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Arizona basketball roundtable: Which newcomer will make the biggest impact?

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Justin Coleman
Photo courtesy Samford Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats’ roster is all but finalized for the 2018-19 season, and there was plenty of turnover over the offseason.

Arizona lost six scholarship players, including its entire starting five, but added two graduate transfers (Ryan Luther and Justin Coleman) along with three high school recruits (Brandon Williams, Devonaire Doutrive, and Omar Thielemans).

The Wildcats will also get to use Chase Jeter, who sat out last year after transferring in from Duke.

So, which one of these newcomers will make the biggest impact next season? Our staff discussed that. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Ryan Kelapire — Chase Jeter

I think Brandon Williams is the most talented newcomer and could even be UA’s best player, but Chase Jeter will make the biggest impact, whether that’s a positive or negative one.

He is the only true center on the roster, so the Wildcats will have to ride or die with him. If Jeter struggles like he did at Duke, UA will have a serious issue rebounding and protecting the rim.

If he looks like the player that was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school, it is easy to see how UA’s interior defense can improve from a season ago.

Jeter probably won’t need to score a lot, but he has to be a formidable presence in the paint for Arizona to compete for a Pac-12 title. I just can’t see how the Wildcats would survive if they have to play Luther or Ira Lee at center for extended minutes.

It would be one thing if Arizona was a run-and-gun team, but it’s not.

Scott Moran — Brandon Williams

The fact that Arizona pulled off this impressive class of newcomers after the turbulence of spring is a testament to Sean Miller and this program. That being said, there is only one answer to this question, and it’s Brandon Williams.

After Jahvon Quinerly and Shareef O’Neal decommitted with Williams, it looked like Arizona would be in the doldrums of college basketball for at least a few years. While Quinerly went to Villanova and O’Neal went to UCLA (at least for now), Williams recommitting to the ‘Cats is not only a talent boost but a huge morale boost to the UA community. It showed that this program isn’t dead yet, and it showed that Miller is still a hell of a coach.

If Williams can be an effective floor general and knock down a few shots, which he more than likely can, he can keep Arizona near the top of the Pac-12 and keep the impressive records coming in Tucson. Maybe there are horrible sanctions and even worse basketball coming for Arizona, but for now Williams’ presence in Tucson will ensure that the Wildcats aren’t left in the dust just yet.

Zachary Rubenstein — Ryan Luther

The most important addition to UA is Pitt grad transfer Ryan Luther.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward will be entering his fifth college season after playing only 10 games last season before receiving a medical redshirt for a foot injury. His size is critical to Arizona’s success, after the loss of 7-footers Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic, as well as Keanu Pinder off the bench. Arizona has only two other big men left on their roster — Chase Jeter and Ira Lee — and neither were significant contributors for the Cats last season. Luther will see immediate action, as his size and experience should help him contribute either off the bench or as a starter.

Last season, despite the awful play of Luther’s team and his 10 games played, he posted a career-high in minutes (32.2), points (12.7), rebounds (10.1), assists (2.8), and blocks (1.6). Luther’s averages are significant on any Division 1 team, and show that he can contribute effectively in his minutes on the court. With more experience than other players joining Arizona, look for him to be a key piece and the most important addition to the team next season.

Matthew Shapiro — Brandon Williams

The Wildcats were in desperate need of a point guard with Parker Jackson-Cartwright graduating and, luckily, Brandon Williams came to the rescue and re-committed.

If Williams decided not to re-join the Wildcats, their starting point guard would’ve been Alex Barcello or Justin Coleman, so obviously Williams is a huge upgrade.

Williams is a great playmaker, which fits what the Wildcats need given that all of their starters from 2017-18 are gone. Although Williams’ primary position is point guard, he has the ability to play both guard positions. Therefore, Miller can play both Williams and either Barcello or Coleman at the same time.

Hopefully Williams plays well with Chase Jeter, since those two will have the biggest impact on the Wildcats this season.