Jess and Lewis are BFFs that attended Arizona from 2004-2008 and have bled, puked and pooped red and blue ever since (real fans do more than just bleed their teams colors). Every Wednesday this season each of us will spotlight two players. The players we love will be signified as our Wilbur of the Week, named after our glorious push-up champion, family man of a mascot Wilbur Wildcat and our hated player will be designated as our Sparky of the Week because Sparky represents all that is wrong in the world and he should stay in hell where he belongs. The only rule for eligibility to be selected as a Wilbur or Sparky of the Week is that players must have been played during the following time range: 2004 - Present. To see last weeks edition, click here.
Wilbur of the Week - Lewis
My Wilbur of the Week was all lined up and ready to go and I was excited that he was relatively obscure. I don't want our loyal readers to think that our Wilbur will always be a who's who of the best of the best of Arizona players. I'm excited to talk about some of our bench guys and role players throughout the years that I loved but after that Oregon State travesty there was only Wildcat on my mind and I knew he had to be my Wilbur of the Week. The one thing that become apparently obvious as I watched the closing minutes of the game on Sunday night was that this year's Arizona squad does not have THE guy yet. We don't have one guy who wants the ball in his hands at the end of a close game and we don't have a guy that all of us fans fully expect to come through in clutch situation for us. Last year we had that guy, and the saddest thing is that we could still have him this year. As you can probably guess, my Wilbur of the Week is Nick Johnson.
Like so many others, Nick Johnson came to Tucson out of Findlay Prep where he was certainly highly regarded as the #40 player in the country but he didn't come in with the hype of many Arizona stars before him. That quickly changed as Nick was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman after a year that wasn't amazing statistically but was impressive in many ways as Johnson showed off not only his hops, but also his high basketball IQ.
After a stepping stone of a Sophomore year where he showed drastic improvement from his Freshman campaign, Nick took the leap in his Junior Year as you all know because it wasn't exactly ancient history. Last season Nick Johnson was unequivocally the man in Tucson as his intangibles like staying cool in crunch-time and his obvious leadership ability meshed perfectly with his very tangible skills like being able to play both guard positions, shoot the rock, defend like crazy and I'm also pretty sure he can fly.
My fondest memory of Nick Johnson is from our Sweet Sixteen battle against SDSU last year where he shook off an absolutely atrocious start to the game to score 15 points in the final 2:45, including going 10-10 from the line, to win it for the Cats. When we needed points last season, Nick Johnson got them and and when we needed stops last season he got those too. Nick was a First Team All American and the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2014 and I'd sure like our National Championship chances a lot better if he was still our starting 2-guard in 2015.
Sparky of the Week - Lewis
I'm about to go contrarian on all of you so get ready for a bombshell. I hate David Bagga. There, I said it. I know he was one of the more popular walk-ons and bench guy that Arizona has had in our recent history so I know I am in the vast, vast minority here but I can't help it, I don't like the guy. Now that you have picked your jaw up off the floor, allow me to explain.
Much more importantly than his playing career, it's what happened after his playing career that makes me dislike him so passionately. Read this about him, written by him. I'll wait here for you to finish then we can discuss:
Oh boy...Where to begin? Let's do this FJM style
'One of the Youngest Novelists in the United States'.
Wow. This makes me mad in so many ways.
A) It's pretty easy to be a 'Novelist' when you self-publish a book. If I had asked my parents nicely to borrow some money I could have published my mystery novel I wrote when I was 12 about a character based on myself that is the NFL's top long snapper by day and the NYPD's top murder detective by night.
B) Being a 23 year old author does NOT make you one of the youngest novelists in the country. Here is a small sample of people that have written books at a younger age than Bagga did:
Wilbur of the Week - Jess
Sparky of the Week - Jess
In just the second game of his Sophomore season and the Wildcats tied with UAB 71 to 71, Horne intentionally fouled Paul Delaney with 0.8 seconds on the clock. That meant two free throws (Delaney made one), and possession of the ball for the Blazers, effectively ending the game in a 72-71 loss for the Cats. Two months later, in Los Angeles at the end of a tight battle with USC, Horne again fouled at the worst possible time, giving Daniel Hackett a trip to the line to lock up the game 65-64 for the Trojans. The other memory that sadly and painfully sticks out was the missed three-pointer that would have sent the Cats to their first Final Four in a decade. He had a solid career as a Cat, contributing as a role player and mentor for many of the younger players on the team and even earning himself a lovely writeup on this very site, but the questions of what if will always remain when it comes to Jamelle Horne.