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Arizona ranked 25th in Sporting News’ preseason poll

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting News updated its 2018-19 college basketball preseason rankings Thursday, and the Arizona Wildcats now find themselves inside the Top 25.


UA is ranked as the No. 25 team in the country by SN’s Mike DeCourcy. Here is why:

Most have punted this program toward the Pacific with the loss of Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and All-American DeAndre Ayton to pro hoops, but too many are ignoring wings Brandon Randolph and Emmanuel Akot, who were elite recruits. Big man Chase Jeter has been waiting as a transfer for a chance to be a significant contributor. Coach Sean Miller attracted grad transfers Ryan Luther (to deepen the frontcourt) and Justin Coleman (for backcourt depth). Most importantly, he landed point guard Brandon Williams. This will be a better defensive team than last year’s — not a grand compliment, admittedly — and will at least be functional on offense.

Most preseason evaluations of Arizona have not been so kind. Sports Illustrated recently listed the Wildcats seventh in its Pac-12 Power Rankings. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index didn’t even have Arizona in the Top 100.

Preseason rankings are pretty meaningless, but it goes to show that it’s hard to know what to expect from the Wildcats this season. They lost their entire starting five and did not recruit as well as usual in 2018, so it is understandable why some folks aren’t high on them.

Then again, their roster is still loaded with several former four- and five-star recruits and a couple graduate transfers, so it’s not like they don’t have the potential to be Top-25 caliber team.

Oregon (15) and UCLA (14) are also in Sporting News’ Top 25.