Freshman forward Grant Jerrett is joining part of the Arizona Wildcats’ practice today and may play Sunday against California, UA coach Sean Miller said today.
Miller said Jerrett has been making progress with what he has described as a low-grade stress reaction in his left foot.
“He’s virtually pain-free,” Miller said. “When he does some activity it gets sore but it goes away, which is a good sign.”
Miller said Jerrett has been able to do some non-weight-bearing conditioning work already, and will practice partially today and more substantially Saturday if he does not have a setback. If he is still OK in Sunday’s pregame shootaround, Miller said, he will play against the Bears.
“I anticipate Grant playing,” Miller said. “If he doesn’t play, then from this period of time to the game he would have to experience, not necessarily a setback but for whatever reason, pain. He’s making progress and we have a firm grip on his situation.
“We fully expect Grant to rejoin us for the long haul and have the same or similar role that he’s always had. It’s just that we wanted to make sure initially that we knew exactly what was going on with his foot and that the pain that he would have would start to decrease, which it has.”
Miller wouldn’t say whether he would change his starting lineup for Sunday – most likely inserting Kevin Parrom and sliding Solomon Hill to power forward, with one of the big men out – although he’s likely to use a smaller lineup at times against Cal as he did with Stanford.
The reason Miller is considering a change is the fact that UA has started slowly in three of its past five games, to UCLA, Washington and Stanford. But he also knows the Wildcats are 18-1 with their current starting five (UA’s only other loss came when Parrom started in place of Brandon Ashley at Oregon).
“One of the things we have to make sure of is that we’re putting five guys out there at the beginning of the game who can perform and give us a good start,” Miller said. “I’m going big picture. I think I have the answer that those guys have done very well through the course of a season but recently they have not and we have to address it. I’m not sure if we’ll address it prior to this game or not… At this point I’m not prepared to say whether we’ll start the same five or not.”
Although the Wildcat took sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 when Colorado beat Oregon on Thursday, Miller said the Wildcats are not focusing on others and the Pac-12 race as much as themselves.
“There’s no given we can win the championship but we want to be one of those teams that’s vying for it,” Miller said. “The way we do that is not to get caught up in anything you can’t control.
“If Oregon had beaten Colorado last night that has no bearing on how we’re going to play on Sunday against Cal,” Miller said. “That’s something we can control, today and tomorrow, in getting ready for them. That focus is going to have us have the best chance to get there.”
Miller said Nick Johnson is “100 percent” recovered from a virus that struck him at Washington State last Saturday and kept him weak on Wednesday against Stanford. Johnson had just eight points over those two games but made defensive contributions.