After a thrilling run to the Sweet 16, the Arizona Wildcats were forced to pack their bags and start all over again. Despite all of the controversy currently surrounding the Wildcats-- regarding the Ed Rush scandal and the famous double-dribble and technical-foul call, Arizona is more focused on their future.
Unfortunately, the Cats will be missing five of their seniors next year including Mark Lyons, Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill. Of that group of seniors, Hill is the only one projected to be drafted in this upcoming NBA draft. The experts currently have Hill being selected somewhere between early and mid second round.
As for next season of Arizona Wildcat basketball, there are three outstanding freshman already committed to the university along with a transfer from Duquesne University who has been practicing with the Cats all season.
T.J. McConnell, a point guard from Duquesne was not allowed to play in any games this season due to the rules set by the NCAA prohibiting transfer players from playing in their first season at their new school. McConnell will be a junior next year and will have two years of eligibility under Coach Miller.
There was a very similar scenario last year with Mark Lyons transferring from Xavier to play his final year of college basketball. However, Lyons never had to sit out for a season. The reason being the Lyons had already graduated from Xavier, but was ineligible his freshman year meaning he was allowed to play one final season.
The Lyons/McConnell situation may actually be the best thing that could have happened for Arizona basketball. Having Lyons take over with his leadership on the court, while developing McConnell and getting him accustomed to their system may lead to the most success. Now, McConnell essentially holds the starting point guard position for the next two seasons and should be prepared to hit the ground running.
Then there are the big name incoming freshmen: Aaron Gordon (4th overall), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (16th overall), and Elliott Pitts (100th overall). The freshman power forward, small forward and shooting guard respectively, bring tremendous excitement to Tucson and continue the trend of making Arizona a championship contender. The Wildcats currently possess the fifth strongest recruiting class in the nation.
Although Arizona will be without its two leading scorers and their sixth man (first player off the bench), there is a lot of young talent and promise for the future. In fact, the Cats will have one of the youngest teams in the country and will likely not start either of their two seniors next season.
Wildcat fans everywhere should be ecstatic because Arizona basketball will be a powerhouse for years to come.