Following a season that failed to meet high expectations, Arizona Basketball looks to rebound in 2020-21.
Last season did not go as many around Tucson had hoped for the Arizona Basketball team. Although for many teams a 21-11 record would signify a successful season that lived up to the hype, it seemed as though there were things left to be desired in Wildcats nation.
After bringing in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes headlined by Nico Mannion, Josh Green, and Zeke Nnaji, expectations were for the Wildcats to be near the top, if not at the top of the Pac-12 come seasons end. Obviously, the season was not finished but at the end of the regular season, the Wildcats sat in 5th in the standings. Not the end to the promising season they were looking for.
As an encore though, head coach Sean Miller has brought in another top recruiting class led by top-50 forward Dalen Terry. Four other 4-star prospects enter the fold as well with Miller continuing the foreign-born pipeline to Arizona coming with Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa, Daniel Batcho, and Bennedict Mathurin each from a different country.
Miller and the Wildcats are hoping that this talent will fill the void left by the team’s top three players from last year, all while also leading them to a Pac-12 championship. The return of big man Christian Koloko, Ira Lee, and Jemarl Baker Jr. will allow for a veteran presence to remain while the newcomers get acclimated to D-1 basketball.
These three could be the biggest keys to the Wildcats’ success this season though and this cannot be overlooked. While they were mostly overshadowed by Mannion, Green, and Nnaji last year, having players who have played a key role on a major conference team will give Coach Miller sort of a security blanket knowing that he won’t be throwing a lot of pressure on a lot of freshmen to begin the year.
On top of this, the Wildcats will throw Georgetown transfer James Akinjo into the mix. Akinjo, who was one of the top players during his time at Georgetown, will be able to come in and make an immediate impact. While he may not start to begin the year, don’t be surprised if you see him create a bigger impact in games than a starter may this year.
Although they have brought a lot of talent in, the Wildcats are still picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 this season. This could be underestimating the team a bit but there are a few keys to whether or not that ranking will prove to be true or not, so let’s dig into them.