Greg Hansen: Old tale usually ends well for Wildcats

2013-04-19T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Old tale usually ends well for WildcatsGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Grant Jerrett is leaving school because he feared Aaron Gordon would get his shots, his minutes and his glory. That's it. It is the oldest and most familiar story in Arizona basketball.

Here's a good example: My friend, a former college basketball coach, often sits in the McKale Center section where families and friends of UA players are stationed. He would often call during the Brendon Lavender years and say "every time Lavender touched the ball last night, his dad would yell 'SHOOOOT!'"

Brendon Lavender. Career average: 3.4 points. SHOOOOT!

It was the same 20 years ago when Tony Clark, a high school stud of the ages from San Diego, arrived on campus and found Brian Williams and Chris Mills in his way.

Clark's posse, on campus and back home, would be in his ear every day. You should be playing more. You're getting ripped off. You're a star.

Tony Clark went home at mid-year. He ultimately became a wonderful major-league baseball player.

At the highest level of college basketball, drama reigns. If you're getting your shots, you stay and buy in. If you are Grant Jerrett, playing 17 minutes a game, with Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon in your face, you go home.

Lute Olson recruited 102 players to Arizona; 36 transferred. One in every three players he brought to McKale Center left, as Grant Jerrett, wanting more shots.

Luke Recker, a skilled two-guard, left when he got a look at Gilbert Arenas.

Will Bynum, who is still in the NBA, departed when Salim Stoudamire took his job.

Jarvis Kelley, who wound up at Rice, wasn't willing to play behind Joe Blair and Ben Davis.

Even in the brief time Sean Miller has been in Tucson - he has recruited 16 players - six didn't stick it out: Sidiki Johnson, Josiah Turner, Kyryl Natyazhko, Daniel Bejarano, MoMo Jones and now Grant Jerrett.

That's 37.5 percent early departures, which closely matches Olson's ratio of 35.3 percent. This will happen again in April of 2014 and April of 2015.

Players are disposable. Every time a Dennis Latimore transfers to Notre Dame because an Andre Iguodala signs up and takes his minutes, UA fans react with dread.

And yet Arizona always seems to trade-up: Chase Budinger for J.P. Prince, and Ed Stokes over Mark Georgeson.

In college basketball, you only need seven players on gameday, sometimes eight in a crisis. It's the Angelo Chol rule: At the elite level, a good prospect is going to sit on the bench and worry about his future.

The only troubling aspect of Grant Jerrett's withdrawal from Arizona is that he chose the wrong option. Had he paid attention during the NCAA tournament, when his team played in the same arena as Gonzaga, he would have noticed that Zags center Kelly Olynyk had become a consensus All-American and sure lottery pick because he was patient.

Two years ago, Olynyk was a 6-foot-11-inch, 220-pound sophomore averaging 5.8 points and 13 minutes a game at Gonzaga. He was miffed that he couldn't get in the lineup and, unlike his AAU days a few years earlier, he was no longer anyone's idea of a star.

Rather than retreat, Olynyk stayed at Gonzaga, redshirted, gained 15 pounds of muscle, refined his game, and upon returning scored 17.6 points a game. He was the best big man in college basketball.

Olynyk will get his payoff now, a key spot on an NBA roster, with probably $5 million, guaranteed, in his first two seasons. If Jerrett is drafted, it is likely to be as a second-rounder, with no guaranteed money, and a spot in the NBA D-League, at Rio Grande, Texas, or with the Maine Red Claws.

Those 700 days of growth guaranteed Olynyk's immediate future. Jerrett barely waited seven days to leave.

Jerrett's departure means that Arizona's player-leaves-for-greener-pasture theatrics have at last come full circle. In 1985, Eric Cooper arrived at Arizona as a hot-shot prospect from Los Angeles.

But Cooper couldn't take minutes from Steve Kerr, Kenny Lofton or Craig McMillan. In fact, Cooper scored just 1.7 points per game over two seasons.

A year later, the Wildcats signed Harvey Mason and Jud Buechler, Cooper transferred to Texas-San Antonio. He found his place.

Now, with Cooper, Jerrett's high school coach, orchestrating from the background, Jerrett is about to find his level, too.

If you can get Aaron Gordon, even if it costs you a good kid and strong prospect like Grant Jerrett, it's a trade you make every time.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington 3 4 0 0.429 14 5 0 0.737
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
Oregon at
Arizona State
1/30 6:00 pm
Oregon State at
1/30 8:00 pm
Stanford at
Washington State
1/31 6:00 pm
Colorado at
1/31 8:30 pm
Utah at
2/1 12:30 pm
California at
2/1 1:00 pm
Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Deals, offers & events

View more...