The Arizona Wildcats held their annual men's basketball media day on Wednesday and of course you had the usual storylines. Derrick Williams and Momo Jones must be replaced, Sean Miller must figure out how to utilize his talented 2011 recruiting class and the Wildcats face a pretty stacked 2011-12 schedule.
On top of it all, forward Kevin Parrom made his first open appearance to the media to discuss his family situation -- his mother is ill with cancer -- that ended up with a man breaking into Parrom's Bronx apartment and shooting the Arizona player in the leg and the hand.
While I didn't attend the media day, I did see pictures. Parrom looked, by all accounts, happy to meet with the media as he covered his leg in sweat pants and had his left hand (the one grazed by a bullet) wrapped in tape.
Here's some notes about Parrom's recovery and a first glance at what this year's team might look like when it hits the court.Parrom's recovery
Kevin Parrom isn't on a timetable for returning to the basketball court. Thursday afternoon, he tweeted that he was hitting the underwater treadmill, but outside of that, head coach Sean Miller is just glad Parrom is back around his teammates and in the normal student-athlete groove.
Per Miller's season-opening press conference:
"It's hard. It's consuming. You don't think about practice, don't think about things you normally would when one of our players has been shot. There's not necessarily a manual you pull out. You really just try to be there and guide the process.
"At the beginning we're preparing to not have him because he's not going to be out there, at least in practice on the short term. We're going to have to learn how to play and practice without him. Again, optimistically, maybe even cautiously optimistic, we hope to welcome him back to our team at some point, and we'll know more in the next two weeks, four weeks, six weeks."
Jordin Mayes on the mend
As I told Zach Clark on his radio show to preview the Arizona hoops season, everyone is a little quick to name freshman phenom Josiah Turner the starting point guard for the Wildcats. Jordin Mayes will be there, and he proved during the NCAA tournament that he's an asset that this team will lean upon, both for his great control of the game from a floor general's perspective.
Mayes, after dealing with a stress fracture to end the season, started up training during the summer only to break his foot, which required surgery. Miller said he's full-go and has also gained some weight this offseason:
"It's an injury that a lot of guys come back from especially when you have the surgery and a lot time to heal. We were very slow to bring him back so he would have time behind him. One thing you'll notice when you see Jordin today is a year ago is was around 180 pounds, and now he's closer to 195. Some of the things dealt with as freshman on defense, wearing down, it's hard as a freshman, but he solved that by having good offseason."
The use of Mayes could be two-fold. With a deep and diverse group of guards, he could see time at both point and the two-guard spot, and Miller expects to begin a three-guard lineup this season.
Leadership from the experienced
Two guys lead this team with experience and savvy. Guard Kyle Fogg and forward Solomon Hill will be expected to take on the leadership qualities left from the departures of Derrick Williams to the draft and Momo Jones to Iona.
For a senior like Fogg, that's come in every facet of the game. He launched nearly 40,000 jumpers in the summer, a goal set by Miller when Fogg met with the coach following the end of Arizona's Elite Eight run in March. Asked how committed he'd be to shooting that much on a 1-to-10 scale, Fogg told me a few weeks ago that he responded by telling Miller he was at an 11 on the commitment scale.
Here's Miller on Fogg:
"Just having him continue to make progress is important. In all fairness to the players who were on the team two years ago, it's just difficult to master any type of system in six months or nine months and that's all we were together for. Coming back a year later, which was last year, everybody was just more familiar with how we practice and what we do to be successful. Kyle took advantage of that. He was a better defensive player as a junior than he was as a sophomore. He didn't have nearly the struggles or bad moments, and had so many more good moments. I think the same thing will happen from his junior year to his senior year."