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Stone Gettings ‘looking great’ ahead of Pac-12 opener vs. ASU

arizona-wildcats-stone-gettings-concussion-sean-miller-asu-pac-12-james-akinjo-transfer-update Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This year’s Arizona Wildcats team is arguably the deepest one that Sean Miller has had, with 10 players averaging more than 13 minutes per game. But that rotation was one man short for the past month due to the absence of Stone Gettings, who suffered a concussion and facial fracture on Nov. 29 against Penn.

Not surprisingly, Arizona struggled during that five-game stretch without the fifth-year senior forward, going 2-3 with four of its five least-efficient offensive performances in that stretch.

All signs point to Gettings returning for Saturday’s Pac-12 opener against ASU, something Miller said will be a “shot in the arm” for the Wildcats.

“He’s looking great,” Miller said when asked how Gettings has looked since returning to practice. “Sometimes you don’t value a player until he’s no longer with you. And in Stone’s case we’ve really missed him. We missed him every day because he’s one of our team’s hardest workers.”

Gettings averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds during Arizona’s 8-0 start, shooting 50 percent overall and 44.4 percent from three-point range. Though he only logged 13.5 minutes per game he was involved in 21.2 percent of Arizona’s offensive possessions when on the court, per KenPom, third-most on the team.

“Some of the games that he’s played in, quietly he’s made a really positive impact,” Miller said. “I think he’s really clever in terms of his scoring, and he’s not just a three-point shooter. You guys have seen him. He could score around the basket in coming off the bench and get us points.”

Fellow fifth-year senior Chase Jeter said having Gettings back will give Arizona more options on offense, particularly with its three-point shooting.

“That’s going to be a big factor for us,” Jeter said. “Stone is a knock-down shooter. I’m always telling him, anytime you’re open you should be shooting the ball.”

Gettings took a shot to the face in the Wooden Legacy semifinal win over Penn, resulting in a broken cheekbone as well as a concussion. He began non-contact drills prior to Arizona’s last game against St. John’s but was cleared for full contact shortly after Christmas.

Miller said Gettings has been practicing with a protective mask but may not need to wear it against ASU.

“He might wear the mask, I think the next couple of days will determine (that),” Miller said. “I know he’s itching to get out of the mask, as anybody would, but more for precautions than anything else, we’ve had that in place.”

No comment on Akinjo

Miller was unable to comment on the Wildcats’ newest addition, former Georgetown Hoyas point guard James Akinjo, who announced Wednesday he had committed to Arizona. This is likely due to not having all required paperwork in on the transfer, who if admitted for the spring semester would be on track to become eligible in December.