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Arizona unlikely to carry 13 scholarship players this season, but ‘we’re keeping our eyes and our ears open’

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NCAA Basketball: San Diego at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona still has two scholarships available for the 2021-22 season but new head coach Tommy Lloyd said Thursday that, while the Wildcats have been methodical in their approach to filling their roster, it’s “probably not likely” that they will fill both of those spots.

“But you never know,” he said. “We’re keeping our eyes and our ears open. And if we think we can add a piece or two that can really help this team, we’ll do it.”

That’s the stance every program must take as the transfer portal changes every day. For instance, Kofi Cockburn, the All-American center from Illinois, entered it Thursday. We already know that Arizona was one of several schools that reached out to Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia, a 6-foot-11 forward who averaged 13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds as a freshman last season.

As it stands, the Wildcats have 11 scholarship players—including nine underclassmen—and Lloyd admitted that is “cutting it pretty thin.”

“Traditionally in the past, I’ve been really comfortable playing two bigs together and so having another guy might give us a little more depth and more opportunities,” Lloyd said. “But if we don’t, I feel like we have guards with good size. We could play our own version of small ball and I think we’d be pretty good at it.”

He added: “I’m not gonna bring in somebody unless I think that they really add to the mix here. There’s been a lot of changes in these guys’ lives this year and so I’m trying to be really mindful of that. And for the guys that came back to Arizona and the guys that decided just to come here, I want to do the best job I can delivering on the opportunities that we’ve talked about.”

It’s possible that Arizona gets hit with sanctions that prevents them from carrying 13 scholarship players anyway. The Wildcats are still waiting to hear what punishment(s) will be handed down from the NCAA investigation that reportedly uncovered multiple Level I violations, which are considered the most severe.

“I can’t predict what’s going to happen, so you’re just trying to be mindful and my job is to help this group maximize its opportunity in my first year here and build a great foundation that could be a springboard for things going forward,” Lloyd said. “We want to be adaptable to whatever situation is handed down to us.”

Arizona’s current scholarship situation

  1. Kerr Kriisa, G (Estonia)
  2. Bennedict Mathurin, G (Canada)
  3. Azuolas Tubelis, F (Lithuania)
  4. Dalen Terry, G/F (USA)
  5. Christian Koloko, C (Cameroon)
  6. Tautvilas Tubelis, F (Lithuania)
  7. Oumar Ballo, C (Mali)
  8. Shane Nowell, G (USA)
  9. Pelle Larsson, G (Sweden)
  10. Adama Bal, G (France)
  11. Justin Kier, G (USA)