Throughout the course of the off-season I will release my season’s preview for each Power 5 team. I will start out west with the PAC-12 teams and the work my way east. These previews will be very simple but a nice guide for the casual college basketball fans to become aware of some of the new faces and up and coming teams for the 2017-2018 season.
Season Preview: Arizona Wildcats
Last Season: 32-5, Elite Eight
Key Losses: Kobi Simmons, Chance Comanche, Kadeem Allen, Lauri Markanen
Key Additions: DeAndre Ayton, Alex Barcello, Emmanual Akot, Ira Lee, Brandon Randolph
Last season, every college basketball writer was asking “Is this the year Northwestern gets into the tournament?”. Well this year the question of the year will be “Is this the year Arizona gets past the Elite 8?” Sean Miller has one of the most talented teams in the country coming into the year and will need to get the monkey off his back in order to have a successful season.
Lauri Markanen is gone but Miller has another talented shooting big in DeAndre Ayton coming in. Kobi Simmons is gone but Brandon Randolph is ready to step in and provide that bench spark that Simmons did a year ago. The core of Rawle Alkins, Allonzo Trier, and Dusan Ristic all return looking to grow on last year’s Elite 8. All three players will play in the NBA in the future. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is extremely underrated and often times forgot about but his ball protection and distribution are key to the success of the Wildcats.
I have been very high on Trier and Alkins since both were in high school and believe that with a full season of Trier and Ayton working together, the Wildcats will get to the Final Four. The PAC-12 is way down this year with both UCLA and Oregon taking major steps back so the door is open for Arizona to dominate in league play and build a quality resume.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Parker Jackson-Cartwright
SG: Rawle Alkins
SF: Allonzo Trier
PF: Dusan Ristic
C: DeAndre Ayton