The Arizona Wildcats appear to have a set roster for the upcoming 2012-2013 season, one that has many thinking of deep runs in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament. Not only will this be Sean Miller's most talented team at UA, but also his most experienced team with potentially three senior starters in the lineup on any given night.
Combine this experience and talent with sheer size the Wildcats will bring with them whenever taking the court and it's easy to see why so many experts love Arizona.
There is always a chance of a last-minute transfer, but it looks like there will be no more turnover on the roster in Tucson. Here is a look at how everything will likely break down next season.
Mark Lyons committed to UA for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest factors had to be the immediate void at point guard. Josiah Turner left the program in April, leaving coach Miller in a potentially disastrous situation with his backcourt. Despite being more of a combo-guard, Lyons will be the starting point guard from the minute he arrives on campus.
Jordin Mayes exceeded all expectations as a freshman, playing a key role for a team that advanced to the Elite 8. Injuries and a lack of defensive improvement stunted his development as a sophomore last season, but the lanky guard still has potential to be a weapon off the bench given his smooth handles and shooting stroke.
Lyons will eat most of the minutes at point guard, but Mayes and possibly Nick Johnson will see considerable time at the spot as well.
Nick Johnson started a bulk of Arizona's games at the off-guard position and him returning to this role in 2012 is basically guaranteed. Johnson, a fan favorite in Tucson, continually earned the praise of the coaching staff throughout the year for his hard work in practice. His shooting percentages and scoring numbers dropped a bit as conference play arrived, but he still managed to produce a fine freshman season.
Johnson's biggest competition for minutes at shooting guard will come from Kevin Parrom, who is more of a hybrid player on the wing. Parrom has battled injuries throughout his tenure at Arizona, but the senior has the talent and toughness to breakout in a big way next year. Look for him to see plenty of minutes at the off-guard spot, especially when matched up with a larger team.
Gabe York, a member of Arizona's stellar 2012 recruiting class, was a dynamic scorer at the high school level. Armed with a great shot and incredible athleticism, no one would be surprised to see him have a great career in Tucson. At the same time, York is going to need some time to get adjusted to the defensive aspects of being a college guard.
Look for him to play sparingly off the bench, with potential to see plenty of playing time should he be a lights-out shooter right out of the gate. This is not so much a knock on the young guard as it is a testament to the depth and talent UA has at the position.
Solomon Hill will be the unquestioned senior leader of this team next year, spending just about all three of his years in Tucson as a starter. Hill can do a little bit of everything on the court and will be a popular pick for preseason watch lists around the country for various awards. Along with Lyons, Hill is the only other starter to have his spot locked down.
Parrom should see plenty of time at the small forward position as well. His versatility is going to be huge for the Wildcats.
Incoming freshman Brandon Ashley has the athleticism to play on the wings at the college level, although he'll likely see the majority of his minutes come at the four.
The Wildcats have so many combinations they could potentially go with at the four- and five-spots that it seems silly to label players.
Angelo Chol, a sophomore who played sparingly last season, will be the most experienced frontcourt player for Arizona next season. A big presence defensively, Chol needs to refine his offensive game if he hopes to take the next step as a player.
This being said, he already knows Sean Miller's system and may start to begin the year simply because of his familiarity with the program. And it isn't like he's not a good player, either. Chol has tons of potential down the road.
Freshman-to-be Kaleb Tarczewski, who comes in as a legitimate seven-foot center, undoubtedly has the size the come in and contribute right away, although it will likely take him some time to become accustomed to the college game. After showing onlookers just how talented he is at the Jordan Brand Classic Game last season - he recorded a double-double without having a single play drawn up for him - it would not be surprising at all to see ‘Zeus' start quite a few games next year.
Grant Jerrett committed to UA very early in the process and was seemingly seldom talked about despite a top-10 ranking by just about every scouting service in the country. Jerrett grew to be about 6'10 during his senior year of high school and features an impressive inside-outside skill set on offense. He will need to bulk up a bit (as all incoming freshmen do) to handle the rigors of playing in a tough conference, but we should look for Jerrett to play plenty of minutes next season.
Brandon Ashley will play a role similar to what Derrick Williams played for two years in Tucson, doing a little bit of everything on the wings and around the basket. He features a solid mid-range jumper and has the size to attack the rim at will. Some have questioned his work ethic at times, but there are very few incoming freshmen as talented as Ashley is.
I expect there to be numerous combinations of these four post players to be on the floor at any time, but it seems like Chol and Tarczewski would be the early favorites to land starting jobs in the fall. Practice is going to be huge for these four, and the competition levels are going to be through the roof.
It is going to be a fun season in Tucson, folks.
For more on the 'Cats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.