In case you were holding out hope that Nico Mannion was going to be with the Arizona Wildcats for more than one season, coach Sean Miller more or less ended that pipe dream on Tuesday.
In discussing Georgetown transfer James Akinjo, who was officially added to the program Tuesday, Miller explained the reason for bringing in the point guard for the 2019-20 was to help fill an expected hole at the position.
“We’re going to lose Nico,” Miller said, unprovoked.
Mannion is one of three freshmen Arizona could lose to the NBA Draft after the season. He, shooting guard Josh Green and power forward Zeke Nnaji are all projected as first-round picks in 2020 in numerous mock drafts.
Right now Akinjo, Brandon Williams, Jemarl Baker Jr., and incoming freshman Dalen Terry are the point guard candidates for next season, though Miller was uncertain when Akinjo would become eligible. He declined to comment on if Arizona plans to apply for a waiver in order for Akinjo to be eligible at the start of the season. Without a waiver he would likely not be able to play until mid-December.
With Arizona possibly losing those three aforementioned freshmen in addition to four seniors, it still has plenty of additions to make before next season. Miller said it will be a blend of transfers (like Akinjo) and high school seniors (like Terry).
“We didn’t anticipate having a big class early, just because we signed eight players last year and four of them were freshmen,” Miller said. “But by the time we get into the spring, April and May, I think we’ll have a good group, and we’re going to need it, because every year you have departures and you have to hit the lifeblood of college basketball, and that’s to be able to recruit the right people.”