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Arizona freshman Kerr Kriisa expected to return to practice soon, but still awaits NCAA clearance

Kerr Kriisa hyping up Jemarl Baker
Photo by Ryan Kelapire

After completing a mandatory quarantine after returning from Estonia, Kerr Kriisa was on the Arizona Wildcats’ bench for the first time Wednesday, cheering on his teammates during the 85-60 win over Cal State Bakersfield.

The freshman should hit another important milestone in his return to the court later this week when head coach Sean Miller expects Kriisa to be cleared to practice.

As Miller later clarified, it is COVID protocol that Kriisa is expected to pass, not the NCAA’s clearinghouse that is evaluating Kriisa’s eligibility with no solution in sight.

Kriisa was practicing with the Wildcats before he left for Estonia.

“No, we don’t have any update in terms of his amateurism eligibility,” Miller said Wednesday. “But from a COVID perspective, he’s coming down the homestretch here of being fully cleared. As you know, playing in the FIBA championship that he did, he was tested there every single day as well, so it’s not as if he got away from that. And right now we’re towards the end of quarantine and it’s nice to have him back. He’s a great kid, obviously a very good player, somebody that our team loves to be around and he makes our practices very competitive because not only is he a quality player but...he’s a great competitor.”

Kriisa returned to Tucson last Thursday after spending a weekend in Estonia playing in FIBA qualifiers. When/if he is eligible to play for the Wildcats, he is expected to add more ball-handling and 3-point shooting to a team that is already showing it has a lot.

Arizona shot 12 for 28 from 3 against Bakersfield, and 21 of their 27 field goals were assisted on. Five different players scored in double figures.

“One thing I will tell you, I think our team this year has played with an edge to us,” Miller said. “I think that we’re really locked in on trying to be a better group, better team. We play nine quality players and on different nights different players can step up and play well, whether it’s scoring, shooting. You saw some of that tonight.”