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Arizona basketball: Landing Chase Jeter ‘was a big, big coup’ for the Wildcats

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Sean Miller said Jeter is “100 percent healthy.”

Duke v North Carolina Wilmington Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Chase Jeter is one of the newest Arizona Wildcats, but the Duke transfer has plenty of history with Sean Miller.

The Arizona head coach recruited Jeter out of high school and was an assistant coach for the USA Basketball Under-18 Team, which Jeter was a member of.

So Miller knows what to expect from his new big man.

“We didn’t do a good enough job (recruiting him) our first time around, but we became very familiar with his character and his talent level,” Miller said of the 6-foot-10 Jeter. “And I’m here to tell you, when you look at where he’ll be in his career, his talent physically and what he’s gone through, I think we’re getting an excellent player — somebody that we expect great things from.”

Jeter transferred to Arizona in May after two lackluster seasons with the Blue Devils. The former five-star recruit played in 48 total games, averaging just 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Part of Jeter’s struggles can be attributed to a back injury that hindered him in the latter half of his sophomore season.

Consequently, Jeter only appeared in 16 games that year.

However, Miller emphasized that Jeter is “100 percent healthy” and has not had back surgery (and there are no plans for him to have it).

“I think there’s probably been a misrepresentation that he had season-ending surgery or surgery on his back, which is a big deal,” Miller said. “But he did not. He had a back injury that worked itself out. Right now he’s full-go. ... We look forward to having him as part of our program this year.”

Jeter has two years of eligibility left, but he has to sit out the 2017-18 season first, per NCAA transfer rules.

Miller said Jeter’s year off will be crucial for his development — both on the court and in the weight room — and he expects Jeter to provide leadership and practice depth immediately.

“It’s going to be exciting to watch our front line practice against each other every day,” Miller said. “We talk a lot about the highly competitive environment, and you can say it, but you need the players to represent it and I think Chase was a big, big coup for us.

“As big as anything we were able to do this spring."


Defensive-minded

It’s hard to put much stock in Jeter’s numbers at Duke since he hardly played, but a brief look at his line shows he was a capable defender who struggled offensively and as a rebounder.

Jeter showed a penchant for blocking and altering shots, posting a team-high block percentage of 6.7 as sophomore.

That also would have been a team-high for Arizona. Only Keanu Pinder (5.7) was close. Chance Comanche (2.3), Dusan Ristic (2.1), and Lauri Markkanen (1.8) fell far short of Jeter’s mark.

Of course, blocks aren’t exactly the end-be-all when determining a big man’s defensive value, but Jeter rated well in other areas.

As a sophomore, Jeter ranked fourth on Duke in defensive rating (101.5) and No. 1 in defensive box plus-minus (6.4).

In short, the metrics are favorable on that side of the floor. Offensively, it’s a different story.

Jeter had a 53.1 career field goal percentage at Duke (not great, considering he didn’t shoot from the perimeter) and only shot 54.7 percent from the line.

Equally discouraging, he had an offensive box plus-minus of -0.7 as a sophomore (worse than what Pinder posted at Arizona) and his offensive rating was a dismal 94.5 (Duke’s offensive rating as a whole was 115.6).

Jeter was a weak rebounder, too, tracking down just 10.3 percent of available rebounds as a sophomore. For reference, Rawle Alkins, a guard, had a total rebounding percentage of 10.6 last season.

Again, Jeter’s numbers have to be taken in context. He was not healthy and we’re looking at a small sample size, given that he only played 492 minutes with the Blue Devils.


You can follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire