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Arizona basketball: Sean Miller unsure when Parker Jackson-Cartwright will return to the starting lineup

Not that it’s a big deal who starts to him anyway

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

As Parker Jackson-Cartwright inches toward being 100 percent healthy, Sean Miller will eventually have a decision to make.

Does he reinsert Jackson-Cartwright back into the Arizona Wildcats’ starting lineup, or does he leave Kobi Simmons there, who has been succeeding in his place?

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Miller said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

Miller said Jackson-Cartwright has had no setbacks since returning from a high ankle sprain against Cal on Dec. 30, and he will be at a “higher percentage” when the team takes on Utah on Thursday.

Of course, the argument for starting Jackson-Cartwright (once he’s completely healthy) is obvious.

He is one of the team’s most experienced players, the only true point guard on the roster, and he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of almost four to one this season.

“That’s his position,” Miller said. “Kobi and Kadeem (Allen) are able to play [point guard], but they also can play other positions at times, maybe even more comfortable off the ball. Where as Parker, that’s his deal. That’s the position he’s always played so he’s inherently thinking pass, understands what it feels like to have the ball in his hands and look for others.”

When Jackson-Cartwright was in the starting lineup before suffering a high ankle sprain, Arizona went 5-1 with the only loss being to a highly-ranked Butler team.

Simmons has a strong case to remain in the starting five though, too.

He is not a pass-first point guard, but the freshman has scored in double figures in six straight games and is averaging 14.5 points per game through two Pac-12 conference games. Arizona is 8-1 with Simmons as a starter.

Either way, Miller doesn’t really see it as a major decision.

“Starting, not starting, at the end of the game sometimes we’re playing a non-starter, so that’s not as big of deal to me,” Miller said. “I know it means the world to the players, especially home games. They get to see themselves on the (video) board and run out there, and I get that, but really it’s a group of guys that we need everybody to play well. ...Depth is big. Our sixth, seventh, and eighth player that are playing, we need them to play well.”

While Miller downplayed the importance of starting, at he least has options now unlike during Jackson-Cartwright’s six-game absence when the Wildcats had just seven active scholarship players (and three guards).

If one player is struggling or another hits a hot streak — or one lineup works better than another — Miller can now make a change accordingly.

“Whoever starts for us, they’ve earned it,” Miller said, “and whoever plays a significant amount (off the bench) it’s not as if we look at them any less than somebody who starts, especially as we keep moving forward here.”


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