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Arizona basketball season player review: Chase Jeter

arizona-wildcats-the-basketball-tournament-rosters-2020-nick-johnson-chase-jeter-ryan-luther Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats never got to complete their 2019-20 season, one that began with so much promise, hope and hype before ending abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic shut down college basketball (and all other sports) in March.

While we’ll never know what this team could have accomplished in the NCAA Tournament, 32 games worth of competition is more than enough to assess each individual player’s performance.

Chase Jeter

  • Year: Redshirt senior
  • Height: 6-foot-10
  • Position: Center
  • 2019-20 statistics: 6.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, 56.4% FG, 60.7% FT

Season breakdown

Oh, what might have been.

Such a statement could be made about either of Jeter’s seasons at Arizona, not to mention his time at Duke before that. A former 5-star recruit who never lived up to his prep hype, mostly because of injuries but also a lot of tentativeness on offense, Jeter’s contributions in 2019-20 were actually below that of his first year with the Wildcats.

Some of that had to do with the emergence of Zeke Nnaji, who quickly became the go-to player in the paint after Jeter had been the de facto post option a year ago. But it also didn’t help that Jeter never seemed to be comfortable trying to score down on the blocks, either attempting double- (or triple) pump fakes to get his defender in the air to little avail or showing very little aggression at the rim.

Then again, poor foul shooting—he was a career 59.8 percent shooter from the line—made it so he had to avoid contact.

Jeter still showed some value on the defensive end, recording the best defensive rebounding percentage on the team (21.1) and having a knack for drawing charges, but once his back flared up again he was pretty much done. Spasms that occurred after the first Pac-12 road trip caused Jeter to miss the next three games, by which time Stone Gettings had entrenched himself in the starting lineup and relegated Jeter to the ninth or 10th man in the rotation.

He made just six appearances over the final 16 games, logging only 27 total minutes with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Best stretch of play

As mentioned before, Nnaji’s immediate emergence turned Jeter into an offensive afterthought early in nonconference play. But once opponents started swarming Nnaji in the paint it opened things up for the other frontcourt player, resulting in a stretch of six straight games scoring in double figures.

Jeter averaged 15.3 points during the Wooden Legacy, including 19 against Penn and 17 against Wake Forest, then kept the production going against Baylor (11), Omaha (15) and Gonzaga (10).

That six-game period accounted for 57.3 percent of Jeter’s scoring in 2019-20.

Worst stretch of play

It wouldn’t be fair to use anything after Jeter returned to action following his back injury, since it was clear that Christian Koloko had taken over his role. Instead we can look to the first road trip right before he got hurt, the sweep at the Oregon schools that proved to be his final college starts.

Despite being in the starting lineup Jeter only played 30 total minutes, just 12 in an overtime loss at Oregon, during which he missed all three shots and managed a single rebound. Three nights later, at Oregon State, he was 3 for 5 from the field but again had just one board in 18 minutes on the court while also playing terrible defense as OSU shot 54 percent.

Quotable

Sean Miller on Jeter on Feb. 25: “Chase is a great kid. He’s a leader. He’s really smart. He’s gone through a lot with his back and I think it even now he’s still working his way through it, but he’s practicing hard. His attitude has been great.”

What’s next?

Considering his injury issues, a professional career seems very unlikely (or at least unwise to attempt). Good thing Jeter is completing a graduate degree and, as a fairly smart and level-headed person he’s probably got a non-basketball career path already in mind.