For the first time in a few years, the Arizona Wildcats' frontcourt is unsettled. There's not a lot of experience on the roster, but at the same time there's a plethora of young talent.
One talented player in that group is Chance Comanche, a sophomore that didn't see the floor a whole lot as a freshman.
The 6-foot-10 center/forward appeared in 23 games for the Wildcats, and only averaged 6.0 minutes per game. But with the departure of starters Kaleb Tarczewski and Ryan Anderson, Comanche's role will undoubtedly increase in 2016-17, and he has the upside to become a significant contributor.
In fact, according to DraftExpress.com, Comanche is the 11th-best prospect in the Pac-12 Conference. Here's why:
Comanche's physical tools are undeniable, with his strength — or lack thereof — as his only drawback, writes DX's Julian Appleborne:
Listed at 6'11" with a wingspan that stretches over 7 feet, Comanche has size and length that is easily projectable at the professional level. Despite his plus length, one of the biggest knocks on Comanche, and perhaps the only negative of his physical profile is his lack of strength. Weighing in at just 215 pounds,
Comanche's lack of strength was evident last season and was definitely a point of emphasis for him this summer. While there were questions surrounding his lack of bulk last season, the same cannot be said for his mobility and overall athleticism. Comanche moves very fluidly for a guy his size, gets up and down the floor well, and has the explosiveness to finish above the rim in space with ease.
Offensively, the folks at Draft Express point out that Comanche didn't really show a go-to skill as a freshman, but he did flash potential in numerous areas:
Besides his length and athletic ability he doesn't yet have a go to skill yet offensively, but showed some potential in various areas. He only finished 48.5% of his field goals attempts, and given that the majority of those were around the basket, Comanche definitely has room for improvement inside the paint. His lack of strength was a factor in his inability to finish consistently around the rim, as he often struggled in traffic when he didn't have the time or space to load up.
He flashed a smooth first step out of the mid post, and has the length to get to the rim and finish with either hand. He wasn't featured often in ball screens or post ups, but it seems he has the mobility and footwork to find ways to contribute there, however he isn't always able to corral everything thrown his way. He also definitely has some potential as a rim running threat given his size and mobility. As a freshman the majority of his scoring came on cuts and dump offs, so it would be an encouraging sign to see him find others way to contribute as an offensive factor. He showed glimpses of being able to operate from the high post, but at times forced entry passes that just weren't there, as his basketball IQ is still seemingly a work in progress.
Throughout high school Comanche was heralded as having a mid-range game, but its likely Sean Miller preferred to bring him along slowly in terms of shooting jump shots, an aspect of his game that would be huge if he could implement it at a consistent level in his sophomore season.
He has a fluid release with soft touch, and expanding his game to the perimeter should allow him to play both the power forward and center position, which would be ideal considering his lanky frame. If he can improve his mid-range jumper and his passing ability, he'll be an excellent threat to flash to the middle when opposing defenses line up in a zone.
His best qualities are probably on the defensive side of the ball though, they argue:
A great deal of Comanche's potential lies in how he can influence the game on the defensive end...Comanche moves his feet well and has excellent lateral quickness, which allows him to defend players on the perimeter, a unique skill for a 6'11" freshmen. He can be a bit over aggressive at times defending closeouts, but he has the length to recover and effect shots at the rim even after he has been beat off the dribble. He is able to cover a ton of ground with his size and length, and is effective flying out to shooters that on the catch look like they have a wide open look.
Of course, his lack of strength could prevent him from being a dominant player:
His biggest weakness as a defender is getting bullied on the interior and on straight line drives, something that can definitely be improved with some added strength. As he continues to develop and understand the nuances of high level defenses, and learns how to play a more physical brand of basketball, he will be able to cause havoc across the floor.
While Comanche's per 40 rebounding average of 10.9 might suggest he is a solid rebounder, he is not quite there yet. His lack of strength is definitely a hindrance in terms of boxing out bigger guys on the interior, and he at times can let balls fly over his head due to his just-decent awareness
Playing time in Arizona's frontcourt is up for grabs and Comanche's defensive profile may give him an inside track to earning it. We know Dusan Ristic isn't great defensively and incoming freshman Lauri Markkanen is an unknown on that end of the floor.
Comanche could wind up being UA's best interior defender, plus he should at least be competent offensively. However, that's assuming he's developed a good amount since the end of his freshman season, and we won't really know if that's the case until November.
Relatedly, Arizona forward Ray Smith was listed as the 12th-best prospect in the Pac-12 by DraftExpress (they didn't give a thorough analysis because he hasn't played yet) and Markkanen is second (DX's evaluation on him will be released later).
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