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French center Daniel Batcho ‘unlikely’ to play for Arizona this season

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Daniel Batcho’s knee is progressing well after surgery as evidenced by the video the Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe captured before Arizona’s loss to USC on Thursday, but head coach Sean Miller said it’s unlikely the French freshman will play this season.

“We’re gonna take it slow,” Miller said. “He’s at the very beginning stages of practicing with us. I think it’s unlikely that he’ll see the court in games this year. But I do think over the next couple of weeks, he’ll begin to be able to practice and contribute on a daily basis. The most important thing is that his knee is continuing to improve, get strengthened, and he’s not having any problems post-surgery.”

Batcho, who wouldn’t lose a year of eligibility if he did play this season, underwent knee surgery in late October to repair a cartilage issue. The program said he would be re-evaluated in January.

The 6-foot-11 center has had knee issues before, missing the 2018-19 season with a fractured kneecap.

It would have been difficult for him to crack the rotation this season anyway with Azuolas Tubelis, Jordan Brown, Ira Lee and Christian Koloko all eating up minutes in the frontcourt, as well as Arizona’s propensity to play small.

Batcho should be an important piece in the future, though. He was considered one of the best European prospects to go the college route. He’ll just have to wait a while to show why.

“I think he could play both positions (center and power forward) for us,” Miller said in May. “He’s aggressive. He’s a very good defensive rebounder, adept at FIBA basketball where pick-and-roll and playing up and down, being able to defend pick-and-rolls, those are things that he’s been doing for a number of years. Hungry guy, a guy that loves the game. Really excited to have him.”