Arizona guard Devonaire Doutrive (1) elbows his way through Arizona State forward Kimani Lawrence (14) in the second half of their Pac-12 game at Wells Fargo Arena, Thursday, January 31, 2019, Tempe, Ariz.

Just over a year after becoming the first spring recruit to join a needy Arizona Wildcats roster, Devonaire Doutrive is gone.

The rising sophomore will transfer from the program, according to Doutrive’s guardian, Laurian Watkins, putting the Wildcats back to the scholarship maximum of 13 players.

Arizona had been one over the limit after landing Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker earlier this month, even assuming that wing Brandon Randolph stays in professional basketball.

“He is looking for a spot that’s more suitable for him going forward,“ Watkins told the Star via text message. “U of A was awesome just not the best fit for him!”

The 6-foot-5-inch, 174-pound Doutrive averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds while playing in 26 of 32 games for the Wildcats last season, but showed flashes of potential and was one of the team‘s best offensive rebounders. On Feb. 28, Doutrive hit a rebound basket at the buzzer to give Arizona a 74-72 win at Oregon State, the last game the Wildcats won.

But just as much as Doutrive was known for that game-winner, and the bouncy athleticism that endeared him to many Arizona fans, he was also a crucial catalyst in Arizona’s restructured 2018 recruiting class.

Arizona initially lost all three of its fall commits — Jahvon Quinerly, Shareef O’Neal and Brandon Williams — in the wake of the federal investigation and an ESPN report that said UA coach Sean Miller discussed paying former UA star Deandre Ayton with an agent.

The Wildcats entered April 2018 with just six players lined up for the 2018-19 season, but Miller went to see Doutrive play just two days after Arizona’s season ended in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament— and Doutrive committed on April 7 out of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California.

Doutrive “was the first player to join us,” Miller said in May 2018. “And his family, there’s always a special place for them because at that moment when our season ended, we needed that first player to say yes, and he was that guy from Los Angeles.”

From there, the Wildcats received commitments from Pitt grad transfer Ryan Luther and Belgian high schooler Omar Thielemans later — then landed Samford grad transfer Justin Coleman before Williams recommitted in May 2018.

Suddenly, the Wildcats’ roster was full, and playing time would be difficult to find.

Thielemans did not play in the Red-Blue game and left the program shortly afterward, while Doutrive struggled to find a consistent role all season. He did not play at all in UA’s exhibition game against Division II Chaminade and in only 7 of 12 nonconference games.

Miller said in late December that the Wildcats were “now at a point where allowing him to grow and play more minutes makes a lot of sense,” and while Doutrive’s role expanded during Pac-12 play, he didn’t regularly play double-digit minutes until Williams missed a month with a late-season knee injury.

Carving out minutes could have been a challenge for Doutrive next season, too. Even with Randolph not expected to return from the pros, the Wildcats return Williams, senior Dylan Smith and junior Alex Barcello on the perimeter, while bringing in five-star guards Nico Mannion and Josh Green plus UC Irvine grad transfer guard Max Hazzard and four-star wing Terry Armstrong. Baker will sit out 2019-20 as a redshirt transfer.

While Doutrive is entering the transfer portal at a relatively late date, Watkins expressed optimism about the future for Doutrive and the Wildcats.

“Wishing U of A nothing but the best,” Watkins said. “They have put a solid recruiting class in addition to some good transfers. Everyone will be great on both sides.”

Reporter

Bruce is a veteran Star sports reporter who has also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He graduated from Northwestern University and has an MBA from Thunderbird.