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Arizona basketball: Attempting to replace T.J. McConnell

After graduating T.J. McConnell, Arizona is tasked with the job of replacing him

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

In an article last year, House of Sparky's Nick Krueger dubbed T.J. McConnell the most disliked player on Arizona's 2015 squad. I had two reactions --- The first was; well, he gained some respect in my book because anyone that ASU dislikes I love. The second was that I did not understand why they disliked him.

That's when I started to notice certain things that would annoy opposing teams. Such as his extraordinary hustle and heart, how he wears his emotions on his sleeve, and lastly, and possibly the most important, his resiliency and leadership.

In my opinion, T.J. is the most difficult Wildcat to replace from last year. He brought the PG back to PGU. T.J. brought something special to every game, and even in his poor games, he seemed to make a couple plays that didn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but still impacted the game.

While his shooting would seem to go into slumps, his defense never did. He led the team with 83 steals his senior season. Almost 30 more than the closest teammate.

T.J. was called many things during his times in Tucson, but possibly the most flattering thing was that Utah's head coach once called him the head of the snake.

So, who is supposed to fill his shoes? The most likely option is Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Last year, he played in 34 games, averaging a little under 10 minutes per game. His season-high in scoring was 11 points against USC, and his seven assists in the win against Gardner-Webb was the best night he had passing the ball.

Arizona has been unofficially titled Point Guard U because of all the great point guards to come out of the school, but the title went dormant for a while because of the lack of true point guards.

T.J. brought it back and Sean Miller brought it back. With a former point guard at the helm, Jackson-Cartwright should have developed well in the off-season. And he's only a sophomore, so he even has time to grow as a player.

The other options at point guard are Justin Simon and Kadeem Allen, but more than likely, Jackson-Cartwright will be the starter.

Arizona can't replace T.J.'s impossible. He was a special player. But hopefully the Wildcats can recreate his production.