Chase Jeter might be the most important player on the Arizona Wildcats next season. He’s certainly irreplaceable.
Dusan Ristic and Deandre Ayton are gone, so the Duke transfer will likely start at center and be Arizona’s only player taller than 6-foot-9.
Thus, Jeter’s ability — or lack thereof — to rebound and protect the rim will be a major variable in Arizona’s success.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to see that ESPN listed him as one of 15 “impact transfers” in college basketball heading into the 2018-19 season.
No player on this list was ranked higher coming out of high school than Jeter, who was rated the No. 11 prospect in the nation in the recruiting class of 2015. In saying yes to Duke that year, the 6-10 McDonald’s All-American said no to Arizona, among others. Now, the Las Vegas product has changed his mind. Jeter made cameo appearances in 32 games as a freshman and entered his sophomore season as a starter in Durham, but he was benched before Thanksgiving and missed the Blue Devils’ last 19 games because of a herniated disk.
There are several reasons to be optimistic about Jeter’s future at Arizona.
As Gasaway mentioned, Jeter was one of the most highly-regarded players in the country coming out of high school in 2015, so his potential is obvious. He is a mobile, athletic big man with long arms.
Jeter is also healthy now, practiced against Ristic and Ayton during his sit-out year, and, at least according to teammates, has the work ethic that should help him unlock his potential.
On the other hand, Jeter was not a good player at Duke, to put it lightly. He averaged just 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.3 minutes across 48 games.
While Jeter did put up solid numbers defensively, he posted an unimpressive 53.1 field goal percentage and shot just 55 percent from the free-throw line. The Las Vegas native also had a sky-high turnover percentage as a sophomore (30.5), and an extremely low rebounding percentage (10.3).
If Arizona gets that version of Jeter, its frontcourt will be a weakness next season. But if Jeter uses the change of scenery for good and displays the upside that made him a McDonald’s All-American, it will be a much different story.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire