The Arizona Wildcats’ relentless effort in the transfer market finally yielded some fruit on Monday as they landed Seattle grad transfer Terrell Brown, a 6-foot-1 guard who will be an immediate impact player after he averaged 20.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists with the Redhawks this season.
Assuming Nico Mannion and Josh Green join Zeke Nnaji in the NBA Draft as expected, here is a look at the state of Arizona’s roster heading into 2020-21 and some of the questions that still have to be answered this offseason.
A possible depth chart
- PG: James Akinjo/Terrell Brown
- SG: Brandon Williams/Jemarl Baker Jr.
- SF: Dalen Terry/Ben Mathurin
- PF: Jordan Brown
- C: Christian Koloko/Ira Lee
Scholarships remaining: 4
Biggest questions remaining
Will James Akinjo be immediately eligible?
The 6-foot-3 point guard played in seven games in 2019-20 before leaving Georgetown, so he may not be eligible to suit up at the start of the 2020-21 season. Instead, Akinjo may have to wait until the fall semester concludes, which would mean making his Arizona debut in December.
In that case, pairing Williams and Brown in the backcourt would be the way to go.
Will Brandon Williams be healthy?
Of course, Williams is only an option if he can return to playing at a high level after missing the entire 2019-20 season with knee surgery.
Arizona coach Sean Miller seemed confident in getting Williams back, saying in early March that he’s “doing great” and “I think he’s on the right track to return to the court” but also conceded that “we don’t know enough now, but his surgery was successful.”
Williams has long battled a congenital knee condition that caused him to miss his junior season of high school and hindered him during his freshman season at Arizona, so this isn’t an ordinary recovery and his status has to be monitored closely.
Will the Wildcats add shooting?
While Terrell Brown is a high-volume scorer who also distributes and rebounds well, he only made 29 percent of his 3s last season, so he does not solve Arizona’s shooting dilemma. UA’s top returning 3-point marksman is Jemarl Baker Jr., who only connected on 34.3 percent of his triples this season.
Both Williams and Akinjo have shown promise in that department over the course of their college careers—Akinjo shot 39 percent from deep as a freshman and Williams shot 40 percent from 3 in Pac-12 play in 2018-19—but their career numbers are less than stellar.
Akinjo is a 36 percent career 3-point shooter, about the nation’s average, while Williams only shot 32 percent from distance in his freshman season.
Four-star wing Kerwin Walton, who is unanimously predicted to pick the Wildcats, can help, as his 247Sports scouting report says his shooting is his “best attribute.” Should he sign with Arizona, he would compete to start at the 3, but at minimum be able provide much-needed spacing off the bench.
How will the Wildcats fill out the frontcourt?
Arizona had a deep frontcourt in 2019-20, possessing five rotation-level players with a multitude of skill sets.
That isn’t the case in 2020-21. For now, anyway.
Christian Koloko, Ira Lee, and Jordan Brown are the three post players. And while they could form a dominant defensive trio, none have proven they can produce a high level offensively, though Brown, a former McDonald’s All-American, certainly has the potential to.
Nonetheless, a fourth body is needed for depth purposes alone. Five-star recruit Ziaire Williams, who could start at the 3, serve as a small-ball 4 and add significant upside is one option.
So is Purdue grad transfer Matt Haarms, who entered the portal Monday and has already heard from the Wildcats.
Will the freshmen produce?
As you can see from the projected depth chart, four-star recruits Dalen Terry and Ben Mathurin have a chance to earn minutes at the 3, and one of them could very well start unless Arizona adds another wing or is comfortable rolling with a three-guard lineup.
Both incoming freshmen are intriguing prospects, as Terry is a point guard-like playmaker and Mathurin is long, athletic and thought to be a good slasher. However, neither is known for their shooting, again why it is so critical for Arizona to get help in that area.
Who will replace Justin Gainey?
Not only do the Wildcats have several scholarship slots open, they also have an assistant coaching vacancy to fill after Justin Gainey left to be an associate head coach at Marquette.