Fear not, Arizona Wildcats fans, reinforcements are on the way. This much is certain.
Which current Arizona players will be in uniform alongside the newcomers, however, is very much up in the air.
Arizona is set to bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for next season, a five-man group that will serve as the heart of the team and provide at least two starters, if not more. Also part of the mix will be power forward Stone Gettings, a transfer from Cornell who joined the program in January and who figures to be a top candidate to start.
With seven scholarship players eligible to return—if you don’t count junior Jake DesJardins, who was a walk-on before the 2018-19 season—there’s your full roster. But coach Sean Miller hasn’t been shy about the prospect of Arizona adding more new pieces to the puzzle for next year, something that can only happen if currently occupied spots open up.
But who? And how many?
Staff writers Ryan Kelapire and Brian J. Pedersen give their thoughts on which Wildcats figure to stay, which are likely to go, and why.
Ryan Kelapire: Jeter has the most interesting situation. He graduated in December, so he would not have much to lose by testing the professional waters. And while he is not an NBA prospect by any means, he is talented enough to play in the G League if not somewhere overseas. The important thing being that he would be making money playing basketball. With his injury history, returning to college for another season could be risky. Then again, he could benefit from another year of seasoning, especially offensively. So in the end, I think he returns to Arizona for his redshirt senior season. Verdict: In
Brian J. Pedersen: Jeter can be a graduate transfer and play right away somewhere else, but where? He picked Arizona to be closer to Las Vegas, and other than going to UNLV he can’t get any closer. The fact that he’s in a graduate program is a good sign he doesn’t intend to go anywhere, and also that he understands there’s more to life than just basketball. He still provides value to Arizona, just as long as he isn’t a major focal point on offense, which he shouldn’t be next season. Verdict: In
RK: Obvious grad transfer candidate, assuming he fits the criteria academically. Smith will find minutes hard to come by next season when Arizona adds Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Terry Armstrong Jr. (and maybe another player or two) on the wing. It’s hard to ask a fifth-year senior to embrace a lesser role after having a major role, so it might be best for both sides if Smith heads somewhere he can shine in his fifth and final season. Verdict: Out
BJP: Because he’s already transferred once, Smith has shown the willingness to move on for something that’s a better fit. Just ask Justin Coleman, who made Arizona his third Division I program. But that means Smith would have to graduate before the summer is over in order to not have to sit out another year, something he can’t do since he only has one year of eligibility left. Considering the massive reduction in floor time he’d figure to experience if he stayed, it’s time for him to hit the books and get that degree ASAP. Verdict: Out
RK: Randolph is in a similar situation as Smith. His regression throughout the season was alarming, changing his career outlook from a quality starter to someone who is best off the bench. Maybe Randolph will return and be willing to accept a smaller role, but if he wants to play big minutes as a junior, he will probably have to do it elsewhere. Verdict: Out
BJP: If we were making these predictions in December, I’d say there’s no chance Randolph would leave after this season (unless it was to the NBA after a breakthrough sophomore campaign). But sadly, the scoring knack he showed early on just turned into the product of some good fortune and a lot of volume shooting. There’s no place for any of that on the roster next season, so it’s time for him to move on to somewhere that he better fits. Verdict: Out
RK: Doutrive’s ability to do the non-glamorous things — offensive rebound, especially — is an asset to any team, so I think he will have a similar role on next year where he comes in off the bench and provides a spark. Anything more than that, and he has flashed some potential, would be gravy. Verdict: In
BJP: Still incredibly raw, Doutrive was a joy to watch play as a freshman even if he was in over his head more often than not. It will be great to see how he develops with another year under his belt, as well as how the added competition from the incoming recruiting class will impact (hopefully positively) his game. Verdict: In
RK: No explanation needed here. Verdict: In
BJP: I’ll give an explanation, since Ryan isn’t willing. B-Will was the best thing about this otherwise disappointing team, particularly how he seemed to get better every game until his surgically repaired knee started to hurt him. That really killed his momentum, not to mention doomed the team as a whole. Assuming he doesn’t have any other setbacks, he’s the one guy from the 2018-19 squad that figures to play a prominent role on next year’s team. Verdict: In
RK: Lee had a strong second half of the season and now looks like a guy who could crack the starting five next season, provided that he improves a bit offensively. If not, his motor and versatility make him an ideal third big, capable of playing both frontcourt spots. Verdict: In
BJP: If there isn’t a place for a guy who throws himself on the ground for loose balls, chases after players that are clearly faster than him and valiantly attempts to defend ones who are bigger and stronger, then what’s the point of having depth? Lee probably should have been starting all season, or at least once Pac-12 play began, and now that he’s moved past his off-the-court drama he can only get better. Verdict: In
RK: Barcello had a hard time cracking the point guard rotation this year, and that is only going to be more challenging with Nico Mannion in the fold next year. Simply, if Barcello wants to play major minutes as a college player, he will need to head elsewhere. Verdict: Out.
BJP: The writing was on the wall for Barcello and his future nearly a year ago, when rather than consider him a viable option for the backcourt Arizona brought in a graduate transfer. That robbed him of the chance to make that freshman-to-sophomore leap, instead stagnating his progress. And it’s only going to get worse with the guards the Wildcats have coming in. There’s got to be a better place for him. Verdict: Out