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