The Arizona Wildcats’ success in 2020-21 will largely ride on the performance of two transfers in former Georgetown point guard James Akinjo and former Nevada forward Jordan Brown, with both expected to start after sitting out the 2019-20 season.
What kind of luck has Arizona had with sit-out transfers under coach Sean Miller in the past? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.*
T.J. McConnell, Duquesne
- Stats in final season at Duquesne (2011-12): 34.3 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.8 SPG, 2.6 TPG, 50.9 FG%, 43.2 3PT%, 83.6 FT%
- Stats at Arizona (2013-15): 31.4 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 1.9 TPG, 49.8 FG%, 34.3 3PT%, 82.9 FT%
- Overview: McConnell’s numbers might not jump off the page, but he was a high IQ point guard who knew his limits, which often meant deferring to more talented teammates like Aaron Gordon, Nick Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. Make no mistake about it, though, McConnell was the leader on a pair of Elite Eight teams, setting the tone with his toughness and competitive fire. And his unselfishness undoubtedly helped Arizona get the most out of its roster, something you can argue it has not done since he graduated. Though he only spent two seasons in a Wildcat uniform, McConnell remains one of the biggest fan favorites in program history.
Ryan Anderson, Boston College
- Stats in final season at Boston College (2013-14): 31.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 1.4 APG, 48.9 FG%, 73.9 FT%
- Stats at Arizona (2015-16): 29.2 MPG, 15.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 0.8 APG, 54.5 FG%, 74.5 FT%
- Overview: After three years at Boston College, Anderson redshirted and underwent shoulder surgery in his sit-out year before emerging as a double-double machine for the Wildcats, with 17 in 33 games. The 6-foot-9 forward was incredibly consistent as well, scoring in double figures 29 times (though he only had eight points on eight shots in the first round loss to Wichita State). Even so, Anderson was an all-conference player and one of the best low post scorers in the Miller era, only less productive than Deandre Ayton, Derrick Williams and maybe Zeke Nnaji.
Dylan Smith, UNC Asheville
- Stats in final season at UNC Asheville (2015-16): 27.3 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 36.9 FG%, 34.9 3PT, 73.9 FT%
- Stats at Arizona (2017-20): 21.7 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 35.5 FG%, 35.2 3PT%, 74.6 FT%
- Overview: After being a go-to guy on an NCAA Tournament team at UNC Asheville, Smith wanted to play at a higher level, even if it meant accepting a smaller role. Smith was a part-time starter in his first two seasons at Arizona before becoming a full-time starter in his third. Enigmatic is a good word to describe his game. He often took crazy shots and made careless turnovers, but also was capable of pulling off red-hot shooting streaks and no-look passes. If there was one constant with Smith, it was his effort on defense. His length made him a pesky perimeter defender. Had he been able to combine that with a reliable offensive game, he would have been one of the better 3-and-D wings in the Miller era.
Chase Jeter, Duke
- Stats in final season at Duke (2016-17): 14.9 MPG, 2.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 55.6 FT%
- Stats at Arizona (2018-20): 21.2 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 57.1 FG%, 60.7 FT%
- Overview: A traditional back-to-the-basket center, Jeter was a serviceable player at Arizona, but likely fell short of most fans’ expectations given that he was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school. Injuries no doubt contributed to Jeter’s pedestrian college career. A serious back injury robbed him of half of his sophomore season at Duke, and would flare up again in both seasons at Arizona. He battled knee injuries as well. A heady player, Jeter had a knack for taking charges, but lacked the ferocity needed to be a dominant interior big man, likely in part to his lengthy injury history.
Jemarl Baker Jr., Kentucky**
- Stats in final season at Kentucky (2018-19): 9.1 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.4 APG, 32.8 FG%, 31.0 3PT%, 73.9 FT%
- Stats at Arizona (2019-present): 19.4 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 TPG, 36.2 FG%, 34.3 3PT%, 82.6 FT%
- Overview: Like Jeter, Baker joined Arizona after an injury-plagued career at his previous school. A torn meniscus held him out of his freshman season at Kentucky. Then he had more knee trouble in his redshirt freshman season. After surprisingly receiving a waiver to play immediately at Arizona, Baker got off to a sizzling start, dishing out 22 assists to just two turnovers in his first six games, also shooting 55 percent from 3. But he fizzled as the year went on, shooting just 32 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3 in Pac-12 play. That decline made more sense when Miller revealed after the season that Baker only played “at about 80 percent” due to knee pain. Assuming he can get healthy, his 3-point shooting, slashing and transition passing will be big commodities moving forward. He was Arizona’s backup point guard in 2019-20 but should have a more natural off-the-ball role from here on out.
* Players who were not required to sit out but redshirted anyway at Arizona such as Kadeem Allen and Stone Gettings were not included on this list.
** Baker was recruited as a sit-out transfer but received a waiver to play immediately.