While we have a long break in the action, it’s a good time to take a look at the future of Arizona Wildcats basketball, which is pretty uncertain right now.
After the 2019-20 season the Wildcats will lose four seniors to graduation and possibly three freshmen to the NBA Draft in Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji. (Not to mention Devonaire Doutrive is already gone.)
That means the only scholarship players we can assume will be back next season are Jemarl Baker Jr., Jordan Brown, Ira Lee, Christian Koloko, and Brandon Williams, though Williams’ knee issues will be worth monitoring.
Meanwhile, the only player we know Arizona will be adding is four-star combo guard Dalen Terry, who signed with the Wildcats in November. Coach Sean Miller has said Arizona will likely add five or six players in this class, so the Wildcats have a ton of work to do on the recruiting trail.
The problem is there are not that many uncommitted high-school recruits left—or at least not ones Arizona is pursuing—so at this point the Wildcats will likely have to extract talent from the junior-college ranks and transfer market to fill out next year’s roster.
You also have to remember that coaching changes will be made across the country between now and the final signing day on May 20, 2020, causing several prospects to reopen their recruitments. That, after all, is how Arizona landed former USC commits Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill and MoMo Jones late in the 2009 recruiting cycle.
Anyway, here’s a look at some of the recruits Arizona has offered and is in the running for. Let us know in the comment section if we missed any.
5-star combo guard Jalen Green
The No. 3 player in the country, Green is the highest-ranked uncommitted recruit Arizona has offered. However, the Wildcats seem to be out of the picture at this point.
Green has not listed an official list of finalists, but he has already used his five official visits to go to Auburn, Oregon, USC, Memphis, and Florida State. The two most recent Crystal Ball predictions believe he is Memphis bound.
Green is a super athletic 6-foot-5 guard who “can distribute, but scoring is his forte,” per 247Sports. His slashing is ahead of his shooting.
5-star forward Ziaire Williams
The No. 5 player in the country, Williams is another blue-chipper on Arizona’s radar. The 6-foot-7 forward attends Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, the same school Christian Koloko attended.
Williams has officially named a top seven of Arizona, Duke, North Carolina, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and USC. He officially visited Arizona on Nov. 2. He has also taken official visits to USC and North Carolina, as well as an unofficial visit to Stanford.
Seven Crystal Ball predictions have been submitted, and Stanford and USC appear to be the favorites in his recruitment.
Here is what 247Sports has to say about Williams:
Significant physical upside with plenty of room to gain strength. Athletic wing with good size and decent length. Easily should be able to play both big three and small-ball four at college level. Smooth stroke with ability to hit threes off the catch and pull. More of a one- and two-dribble pull-up shooter than slasher, but has quick first step and good touch around basket. Has multi-positional defensive upside. Adding strength and improving ball skills/aggressiveness will take game to the next level. Easy high major talent with significant NBA upside.
4-star shooting guard Kerwin Walton
The Wildcats struck gold when they landed Zeke Nnaji out of Hopkins High School in Minnesota, so why not return to the source and try to nab another player from the Land of 1,000 Lakes?
The 6-foot-5 Walton is the No. 96 player in the 2020 class and No. 19 shooting guard. He officially visited Arizona for the Red-Blue Game back in late September. Walton has since visited North Carolina officially and Creighton unofficially.
247Sports’ Evan Daniels wrote in November that “my gut says that Arizona and Minnesota are out in front.”
“Smooth athlete but not necessarily an explosive athlete,” reads Walton’s 247Sports scouting report. “Good length for a wing. Tremendous shooter. Elite 3-point shooter. Loves a hop back to the right. Serviceable ball handler and passer for a shooting guard. Average defender and rebounder.”
Unranked wing Ben Mathurin
I just wrote about Mathurin on Thursday, so I will redirect you to that page.
In short, he is a Canadian who now lives in Mexico and is expected to choose between Baylor and Arizona. Mathurin is not ranked (yet) but he is known for being a long, athletic 6-foot-6 wing with an improving jump shot.
Georgetown transfer James Akinjo
As mentioned earlier, Arizona will be a major player in the transfer market. That market usually heats up after the season, but former Georgetown point guard James Akinjo left the program last month and has already taken an official visit to Arizona. The sophomore was on campus when the Wildcats hosted Gonzaga.
Akinjo averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in 40 career games (39 starts) at Georgetown. The 6-foot guard shot 36 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from 3, and 81.2 percent from the free-throw line. He has 204 career assists to 115 turnovers, and was the Big East Freshman of the Year last season.
Akinjo considered Arizona coming out of Salesian Prep in Richmond, California, but picked Georgetown instead. It is unclear when he will be eligible to play but considering he only played seven games for the Hoyas this season, it is realistic to think he can play at some point next season.
3-star center Dishon Jackson
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound center out of St. Patrick-St. Vincent in Vallejo, California is the No. 186 player in the 2020 class and No. 26 player at his position.
It’s hard to find much info on Jackson’s recruitment other than that he has offers from Arizona, Cal, Washington State, Saint Mary’s, and New Mexico.
It doesn’t look like Arizona has spent much time recruiting him though, so he seems like a last-resort kind of prospect.
This mystery prospect
Recruiting can be a crapshoot but this takes it to a whole new level. Arizona is apparently one of three schools interested in a mystery prospect. All we know about him is that he is a small forward:
If you click on his profile you get redirected to a page that says “welcome to the end of the internet”, suggesting his highlights are not safe for human consumption. Who knows if that’s a good thing or bad thing, but let’s bring him to Tucson and find out.