When the 12th-ranked Arizona Wildcats opes up their season with an exhibition home game against Lewis-Clark State on Friday night they will be without some of their key pieces on the court.
On Thursday, coach Tommy Lloyd said that wing Pelle Larsson is out with a sprained ankle, and he was seen wearing a boot at media day. Lloyd also said centers Oumar Ballo and Motiejus Krivas will probably sit due to being banged up and sore.
The injuries will give more playing time to some of the younger guys, but Lloyd is going to let his rotation be free for right now.
“I’m gonna let it play out and I’m not even gonna set that on the first game,” Lloyd said. “I’m gonna let it play out. From my experience every time I set it it changes. So, I’m going to kind of let it play out for me and give different guys different opportunities because I think they deserve that.”
Ballo is the lone starter returning after Arizona’s first-round exit last year in the NCAA Tournament to Princeton, but the Wildcats added of a trio of high-profile transfers and a mix of freshmen who will look to replace the production that is gone.
“The balance and depth is going to be a strength of this team,” Lloyd said.
Caleb Love transferred to UA after spending the last three seasons at North Carolina. In his junior season Love averaged 16.7 points and 2.8 assists. The senior guard will bring a scoring threat to UA as long as he stays in the system.
The backcourt for UA is loaded with talent and potential with the return of sophomore Kylan Boswell while adding the transfers of Love and Jaden Bradley and 4-star freshman KJ Lewis.
“Me, Kylan, Jaden and KJ, it’s loaded I think, one of the best backcourts in the country, If not the best,” Love said.
The other senior transfer other than Love is forward Keshad Johnson, who came from San Diego State where he played in the NCAA title game. Johnson brings a veteran voice, good rebounding and is a versatile defender that will pair nicely with Ballo in the frontcourt.
“They’re great players,” Lloyd said. “I think they both are very comfortable here and settled into leadership type roles, and I feel comfortable that they know what we’re looking for,” Lloyd said.”
This is the first of two exhibitions for the Wildcats, who host New Mexico Highlands on Oct. 30, before the season opener Nov. 6 against Morgan State at McKale Center. Arizona is +2000 to win the NCAA title this season, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, tied for the ninth-best odds of any team.
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