Four of the Arizona Wildcats’ five freshmen scored in double figures Wednesday in their 91-56 win over Long Beach State.
The fifth freshman? Emmanuel Akot.
Akot scored three points and played a team-low five minutes. Head coach Sean Miller said the forward has tendinitis in his knees, which are “bothering him.”
“His knees will get better when he rests and this was an opportunity to give him some rest,” Miller said.
Akot has gotten off to a slow start this season, averaging just 2.7 points in 17.5 minutes. He, and the rest of Arizona’s highly-regarded freshman class, is one of the reasons the Wildcats were ranked No. 3 at the start of the season.
However, aside from Deandre Ayton, they have not performed as well as anticipated.
“We have talent, we’re just not overwhelming,” Miller said. “When I was watching the Bahamas games, I can only watch the TV copy and I kept seeing the No. 3 recruiting class in the country pop up on the screen like 75 times. I find myself saying, ‘where’d you go?’
“The race starts all over again in college. Just because you were ranked such and such in 11th grade, no one cares. … It doesn’t matter what you were ranked before you showed up here. We’re counting on this class to be a big reason why this team is good, and you have to perform.”
Miller was high on Akot’s defensive potential before the season, comparing him to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but Akot has not made much of an impact on that side of ball, either.
So it might be more than tendinitis keeping him off the floor.
“He’s not a defensive stopper right now,” Miller said, “We have to keep coaching him and bring out the best in him.”