After testing the NBA Draft waters, Rawle Alkins decided to return to the Arizona Wildcats for his sophomore season.
He admitted it was a difficult decision, but now that he’s back in the fold, he should be one of college basketball’s best guards in 2017-18.
According to Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, Alkins is the second most impactful player to withdraw from the 2017 NBA Draft, only behind Louisville’s Deng Adel:
Alkins’ return gives the Wildcats the depth and toughness they’ll need on the perimeter to challenge for the championship. Alkins (6-5) is one of the team’s most rugged competitors and defenders. He also shot 37 percent from deep and averaged 4.9 rebounds. To truly contend for the title, the Wildcats had to have Alkins on their roster.
Of all Arizona’s returning players, Alkins boasts the highest defensive box plus/minus — a box score estimate of defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player — as well as solid rebound and assist percentages for an off-guard.
Not to mention, he can score at all three levels, shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3, and 73 percent from the free throw line as a freshman, averaging 10.9 points per game.
Alkins posted two double-doubles last season, making him the first UA guard with multiple double-doubles in the same season since Hassan Adams in 2004-05.
Another underrated aspect of Alkins’ game is his durability. The New York native played in every game last season, despite dislocating a finger in the NCAA Tournament.
So while Allonzo Trier and top-three recruit DeAndre Ayton were named one of college basketball’s best duos heading into the 2017-18 season, Alkins may very well be Arizona’s best and/or most important player.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire