Arizona reaffirmed itself as a program that produces professional talent on Thursday when it had three players taken in the first 33 picks of the 2022 NBA Draft. The Wildcats have had 28 players drafted since 2001, and the UA’s 26 first-round picks are tied for seventh-most among college programs.
The 2022-23 roster figures to have some future NBA prospects on it as well, possibly among the six newcomers that Tommy Lloyd and his staff have added this offseason.
During a Zoom press conference with reporters, many of whom picked his brain about the recently drafted Bennedict Mathurin, Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko, Lloyd gave some insight into what each of the new UA players will bring to this year’s team while also discussing the possibility of making more roster moves as well as what the future holds for departing senior guard Justin Kier.
On transfer guards Courtney Ramey and Cedric Henderson Jr.: “Courtney and Cedric, the first thing is they bring experience. I think they both really add value and depth, and every other word you want, to our perimeter.”
On Henderson, who played three seasons at Campbell: “Cedric is somebody who I was really just impressed with this feel for the game. How he’s able to play comfortably with the ball in his hands and read the game, but what I really liked is he’s able to make plays without the ball, just with his cutting and understanding how to move. He’d been well coached at Campbell. I’m sure one of the adjustments for him will be just playing at a faster pace, but I think he’s excited to do that. And I think, with his foundation of having played in that Princeton system and being coached the way he was, I think he’s got a good understanding of spacing, timing and IQ. I’m excited for him to see what he can do once he gets here.”
On Ramey, who played four seasons at Texas: “Courtney is a guy that I think we’re gonna count on in a lot of things. A significant portion of the ball handling and decision making. I think he’s a guy that’s going to really add significant value defensively for us, and we’re we’re looking to kind of hitch our wagon to his experience and his grit. I think there’s going to be a lot of added value there. In the stuff that I did when I was kind of really looking into him, I loved his feel for the game. I think there’s some easy growth areas we can attack and really help him kind of make that next jump, but I mean, this is a guy I think we’re gonna count on to score, to distribute, really impact winning significantly every game.”
On freshman center Dylan Anderson, the lone Class of 2022 signee from the fall: “Dylan’s here right now and it’s been fun. This week, I really saw Dylan kind of settle in and make some plays and some growth. That is exciting. I think Dylan’s best days are ahead of him, anmd it’s a steep learning curve for a freshman. There’s no doubt about it, and we’ve kind of thrusted him into that. I’ve been on him pretty good, to really challenge him, to just let him know that we have high standards, and he has high standards for himself, but I just want him to know that we have high standards and we expect that he will be great, and we’re going to work towards that. I think he’s going to be a guy you’re gonna be able to see in time, and maybe this year, hopefully some, is going to be able to be a guy that that physically is able to dominate a defender, to go down inside the paint and score a basket, which I really value. Offensively, he has a good wrist. His shooting is going to be something that I think eventually will be a strength of his. I’m just trying not to make that the main focus too early with him, because I really want to kind of help him with his around the basket understanding and pick and roll understanding and play a situation like that.”
On Estonian big man Henri Veesaar: “Henri’s a talented kid, too. He’s a European kid that has played in a very prestigious youth program. He’s getting some experience playing with older guys this summer. He’s a very versatile big guy. I think he adds value with rim protection and moving his feet on defense. And then offensively, I think he has a little bit of an understanding how to play in some of this movement pick and roll stuff. I just don’t want to put too much too early on him for what we’re expecting out of him. I kind of want to get him over here and get our hands on him.”
On Serbian wing Filip Borovicanin: “Somebody that signed it feels like forever ago, but this guy’s really talented. He’s got a very, very polished offensive game. I’d probably put him in the same category as Henri. I mean, I think he’s probably close to ready, but again, I don’t want to put too much of a burden on their shoulders until they get over here and we kind of get to work with them for an extended period to see where they’re at and just kind of help them with their adjustment.”
On Gonzaga walk-on transfer guard Matthew Lang: “Matt’s a good kid. I just told him that you need to look at all your options. He’s a he’s a great student. I think he was looking at NYU, Notre Dame and Arizona, and he’s an accounting guy even going back to Gonzaga, and I think at the end of the day … it’s his COVID year, he wanted a little bit of a change of scenery. I told him he could come here, but there’s no promises, no guarantees of anything, but it’s a great place to be, and if he wanted to be a part of it for a year. He’s the guy that I trust, and I know he’ll add to the culture.”
On the expectations for the freshmen in 2022-23: “I want to be a little bit cautious in my approach, because I think you just got to get them here and you got to get them comfortable, and then you can kind of make the decision that’s best for them. And I would say this: I definitely think we need contribution from them this year for us to maximize kind of what we’re doing as a team. But I’m but I’m gonna kind of hold off on any prognostications until they get over here because, the worst thing you can do as a coach in my position is overhype them, put a ton of stuff on their shoulders, they come here, they struggle, they lose confidence, and now you got to dig them out of that whole. I’m trying to do the best I can to protect them from that.”
On the likelihood of using one or both of Arizona’s remaining scholarships: “I think everything’s an option. I feel like we’ve settled into a point now where we probably have a workable rotation. We have enough guys to kind of fill out that, but again, I’m never going to limit us. If something comes along, this is obviously getting a little bit later in the summer but you never know. I mean, if something pops or something becomes available, and there’s an opportunity, I think we’ll be ready to pounce.”
On Kier’s pro prospects: “I was texting with them last night today, and his agent. I’m sure they’re looking for an NBA team they could jump on a mini camp with, or get on a Summer League roster. Those things aren’t as easy to do as they once were. Hopefully he’ll be able to hook up there. I already know, a lot has been expressed to me, there’s significant interest for him in the G League. And I think Justin is the guy that can really, really make an impact in Europe. He’s got great energy, he’s a fun person to be around and he’s open-minded. To me, that’s a huge key to being successful in Europe is just being able to go over there and basically not live in the US. This is a guy that, I think, if he does eventually choose that route, if he hangs with it, we could be looking up in a few years wondering wow, this guy is playing at a high level.”