While the Arizona Wildcats’ 2017 class isn’t fully wrapped up as we’re still waiting on Brian Bowen, Trevon Duval, and some other notable transfers to make a final decision, we can start to look toward the 2018 recruiting class and the spaces Arizona will need to fill.
Right now, the 2018 class is in great shape with top-15 wing Emmanuel Akot and top-30 stretch forward Shareef O’Neal already on the board, even though it’s not yet May. However, it still has a long way to go to ensure Arizona is a title favorite.
It might seem crazy to say that the Wildcats wouldn’t be a title favorite, but the 2018 roster will look dramatically different than it currently does. For one, UA will be very young. Secondly, it will have a lot of holes that need to be filled.
At the moment, I’m projecting at least six open spots that could reach a max of eight openings. Those include Parker Jackson-Cartwright (eligibility), Dusan Ristic (eligibility), Talbott Denny (eligibility), Keanu Pinder (eligibility), Allonzo Trier (NBA Draft), and DeAndre Ayton (NBA Draft). Rawle Alkins and Chance Comanche, who are both still technically in the NBA Draft but many expect to pull out, could easily put their names in as well.
The holes which will need to be filled are obvious: point guard, power forward, and center. The team will likely still have Dylan Smith and Brandon Randolph occupying the shooting guard position barring either of them having a breakout year and heading into the draft. But other than that, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, and a likely transfer are the only players who seem to be locked into the 2018-2019 season.
What this means is that Sean Miller — and his newly appointed recruiting czar Lorenzo Romar — will be able to offer immediate playing time to the best players in the country.
The following is more or less a brief overview of who could fit in the roles the team needs to fill and not a complete 2018 target list.
Power Forward or Stretch Forward:
Marvin Bagley III
The jewel of this class is undoubtedly Bagley and his unofficial position as a ‘point-forward.’ Due to this, it either gives this class a great deal of flexibility or crowds some people out; you could look at it either way. Regardless, landing Bagley is task one, and once you do, selling this team and its ability becomes that much easier.
If the team has six openings, which seems like a fair assessment, two are already on the board. If you add Bagley — which I think is better than 50-50 currently — it leaves landing a point guard and center as a must. I’d venture to guess that Brandon Williams, assuming he’s healthy, would be the most likely to wind up in Tucson at this point.
The center position is a little tougher to stake out, but Bol Bol’s name is definitely out there and his connection with Shareef O’Neal (they played on the same EYBL squad) definitely doesn’t hurt the chances. Jordan Brown would seem to be next in line as he’s on the west coast and they’ve built a good rapport with his side over the course of the recruitment.
Norris and Cherry are also very much involved and however the roster shakes out, the team will likely need another power forward alongside Ira Lee as Bagley won’t be solely locked into the ‘four’ position.
As you well know, it is definitely early and this is a fluid process but I wanted to give just a brief update and/or something to think about in this major sport dead period.
You can follow Alec on Twitter: @UofAlec