Even though the Arizona Wildcats are approaching the most critical part of their season, head coach Sean Miller was asked about next year’s roster on his weekly radio show.
Miller said the Wildcats are looking to add four or five more players to their 2020 recruiting class, that figure including high-school recruits and transfers.
“I know that sounds like a lot, but we’re pretty far along with a couple of them,” Miller said.
The 2020 class currently consists of four-star prospects Dalen Terry and Ben Mathurin and Georgetown transfer James Akinjo, who is already enrolled at the UA and practicing with the team, meaning the Wildcats will be welcoming seven or eight new faces plus Nevada transfer Jordan Brown, who joined Arizona last summer but has had to sit out this season due to NCAA rules.
Miller wants a “balanced roster,” one with a healthy mix of freshmen and upperclassmen, so he said the Wildcats will continue to pursue graduate transfers when they hit the market in April and May.
“It’s the balance I think that all of us are looking for,” he said.
Arizona’s current roster, theoretically at least, has that kind of balance, consisting of four seniors, a junior, and a third-year sophomore surrounding its ballyhooed freshman quartet of Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji, Josh Green, and Christian Koloko.
However, it is has not yielded great results, with Arizona failing to live up to expectations so far, falling out of the Top 25 again this week.
One problem is that Arizona is relying too heavily on its freshmen, who lead the team in every statistical category. That has made the Wildcats prone to extreme bouts of inconsistency as the first-year players experience growing pains.
Meanwhile, the upperclassmen simply have not been that productive, and because two of them are in their first (and only) season with the program, it is difficult for them to take on a traditional leadership role that is expected of an older player.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the same problems could arise next season when their roster makeup will be very similar.
If Green, Mannion, and Nnaji all leave for the NBA as expected, that will leave Ira Lee, Jemarl Baker Jr., and Koloko as the only players who will have appeared in an Arizona uniform in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
“You only get 13 scholarships, so it would be like everybody in their profession, really taking more than 50 percent of their office or workforce and replacing it every year,” Miller said. “And the better year you had the year before, the more turnover, not less. So that’s the model of college basketball and that’s really what we’re trying to do.”