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Arizona basketball: Dylan Smith not expected to play point guard for Wildcats

Sean Miller sees the UNC-Asheville transfer as an off-guard

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Brooklyn Practice Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

After sitting out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Dylan Smith will make his debut with the Arizona Wildcats in 2017-18.

But what type of role will the redshirt sophomore have? That’s unclear, but we at least know he likely won’t be playing point guard.

“Right now, I don’t really see him there,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said Tuesday. “I think we have a point guard in Parker (Jackson-Cartwright). We have a point guard in Alex Barcello, we have the ability for Emmanuel Akot to shift over there and play, and then Allonzo Trier could always fill in.”

Miller’s comments aren’t much of a surprise. While Smith was at point guard 83 percent of the time at UNC-Asheville, per KenPom, his numbers as a distributor weren’t pretty.

Smith committed more turnovers (88) than assists (63), despite having the highest usage rate on the team (29.2).

Thus, the 6-foot-5 Smith will likely split time between the 2 and the 3 at Arizona. However, given what Miller said about him, it seems he will be toward the bottom of the depth chart.

“If the unexpected is supposed to be expected, that would be right because a lot of different things have happened to our program,” Miller said. “Injuries, guys leaving the program, you can never have enough quality players. Dylan adds to our quality of depth.”

Smith was able to practice with Arizona last season, so he should be ahead of the curve compared to other newcomers.

“I don’t think you can discount the fact that he’s played a year of college basketball,” Miller said. “And then in addition to that, like some of our other transfers, he practiced with us everyday a year ago. ... He learned our system, so he’s in his third year. He’s done a good job of building his body up.”

Smith was UNC-Asheville’s leading scorer in his lone season with the program in 2015-16, averaging 13.5 points per game. But he shot just 36.9 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from 3, though he did shoot 82.2 percent from the line.

Yet, Miller said last December that Smith is one of Arizona’s better shooters, and improved strength and conditioning will be key to his development.

Smith was listed at 170 pounds at UNC-Asheville.

“He was very thin when he got here,” Miller said in May about Smith, who is still listed at 170 pounds. “He’s gained strength, he’s gained weight, and he still has the rest of the winter, spring, summer. By the time you see him next year in the Red-Blue game, he’ll look like a different person.”

Perhaps Smith’s calling card will be on the defensive side of the ball. At his size and with his wingspan, he should be able to guard multiple positions on the wing. Plus, he showed a knack for creating turnovers at UNC-Asheville, tallying a steal per game.

“At 6-6 with those long arms, he’ll just deflect a pass by accident,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “He’s gotten better as a defender, and now with the physical tools he has, he’s really come along.”

Smith may not be the backup point guard some envisioned he could be this season, but as Miller said, he should provide quality depth for the Wildcats and could possibly become an intriguing ‘3-and-D’ player off the bench — an ingredient any Final Four team could use.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire