The Arizona Wildcats’ 2019-20 roster is full of transfers, as has become the norm across college basketball. Most of the ones the Wildcats have are eligible to play this season, though two are required to sit out a year per NCAA transfer rules.
That number may drop to one, however.
Coach Sean Miller confirmed Tuesday that former Kentucky guard Jemarl Baker Jr. and his family are in the process of trying to get a waiver for him to be immediately eligible.
“If you’d say is there a possibility that he might be able to play? I would say yes,” Miller said.
The same can’t be said for ex-Nevada forward Jordan Brown, whom Miller said will sit out until the 2020-21 season.
Getting Baker eligible for this season would be a huge boost to Arizona’s backcourt, which will be without expected starter Brandon Williams after he underwent knee surgery in August. His absence also leaves the Wildcats very thin behind freshman Nico Mannion at point guard.
The 6-foot-4 Baker averaged 2.3 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 9.1 minutes per game last season for Kentucky, appearing in 28 contests as a redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-11 Brown, a former McDonald’s All-American who had Arizona as a finalist out of high school, averaged 3.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 10.1 minutes per game in 33 contests (with one start) for Nevada as a true freshman.
Miller couldn’t provide a timeline for when Baker might learn if he’s eligible, but either way the plan is for the team to treat him and Brown like full-fledged contributors during practice.
“Our policy has always been … you want to treat those guys like they’re getting ready for game one,” Miller said. “What that allows us to do is to have the most competitive daily practice environment you we possibly have. When you have those two guys in key roles playing in every drill, competing at a higher level, that just makes Ira Lee that much better. That develops Nico Mannion and Max Hazzard and Josh Green and Devonaire (Doutrive).
“Until somebody tells us otherwise we’ll move forward … so that we’re the most ready we can be on opening night against NAU,” Miller said.