You are the owner of this article.
History reveals Arizona's best teams had superb mesh of All-American freshmen, seasoned vets

History reveals Arizona's best teams had superb mesh of All-American freshmen, seasoned vets

1994 Arizona Wildcats Final Four basketball team

Khalid Reeves jukes Missouri guard Mark Atkins in the Cats' 92-72 win that pushed them to the Final Four in 1994.

Thirty years ago, earning McDonald's All-American honors didn't carry the same weight it does today. 

For instance, Khalid Reeves, one of the most the prolific scorers in UA history and record-holder for most single-season points (848) in 1994, was a McDonald's All-American in 1990, but came off the bench as a freshman while Matt Muehlebach started in front of him. 

“I just think the experience factor is hard. It’s hard to imagine,” Muehlebach told the Star this week. “I always tell people I started ahead of Khalid Reeves, and Khalid was clearly better than me. But I was a senior and that’s probably why I started. He was learning the ropes and we had a bunch of older guys.”

Now? Playing in the McDonald's All-American game is a one-way ticket to starting at whichever school the player is committed to. 

This year's Arizona squad relies on three freshmen: point guard Nico Mannion, uber-athletic wing Josh Green and forward Zeke Nnaji. But the Wildcats have an inconsistent supporting cast of veterans, which includes a streaky Dylan Smith, transfers Jemarl Baker, Max Hazzard and Stone Gettings, Ira Lee and Chase Jeter, who's only played two minutes since the UA's road loss to Oregon State on Jan. 12. 

History shows Arizona's best teams pieced together a rotation of All-American freshmen and experienced — and consistent — veterans. 


2019-20: G Nico Mannion (14.0 ppg, 5.5 apg), F Josh Green (11.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg)

Starting lineup: Two seniors, three freshmen

Leading scorer: F Zeke Nnaji, Fr. (16.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg)

Other key starter: F Stone Gettings, Sr. (6.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

Team record: 16-7 (6-4 Pac-12) to date


Arizona's forward Deandre Ayton during the first half of a first-round game against Buffalo in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

2017-18: C Deandre Ayton (20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg)

Starting lineup: Two seniors, one junior, one sophomore, one freshman (Ayton)

Leading scorer: Ayton

Other key starters: G Allonzo Trier, Jr. (18.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg), C Dusan Ristic, Sr. (12.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg), G Rawle Alkins, So. (13.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)

Team finish: 27-8 (14-4 Pac-12, first), NCAA Tournament first round


Arizona Wildcats guard Kobi Simmons (2) gets pumped in the first half during a game at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday January 21, 2017. Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star

2016-17:  G Kobi Simmons (8.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg)

Starting lineup: One senior, one junior, one sophomore, two freshmen

Leading scorer: F Lauri Markkanen, Fr. (15.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg)

Other key starters: G Allonzo Trier, So. (17.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), G Kadeem Allen, Sr. (9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Team finish: 32-5 (16-2 Pac-12, tie first), NCAA Tournament Sweet 16


Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller has some words with Arizona Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier (11) in the second half during a game at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., on Nov. 22, 2015. Arizona won 61-42. Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star

2015-16: G Allonzo Trier (14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Starting lineup: Three seniors, one junior, Trier

Leading scorer: F Ryan Anderson (15-3 ppg, 10.1 rpg)

Other key starters: G Gabe York (15.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg), C Kaleb Tarczewski, Sr. (9.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg)

Team finish: 25-9 (12-6 Pac-12, fourth), NCAA Tournament first round


Arizona forward Stanley Johnson (5) lets out a roar after a two-handed jam during the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State men's college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

2014-15: G Stanley Johnson (13.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

Starting lineup: One senior, two juniors, one sophomore, Johnson

Leading scorer: Johnson

Other key starters: F Brandon Ashley, Jr. (12.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G T.J. McConnell, Sr. (10.4 ppg, 6.3 apg)

Team finish: 34-4 (16-2 Pac-12, first), NCAA Tournament Elite Eight


Arizona forward Aaron Gordon (11) roars after a dunk during the first half of the University of Arizona vs. Gonzaga game at the NCAA basketball tournament at San Diego State University on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Arizona won 84-61, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

2013-14: F Aaron Gordon (12.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg), F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (9.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

Starting lineup: Two juniors, two sophomores, one freshman (Gordon)

Leading scorer: G Nick Johnson, Jr. (16.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg)

Other key starter: F Brandon Ashley, So. (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Team finish: 33-5 (15-3 Pac-12, first), NCAA Tournament Elite Eight


University of Arizona players Grant Jerrett, left, and Brandon Ashley, are take a break as the Wildcats called a time out near the end of the game during a PAC-12 conference game against California on Sunday February 10, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona at McKale Center. Photo by Benjie Sanders/Arizona Daily Star

2012-13: F Brandon Ashley (7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), F Grant Jerrett (5.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

Starting lineup: Three seniors, one sophomore, Jerrett

Leading scorer: G Mark Lyons, Sr. (15.6 ppg, 2.8 apg),

Other key starters: F Solomon Hill, Sr. (13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), G Nick Johnson, So. (11.5 ppg, 3.2 apg)

Team finish: 27-8 (12-6 Pac-12, tie second), NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen


Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless drives around West Virginia forward Wellington Smith in the second half during the first round of the NCAA tournament at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Wednesday Mar. 20, 2008. 

2007-08: G Jerryd Bayless (19.7 ppg, 4.0 apg)

Starting lineup: One senior, three sophomores, one freshman

Leading scorer: Bayless

Other key starters: F Chase Budinger, So. (17.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), C Jordan Hill, So. (13.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Team finish: 0-14** (0-10 Pac-10, seventh), NCAA Tournament first round**

** All wins and NCAA Tournament appearance vacated because of NCAA violations. UA was 19-15 overall and 8-10 in conference before sanctions.


Oregon's #4 Bryce Taylor, who scored Oregon's game high 18 points, can't look at Arizona's Chase Budinger after Budinger tied the game at 66 in the second half at McArthur Court Feb. 10, 2007.

2006-07: F Chase Budinger (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Starting lineup: Two seniors, one sophomore, two freshmen

Leading scorer: F Marcus Williams, So. (16.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

Other key starters: C Ivan Radenovic, Sr. (15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg), G Mustafa Shakur, Sr. (11.9 ppg, 6.9 apg)

Team finish: 20-11 (11-7 Pac-10, tie third), NCAA Tournament first round


UA's Jawann McClellan drives during the Red and Blue Scrimmage game at McKale Center on Oct. 31, 2004.

2004-05: G Jawann McClellan (5.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

Starting lineup: Two seniors, one junior, two sophomores

Leading scorer: G Salim Stoudamire, Sr. (18.4 ppg, 50.4 3FG%)

Other key starters: C Channing Frye, Sr. (15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), G Hassan Adams, Jr. (12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg).

Team finish: 30-7 (15-3 Pac-10, first), NCAA Tournament Elite Eight


Arizona's Mustafa Shakur guards Utah's Tim Drisdom during a game at McKale Center, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004. Photo by Chris Richards / Arizona Daily Star.

2003-04: G Mustafa Shakur (9.4 ppg, 4.5 apg)

Starting lineup: Two juniors, two sophomores, one freshman

Leading scorer: G Hassan Adams, So. (17.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg),

Other key starters: C Channing Frye, Jr. (15.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg), G Salim Stoudamire, Jr. (16.3 ppg, 41.3 3FG%), F Andre Iguodala, So. (12.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg)

Team finish: 20-10 (11-7 Pac-10, third), NCAA Tournament first round


UA's Salim Stoudamire, left, gets congrats from Hassan Adams with just seconds remaining in the second half as UA defeated Oregon in Eugene. Stoudamire had 27 points in the game on Jan. 20, 2005.

2002-03: G Hassan Adams (9.1 ppg 3.4 rpg)

Starting lineup: Three seniors, two sophomores

Leading scorer: G Jason Gardner, So. (20.4 ppg, 4.6 apg)

Other key starters: C Channing Frye, So. (12.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg), G Salim Stoudamire, So. (13.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg), F Luke Walton, Sr. (10.8 ppg, 5.1 apg)

Team finish: 28-4 (17-1 Pac-10, first), NCAA Tournament Elite Eight


A happy Jason Gardner (center) gets congratulated by coach Lute Olson (right) and Luke Walton (left) after the game win over Notre Dame. Photo by David Sanders. #100723. 3/27/03

1999-00: G Jason Gardner (12.6 ppg, 4.8 apg)

Starting lineup: One junior, two sophomores, two freshmen

Leading scorer: C Loren Woods, Jr. (15.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg),

Other key starters: F Michael Wright, So. (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg), G Gilbert Arenas, Fr. (15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg)

Team finish: 27-7 (15-3 Pac-10, tie first), NCAA Tournament second round


UA basketball player Richard Jefferson shoots during the Nov. 25, 1998 game against Texas at McKale Center.

1998-99: F Richard Jefferson (11.0 ppg)

Starting lineup: Two seniors, three freshmen

Leading scorer: G Jason Terry, Sr. (21.9 ppg)

Other key starters: C A.J. Bramlett, Sr. (14.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg), F Michael Wright, Fr. (13.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg)

Team finish: 22-6* (13-5 Pac-10, second), NCAA first round*

• Record reduced by NCAA Tournament loss to Oklahoma because tournament appearance vacated due to NCAA infractions


Arizona's backcourt of Mike Bibby and Miles Simon celebrate the Wildcats' overtime win against Kentucky in the 1997 national championship. 

1996-97: G Mike Bibby (13.5 ppg, 5.2 apg)

Starting lineup: Three juniors, one sophomore, Bibby

Leading scorer: F Michael Dickerson (18.9 ppg)

Other key starters: G Miles Simon (18.4 ppg)

Team finish: 25-9 (11-7 Pac-10, fifth), NCAA Tournament champions


Arizona guard Khalid Reeves against Providence at McKale Center in Tucson on Dec. 23, 1990. Mari Schaefer / Arizona Daily Star 

1990-91: G Khalid Reeves

Starting lineup: One senior, three juniors, one sophomore.

Leading scorer: F Chris Mills, So. (15.6 ppg)

Other key starters: Brian Williams, Jr. (14.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg),

Team finish: 28-7 (14-4 Pac-10, first), NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen


Sean Elliott answers questions during an interview in 1988. Arizona Daily Star file photo

1985-86: F Sean Elliott (19.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Starting lineup: One senior, one junior, one sophomore, two freshmen

Leading scorer: Elliott

Other key starters: G Steve Kerr, Jr. (14.4 ppg), G Craig McMillan, So. (11.8), C John Edgar, Sr. (11.1 ppg)

Team finish: 23-9 (14-4 Pac-10, first), NCAA Tournament first round


Senior guard Craig McMillan

1984-85: Craig McMillan (5.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg)

Starting lineup: Four seniors, one sophomore

Leading scorer: F Eddie Smith, Sr. (16.1 ppg)

Other key starters: C Pete Williams, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg), G Steve Kerr, So. (10.0 ppg, 4.0 apg)

Team finish: 21-10 (12-6 Pac-10, tie third), NCAA Tournament first round

Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or bpascoe@tucson.com. On Twitter @brucepascoe

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Sports producer

Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News