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Addition of Jordan Brown puts Arizona basketball back in scholarship crunch

Someone’s gotta go

jordan-brown-arizona-wildcats-jemarl-baker-transfer-nevada-kentucky-waiver-ncaa-miller-fbi Photo by Jonathan Devich/Getty Images

The massive roster turnover continues for the Arizona Wildcats, who with the commitment of Nevada transfer Jordan Brown will have eight of 13 scholarship spots occupied in 2019-20 by players who were either not on the roster last season or didn’t play.

And as was the case with the arrival of previous transfers Max Hazzard from UC Irvine and Jemarl Baker Jr. from Kentucky, someone who is currently on the roster has to leave. That’s because Brown gives Arizona 14 scholarship players, one above the maximum.

Arizona solved its first numbers puzzle when Brandon Randolph declared for the NBA Draft—and opted to remain in it, despite minimal interest—and Devonaire Doutrive decided to transfer after one season.

Here are Arizona’s 14 current scholarship players:

  • F Stone Gettings (Sr.)
  • G Max Hazzard (Sr.)
  • C Chase Jeter (Sr.)
  • G Dylan Smith (Sr.)
  • G Alex Barcello (Jr.)
  • F Ira Lee (Jr.)
  • G Jemarl Baker Jr. (So.)
  • F Jordan Brown (So.)
  • G Brandon Williams (So.)
  • G Terry Armstrong (Fr.)
  • G Josh Green (Fr.)
  • C Christian Koloko (Fr.)
  • G Nico Mannion (Fr.)
  • F Zeke Nnaji (Fr.)

(Not listed is senior forward Jake DesJardins, who was on scholarship in 2018-19 but will revert back to a walk-on)

That’s one too many. So, then, who is on his way out with Brown—who like Baker must sit out the 2019-20 season, per NCAA transfer rules—on his way in?

Prior to Doutrive’s departure there was heavy speculation that incoming freshman Terry Armstrong was looking to get out of his national letter of intent, a rumor fueled by Armstrong removing nearly all references to Arizona from his social media. But two weeks ago he cleared the air on Twitter, saying he ‘never left’ and was still coming to Tucson.

Had Armstrong asked for his release it likely would have been in reaction to seeing how much competition he had in the backcourt, and how few minutes he might end up with as a freshman. A similar mindset could be in place for Koloko, the most likely of the 2019 prep signees who might leave.

A 3-star prospect from California, the 7-foot Koloko is the lowest-rated member of Arizona’s top-ranked class. He didn’t start playing until middle school, and in November coach Sean Miller said “the best is yet to come for him.”

Translation: he’s a project, one that isn’t likely to play much as a freshman behind Jeter, Gettings and fellow freshman Nnaji in the frontcourt. And even after Jeter and Gettings move on he’ll have Brown, a former 5-star recruit, to contend with.

If it’s not Koloko the only other realistic options are Barcello and Smith. For Barcello, though, if he hadn’t already left it’s hard to see him do so now, which leaves Smith.

The 6-foot-5 guard participated in graduation ceremonies in May, with his coursework set to be officially done by the end of the summer. That would enable him to transfer to another program without having to sit out a year.

Tracking site Verbal Commits has 881 Division I players transferring, a number that includes six players with ties to Arizona. Expect a seventh with Wildcat connections to join that list very soon.