NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona WIldcats reacts against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches Vs Cancer at Madison Square Garden on November 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Arizona Basketball: Sidiki Johnson Officially Leaves Program

The team is hungry after an elite eight appearance and the incoming freshmen class is among the best in the nation.

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51 Total Updates since October 12, 2011
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Arizona Wildcats Basketball Midseason Report Card

How have the 9-4 Wildcats performed this season? We break it down.

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Arizona Wildcats Shut Down Clemson Tigers In Biggest Victory Of The Season

Despite taking the loss to Florida earlier in the week, many felt it was the best game the Arizona Wildcats had played this season. After a quick turnaround on Saturday afternoon against a quality opponent in the Clemson Tigers, UA stepped up once again and continued to improve by leaps and bounds. The Wildcats led for all 40 minutes and came away with a 63-47 victory.

It was a balanced scoring effort from Arizona against Clemson and the team was led by freshman Nick Johnson, who scored 14 points, many of which came with highlight reel dunks. Solomon Hill continued to be the best player on the team, going for 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Kyle Fogg played stellar defense throughout the game and ended with eight points, four assists and seven rebounds.

Josiah Turner, who was playing for the first time in seven days after serving a one game suspension, was sloppy at times, but he continues to improve on a game-by-game basis. The young point guard scored six points, dished out two assists and brought down five rebounds. Angelo Chol had the best game of his career, and while his stat line looks rather pedestrian (5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block in 13 minutes), it seemed like the lanky freshman always had an answer when his team called upon him.

Clemson shot 19-for-60 from the field, 4-for-19 from behind the arc, and only shot five free throws. Of their 47 points, Andre Young scored 19, while big man Devin Booker scored nine points and brought in five rebounds. 

This was a big game for Arizona and they responded with their best team effort of the year. With finals week looming, the team will get a chance to recover somewhat before hitting the road once again to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Seattle.

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Arizona Basketball Suspends Josiah Turner For Showdown With Florida Gators

The Arizona Wildcats entered this season with four heralded freshmen, all of whom expected to have long, prolific careers with the program. Just two months into their careers in Tucson, one has been kicked off the team (Sidiki Johnson) and another has been suspended twice. From the official release:

TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona men's basketball player Josiah Turner has been suspended for Wednesday's game at Florida due to violations of team policy.

"Josiah will not play in Wednesday's game at Florida," said UA head coach Sean Miller. "We will meet with him when we return to campus to discuss what his obligations to this program are moving forward."

A 6-foot-3 freshman guard from Sacramento, Calif., Turner has appeared in seven games for the Wildcats this season.

The Wildcats (6-2) return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 12th-ranked Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

Not good at all. And this comes just a few hours after coach Miller praised Turner in his weekly press conference for making big strides both on and off the court. There has been no talk of suspending Turner for anything more than the UF game, but to say the freshman point guard is on thin ice would be an understatement.

For more on UA Hoops, check out Arizona Desert Swarm.

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Sidiki Johnson Officially Leaves Arizona Wildcats Basketball; What Does This Mean For UA Recruiting?

After being suspended indefinitely last week for violating the team code of conduct, Sidiki Johnson has officially left the program. A freshman out of the Bronx, Johnson had struggled comprehending the team concept at the college level and his schoolwork suffered as well. Coach Miller gave him every chance to reclaim his spot on the roster, but the 19-year old packed his bags on Saturday evening and will not return to Tucson.

"University of Arizona head men's basketball coach Sean Miller today announced that Sidiki Johnson has left the program with the intention of transferring to another institution.

Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound, freshman forward from the Bronx, N.Y., has made three appearances for the Wildcats this season.

The Wildcats (6-2) return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 10th-ranked Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on ESPN."

Going forward, the departure of Johnson gives Miller and the coaching staff some flexibility on the recruiting trail. With two forwards (Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett), a center (Kaleb Tarczewski) and just one guard (Gabe York) committed for 2012, expect to hear the name Amedeo Della Valle a lot in the coming months. The 6'4 combo guard recently came over from Europe and has starred at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep alongside Ashley.

Best of luck wherever you go, Sidiki. We hardly knew 'ye, but this move is probably for the best.

For more on the Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm. 

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Arizona vs. NAU Preview: Wildcats Look To Dominate Struggling Lumberjacks

With a big game against Florida looming, the Wildcats will look to win convincingly against the struggling Lumberjacks.

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Arizona vs. New Mexico State Score: Wildcat Freshmen Step Up In Huge Road Victory

The Arizona Wildcats were at a crossroads on Tuesday night. After two straight losses and the roughest stretch of schedule approaching, a road win over the New Mexico St. Aggies was critical. It wasn't pretty for the full 40 minutes, but UA was able to come away with a 83-76 victory.

Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson, two of the most heralded freshmen to ever arrive in Tucson, had huge games. Turner had the best performance of his career and scored 12 points, brought in six rebonds and dished out four assists. He fouled out and committed four turnovers, but the Wildcats were a completely different team when the point guard was on the floor. Nick Johnson scored 19 points in the first start of his career and threw down multiple highlight reel dunks in front of a sellout crowd in Las Cruces.

Jesse Perry continued to be a double-double threat and ended the night with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Solomon Hill also had the best game of his season, contributing with 12 points, six rebounds and a team-high seven assists. Hill is undoubtably the best player on the team and the strides he has made since last season are remarkable.

New Mexico State was led by Wendell McKines, who scored 28 points in 31 minutes of play. Christian Kabongo recorded 15 points, while Hamidu Rahman dominated the paint with 13 points and eight rebounds.

This Wildcat team remains a work in progress, but this is a huge win for the program. UA will return home and take on the NAU Lumberjacks on Saturday afternoon.

For more on the Wildcats win, visit AZ Desert Swarm.


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Arizona vs. New Mexico State Score Update: Wildcats Lead After Wild Half Of Play

After a half of play, the Arizona Wildcats lead the New Mexico St. Aggies by a score of 44-40. The first twenty minutes featured plenty of 3's, high-flying dunks, and (maybe) three defensive stops. UA seemingly outplayed NMSU for most of the half, but the team was unable to pull away and will have a fight on their hands in the second half.

Nick Johnson, who is made the first start of his career, leads the Wildcats with nine points and Solomon Hill has done a little bit of everything with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Hill picked up his third foul late in the half. Jesse Perry has been a force in the paint, scoring seven points and bringing in four rebounds. And in news no one saw coming, Kyryl Natyazhko hit two jumpers coming off the bench.

New Mexico State raced out to an early 10-2 lead, but they faltered once the bench came in. Wendell McKines leads the way with 13 points and has his three 3's thus far. The Aggies' two big men, Hamidu Rahman and Tshilidzi Nephawe, have dominated in the paint and combined for 13 points and eight rebounds.

Arizona is clearly the more talented team, but it will come down to which team digs in on defense for the second half. If the Wildcats don't make adjustments, they could fall for the third consecutive time.

For more on the game, head on over to AZ Desert Swarm.

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Arizona Wildcats Basketball: Sidiki Johnson Suspended Indefinitely

According to multiple reports on Monday night, Sean Miller has suspended freshman forward Sidiki Johnson indefinitely for a violation of team rules. No further details were given by the university nor was a suspension length announced, but it is safe to say Johnson will not be eligible for Wednesday's crucial game against San Diego State.

Johnson, who was among the first players to commit to UA once Miller took over the program, has seldom played this season and has drawn the ire of his coaching staff for selfish play on the court. He has played a total of seven minutes and only saw playing time in three of Arizona's first five games.

With a stellar recruiting class of post players coming to Arizona next season, Johnson's future with the program has to be in doubt at this time. Hopefully Sidiki can work through his issues with the coaching staff and his teammates and return to the court sooner rather than later.

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Arizona Falls Apart In Second Half Against Mississippi State As Team Falls 67-57

The Arizona Wildcats hung in with the Mississippi State Bulldogs for 30 minutes of play. UA was finding open shots, rebounding relatively well and avoided the silly turnovers that had plagued them throughout most of the year. And despite never claiming a lead, you still had the sense the team was going to rally.

Then the final ten minutes of the game happened. Arizona fell apart, while Mississippi State took off.

With 10:01 left to play, Kevin Parrom hit a 3 from the corner to make the score 52-48. After that shot, the Wildcats went 2-for-11 from the field the rest of the way. They turned the ball over four times, while the Bulldogs started hitting shots, attacking the boards and running down the clock.

After hitting 14 threes on Thursday, Arizona made six this evening. After making 19 free throws against St. John's, they made five against the Bulldogs.

Solomon Hill (12 points, nine rebounds) and Jesse Perry (11 points, 10 rebounds) did their part, but a majority of the guards and wings did not find their shot against a stout MSST defense. Jordin Mayes hit a few shots early, but foul trouble kept him off the court for most of the second half.

Mississippi State was led by power forward Arnett Moultrie. The big man could not be stopped in the paint and ended with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs used a balanced scoring attack to their advantage, having seven players score six or more points.

This is a tough loss for the Wildcats, but they will continue to improve. Tonight the team learned that living and dying from behind the arc is not a recipe for success. Sean Miller and the coaching staff will make adjustments. We'll be fine.

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Arizona vs. St John's Final Score: Wildcats Win Thriller 81-72 Over Red Storm

The Arizona Wildcats stepped up when it mattered most on Thursday night and used 14 three-pointers as they won 81-72 over the St. John's Red Storm.

In what was one of the more entertaining games in recent history, Arizona saw five players score double-digits and played a total of 11 on the night. Solomon Hill led the way 15 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Jesse Perry came up a rebound short of a double-double.

Kyle Fogg and Nick Johnson each hit three 3's and Josiah Turner played his best game as a Wildcat. Playing just a few minutes away from his childhood home -- and the area he sustained a gunshot wound just two months ago -- Kevin Parrom chipped in for six points, four rebounds and three assists against the Johnnies.

St. John's took an eight point lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. Instead of crumbling under the bright lights, Arizona dug in on defense and refused to lose. They converted all six of their free throws in the closing minutes.

The Red Storm battled for most of the game, but their inexperience and a lack of depth would eventually cost them the game. Steve Lavin played just seven players, and leading scorer Nurideen Lindsey fouled out late in the contest. D'angelo Harrison chipped in for 16 points, while Phil Greene and Moe Harkless combined for 25 off the bench.

In our game preview, we said whichever team gets better play out of their power forward would win. Jesse Perry scored 11 points -- seven in the second half -- hauled in nine rebounds and had three blocks. God'sgift Achiuwa scored four points and brought down only four rebounds. Perry won the battle and his team won because of it.

UA will face Mississippi State on Friday night in the 2K Sports Classic championship game. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in New York, which is 4:30 in Tucson. The game will be shown on ESPN2.

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Arizona vs. St John's: Wildcats Preparing For Big Test In Madison Square Garden

Arizona will be challenged by St. John's this evening. We have a breakdown of the game, TV coverage, a few predictions and more...

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Arizona vs. Duquesne Final Score: Wildcats Win 67-59 Behind Jordin Mayes and Jesse Perry

For the second game in a row, the Arizona Wildcats needed a big second half in order to get past a quality mid-major opponent. Thanks to huge performances from Jordin Mayes and Jesse Perry, UA came away with a 67-59 victory over the Duquesne Dukes.

Mayes, for the second night in a row, stole the show in the second half and hit three huge three-pointers that changed the complexity of the game. He finished the evening with a career-high 19 points and will likely continue to start over Josiah Turner, who is still learning the college game.

Perry recorded his second double-double in as many games and continues to be a solid force in the paint for the Wildcats. Sean Miller praised Perry in his post-game interview and called the strides he has made since joining the team last season "remarkable". 

Angelo Chol did not start the game, though he played in favor of Kyryl Natyazhko throughout most of the contest. Chol finished with six points and eight rebounds and was able to disrupt multiple shots around the basket. He may not start in the next game, but one has to believe he will be the starting center sooner rather than later.

Arizona trailed 32-30 at halftime and the two teams were evenly matchup until midway through the second half. Brendon Lavender ignited a rally with a three pointer and the 'Cats did not look back after that. The game certainly wasn't pretty for all 40 minutes, but this team continues to improve and the potential is there.

The next time Arizona will take the court will be Sunday afternoon against Ball State. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. from Tucson.

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Arizona Wildcats Defeat Valparaiso Crusaders 73-64 In Season Opener

After a shaky first half of play, the Arizona Wildcats used a big second half to propel themselves to a 73-64 victory over the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Senior guard Kyle Fogg led the team with 16 points and Jesse Perry earned the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds. In his first game as a Wildcat, freshman Nick Johnson converted eight free throws in route to a 14 point, six assist game.

Arizona started off slowly and struggled with turnovers until finding their grove late in the first half. With a lead of just 32-30 at the half, the 'Cats scored 41 in the second half and gradually pulled away. The final score was closer than the game actually was; UA led by 20 points with just over four minutes to go and late free throws and three pointers inched the Crusaders back into the game during the final seconds.

While Perry, Fogg and Johnson led in scoring, it was the second half performances of Jordin Mayes and freshman Angelo Chol that stole the show. Mayes converted two three-point shots and finished the game with eight points after failing to score in the first 20 minutes. Chol's stat line is not overly impressive -- 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 5 fouls in 23 minutes -- but his defensive impact was felt all game with four steals and solid rotations around the basket.

With Kyryl Natyazhko battling foul trouble and the inability to be an effective offensive player, Chol could be the starting center sooner rather than later. And while some believe freshman Sidiki Johnson should continue to get chances to contribute, Sean Miller had a very telling quote after the game.

"Hopefully he can work to get better," said Miller, "but I'm not counting on it." 

Those are big words from a head coach and he has made it known he was not happy with Johnson's progress thus far. UA can only hope Sidiki takes this criticism and uses it to make great strides in practice the next few weeks. The team needs his size and strength in the paint.

There were rough patches for Arizona throughout the game, but the season opener should be viewed as a success. 

Next Up: The Wildcats have just one day of practice before returning to McKale to face the Duquesne Dukes. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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Preseason College Basketball Rankings, Top 25: Arizona Remains 16th in Both AP and USA Today Polls

As we inch closer and closer to the start of the NCAA basketball season, the AP and USA Today preseason rankings continue to shift ever so slightly as we head to the opening tip of the 2011-12 season, though the Arizona Wildcats are representing the West and holding strong.  

North Carolina and Kentucky are the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in both the AP and USA Today polls, with the Tar Heels getting a staggering amount of first place votes in both. In fact, the top seven schools mirror each other in both of the polls, with Ohio State, Connecticut, Syracuse, Duke, and Vanderbilt rounding out the top seven. 

The Arizona Wildcats remain the top-seeded school from the West, sitting strong at No. 16 in both polls. The UCLA Bruins sit next at No. 17 in the AP and 20th in the USA Today, followed by Gonzaga (No. 23) and the Cal Golden Bears (No. 24). These four are the only Western schools in the preseason top 25. 

For more on Arizona Wildcat basketball, head over to Arizona Desert Swarm to get in on the action. 

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Arizona Loses 69-68 To Seattle Pacific In Exhibition Game

Arizona lost an exhibition game for the first time since 1984 on Thursday night, falling to Seattle Pacific University by a score of 69-68. The Wildcats trailed by double digits throughout most of the game and mounted a late rally that would eventually fall short.

The ultimate downfall for 'Zona came in the paint. Kyryl Natyazhko and Sidiki Johnson combined for two rebounds in forty minutes of play. SPU could not be stopped around the basket and came away with multiple uncontested layups in the final minutes of the contest.

UA committed 12 turnovers, missed countless layups, and shot just 66.6-percent from the free throw line. And while the ratio seems better now than it was throughout the game, this team needs to shoot better than 6-for-17 from behind the arc if they hope to make a run in conference play and the NCAA tournament.

Technically, this game does not mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. The loss to a Division-II opponent will hurt for a few days, but no one will remember this in a week or so outside of Tucson. Seattle Pacific is a very good team and they will compete for a national championship this season.

The loss still stings, though. 

Sean Miller was visibly frustrated in his post-game press conference and went as far to say this was not a very good team right now. This may be true, but one must remember Arizona has had just 11 days of practice thus far. Be upset with the loss, but do not go jumping off any bridges.

The Wildcats will be fine.

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Arizona Wildcats Red-Blue Game Recap: Freshmen, Seniors Impress In Scrimmage

With a sellout crowd of 14,000 fans in attendance, Arizona's Red-Blue Game was a special event on Saturday afternoon. Here is a recap of the festivities and the scrimmage:

Player Introductions:

Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Williams and Jason Terry were all honored, among others. Every former Wildcat received a huge ovation, with the roof nearly coming off as Williams was announced.

Once the NBA stars came onto the floor, the 2011-2012 Arizona Wildcats were announced. Here is a video of the introductions:


Pretty cool.

Dunk Contest:

Once the players were announced and warmed up, five players entered the dunk contest: Brendon Lavender, Angelo Chol, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson. Despite some pretty sweet dunks from every participant, it was the freshman Nick Johnson who won the contest. He earned the nickname "Bunnies" in high school and UA fans quickly learned why on Saturday.

Arizona Basketball Never Stops:

SB Nation Arizona said on Friday that UA would be receiving a court-size banner at the Red-Blue Game. The school unveiled it and it was awesome. Only a few programs in the nation have a similar banner.

Here is my -- ahem -- amateur photograph of the sign:

Abns_medium

And no, that is not Lute Olson sitting in front of me.

Budinger and Williams Honored:

Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams both received framed jerseys and their names were put into the Ring of Honor, which sits above the court.

Jason Terry Honored:

At halftime, Jason Terry, who was a member of Arizona's 1997 championship team, was honored for winning a championship with the Dallas Mavericks. He was accompanied with his family and wore an awesome half white/half blue jersey with his famous knee-high socks.

Game Recap and Impressions:

Red Team starters: Kyle Fogg, Kyryl Natyazhko, Jesse Perry, Brendon Lavender, Josiah Turner.

Blue Team starters:  Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes, Solomon Hill, Sidiki Johnson, Angelo Chol.

Josiah Turner looked like how most would expect a true freshman point guard to look. His passes were crisp and his ability to push the offense was impressive. His jump shot will continue to improve over the year, as will his decision making. He's going to be a good one, folks.

One of the most impressive performances came from Nick Johnson. He started off the game with a bang with an incredible one hand put-back dunk and hit three 3-pointers on the day. His defense was as good as advertised and he even ran point guard for a while. He may not start to begin the season, but Johnson is going to be an absolute stud.

Angelo Chol hit a few jumpers and looked solid around the basket. His presence was felt on the defensive end with multiple blocks, though he will need to bulk up to stop larger post players.

Sidiki Johnson was very impressive and was the best post player on the floor. He ended with a team-high 18 points and did not miss a single one of his seven shots. Not known for his shooting in high school, the big man even hit two 3-pointers. Conditioning, avoiding foul trouble and free throws are still something to improve on, but Johnson surpassed all expectations today.

As the only returning point guard on the roster, Jordin Mayes looked like the player that earned him a ton of playing time last season. He pushed the offensive tempo, hit open teammates with a pass and made quite a few jumpers. He showed no signs of struggle with his surgically repaired foot.

Kyle Fogg was his usual self at the Red-Blue Game; he scored the ball, played stellar defense and delivered smooth passes time and time again. Brendon Lavender was on fire from behind the arc and really looks like a man determined to have a big senior season. Consistency has always been the issue with B-Lav, but his jump shot looked smooth on Saturday. 

Solomon Hill continued to impress on both sides of the ball and is in the best shape of his career. He will be counted on throughout the season to be a leader and looks primed to have a breakout year in 2011-2012. 

A player who many feel is the key to this season, Kyryl Natyazhko finished with 13 points, five rebounds and about three million fouls. If he can avoid foul trouble, he appears to be Arizona's starting center to begin the season. Practice and scrimmages have never been an issue for Natyazhko, though.

Jesse Perry was excellent on both sides of the floor and will likely lead the team in rebounding. He scored around the basket, with his midrange jumper and hit three 3-pointers. For a player who was pretty unheralded in junior college, Perry looks primed for a big senior season.

Finally, Kevin Parrom was dressed out, but he did not participate in the scrimmage. Sean Miller suggested after the game that Parrom would not redshirt this year, but he would miss at least the first few games of the season. 

Final Thoughts:

It was an incredible atmosphere today and the many recruits in attendance had to come away very impressed. The team played well and UA fans have to be excited for the season to begin. 

Arizona will play two exhibition games before starting the regular season on November 7. The first exhibition game will be played Thursday night at 6 p.m. against Seattle Pacific University.

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Arizona Basketball Red-Blue Game: Start Time, Online Stream, Guest List And More

Arizona basketball is back. Finally.

After the incredible run in March Madness last season, the team is ready to get the year started. Will Jesse Perry, Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender step up as seniors? Will the "Fantastic Four" -- otherwise known as Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson -- have a major impact as so many expect them to do?

UA fans may not get the answer to all of these questions on Saturday, but they will get to see their team in action for the first time. With a huge guest list of both former players and highly touted recruits scheduled to be in attendance, it should be a special day in Tucson.

Start Time: Festivities will begin at 1:45 p.m. in Tucson, doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets: The game is sold out.

Online Stream: ArizonaAthletics.com will have a live stream.

Guest List:

Former Players and Coaches:

Lute Olson
Derrick Williams; will be enshrined into Ring of Honor.
Chase Budinger; will be enshrined into Ring of Honor.
Jason Terry; will be honored for championship with Dallas Mavericks.
Andre Iguodala
Richard Jefferson
Channing Frye
Jerryd Bayless
Cory Williams

Confirmed Recruits:

Brandon Ashley (Committed)
Grant Jerrett (Committed)
Gabe York (Committed)
Kaleb Tarczewski
Stephen Domingo
Keith Frazier

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