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Arizona basketball: Alex Barcello similar to T.J. McConnell, Payton Pritchard

T.J. McConnell’s demeanor with Payton Pritchard’s game

Mataro All-Stars v Arizona
Alex Barcello
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats fans are probably going to love Alex Barcello.

“He’s like a T.J. McConnell protégé,” said senior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who was McConnell’s backup as a freshman. “They have that same kind of demeanor. … I’m not comparing them, but they’re similar.”

McConnell, a fan favorite and vociferous leader of two of Arizona’s best squads ever, has sorely been missed by the Wildcats since graduating after the 2014-15 season.

Arizona’s point guard play — and on-court leadership — has diminished since his departure, and so if Barcello truly is similar to McConnell, he won’t have trouble gaining fans in Tucson.

However, Jackson-Cartwright admitted that Barcello’s skillset isn’t really that similar to McConnell’s. Barcello is seen as more of a shoot-first guard, while McConnell was a pass-first guard.

But the so-called intangibles that each play with aren’t that different.

“I think that their tenacity and the way the play the game is very similar,” Jackson-Cartwright said.

But if Barcello’s skillset isn’t reminiscent of McConnell’s, whose is it similar to?

Oregon Ducks guard Payton Pritchard, apparently.

“They play the right way. I really respect Payton’s game as do I Alex,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “He plays the game the right way and makes his teammates better.”

Pritchard, entering his sophomore season with the Ducks, averaged 7.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman while shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3.

He was one of the better freshman guards in the Pac-12 last season, and Jackson-Cartwright wouldn’t be shocked if the same is true for Barcello, who is expected to back up PJC in 2017-18.

“I think Alex is really coming along,” Jackson-Cartwright said of the former four-star recruit. “He gets better everyday. He works extremely hard and he’s going to be tough.”

Barcello averaged 8 points and 3 assists per game in two exhibitions in Spain, shooting 2-5 from 3.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire