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Alex Barcello eyes leadership role in sophomore season

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We got a chance to chat with Arizona’s sophomore point guard

NCAA Basketball: Northern Arizona at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

For every player like Deandre Ayton who dominates college basketball from the minute they step on the court, there are dozens of guys like Alex Barcello who need a year or two to get acclimated.

Barcello started his freshman season well, but fell out of the Arizona Wildcats’ rotation once the competition stiffened. The 6-foot-2 guard played all of 40 minutes in Pac-12 play and one minute in the postseason.

In the end, the former four-star recruit averaged just 2.4 points per game in 9.4 minutes in his first season in Tucson.

However, Barcello figures to have a more prominent role as a sophomore, now that Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Rawle Alkins, and Allonzo Trier are gone and there are minutes up for grabs on the perimeter.

We were able to chat with Barcello about that, what he took away from his freshman season, and lots more.

Here’s the video along with the transcription.

Alex Barcello discussed the upcoming season, the new assistant coaches, his offseason goals and more

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, July 20, 2018

Q. What role do you envision having on this year’s team?

Alex Barcello: “I just envision myself being a vocal leader, being able to contribute a lot and I want to win. I want to win badly. That’s what I’ve always been about. No matter what, I want to help this team win.”

Q. Brandon Randolph said that you guys embrace the flying-under-the-radar-mentality. Do you agree with that?

AB: “I feel like that’s our motivation right now. There’s a lot of people doubting us and we use that as motivation. Every time we step into the weight room and in the gym, and even off the court, we’re taking care of our bodies every day. We’re busting our butts. Every time we step out on that court, we’re together. And if you watch one of our workouts, I mean our energy level’s up, no matter if it’s 6:45 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. We’re working.”

Q. What was the biggest takeaway for you from your first year, playing sparingly but kind of learning the ropes from someone like Parker Jackson-Cartwright and some of the other guards that were here last year?

AB: “It was a definitely a big transition. There’s a lot more pace, and you gotta think a lot more in the college atmosphere, in the gameplay.

“Me, I kind of re-evaluated myself when I stopped playing there during that time, just seeing what I could do a better individually to improve myself. And I’d also talk with Parker a lot. We would go at it in practice. He made me a lot better as a player. Just being able to play against a guy who’s been in college for four years and had all that experience, he taught me a lot of knowledge that I can use for this upcoming year. Just kind of how to be a vocal leader and lead your team.”

Q. Where’s the biggest area of growth you’ve seen in yourself so far in preseason practice this year versus where you were last year coming out of high school?

AB: “Vocally. Last year I felt like I struggled a little bit vocally leading the team. I also felt like when I went through that rough patch, I didn’t really have the right to be vocal, but this year I’m being a lot more vocal like Coach (Sean Miller) asked me to be, and really trying to get everyone else to be vocal as well. Because it’s not just one guy that should lead the team, it should be together collectively.”

Q. What’s been your impression of the new assistant coaches — Danny Peters and Justin Gainey?

AB: “I like them a lot. They’re great guys. They’re young. They know a lot about basketball. They studied the game a lot. They’ve been around it basically their whole lives. I just get a positive vibe for them and they come in the gym everyday ready to work.”

Q. What’s it been like working with Coach Gainey? He was a guy at NC State who got better each year, and then as a senior was really good. Do you see yourself having a similar career path?

AB: “Yeah, I could see that. I mean, I’m my own individual player, but he’s definitely talked to me a lot. So have Coach Peters, Coach Miller, Coach Phelps, but they expect a lot from us returning guys and they expect a lot from the freshmen too because it’s going to be collectively with this team. We’re obviously not as talented, but we have a great mindset right now. Those coaches are only helping us with that mindset because they come ready to work everyday ready to push us to be the best that we can be.”

Q. You said your team is not as talented this year, so how do you overcome that?

AB: “Working that much harder in the gym every day. There’s a lot of people doubting us, so that’s kind of our motivation right now. We’re all very talented guys, but obviously we don’t have any Deandre Aytons this year.” (laughs)

Q. You’re not going to have two 7-footers in the starting rotation this year ... and you’re going to have three guards in the rotation. ... What’s that like for you as somebody that’s going to be handling the ball?

AB: I’m happy with it because that means that we’re going to be a quick transition team and we’re gonna really be pushing the ball up the floor.

“(Miller’s) stressing to push the ball to get a quicker pace. Everyone’s allowed to drive, trying to open up the floor a lot more.”

Q. What changes can fans expect from the offense?

AB: “I would just say quicker transition. Chase (Jeter), he’s not a slow big. He can run the floor really well. We play pickup probably once a week and I love it because I’m not waiting for him. Like, I’m just kicking the ball up and he’s already up the floor, dunking. So I’m really happy. We’ve got a couple 4s that are quick and can shoot, so I think that we’ll definitely see a lot more 3s this year.”

Q. What are you guys able to work on in the summer?

AB: “We can lift five days a week and then we have four hours on the court.”

Q. How have you used that time?

AB: “I’m really trying to get as strong as possible before this year starts so my body can endure the season that’s coming up. And then on the court, we work out. Because of recruiting, we have two hour-and-a-half workouts Monday and Tuesdays. So that’s three hours. And then we have a skill individual workout. We’ll split it up, guards and bigs.”

Q. What’s it been like working with Brandon Williams? How do you think your skill-sets complement each other?

AB: “We both can drive and both can shoot. I like his mentality. He has an attack-type mentality and so do I. So I think that it’s going to be really good for this year and I’m really looking forward to it.”