The Arizona Wildcats are consistently one of the nation’s better overall teams. Sean Miller is one of the most diligent recruiters amongst all NCAA coaches, and has done a stand-up job assembling some fine rosters for the better half of a decade.
However, with the news that Arizona will lose five-star recruit, Ray Smith, to a season ending injury, the question of whether Arizona has the firepower to garner themselves a trip to the Final Four is in question.
While the loss of Smith will hinder the team at the frontcourt, there is still depth to be had, as Kaleb Tarczewski and University of San Francisco transfer, Shawn Tollefsen, will provide enough of a spark to keep the Cats amongst the Nation’s best.
Although, it’s not Arizona’s frontcourt that will be the key to a Final Four or even a national title, the most integral part of their season comes down to its play in the backcourt, specifically pertaining to sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
The 5’10 point guard out of Los Angeles has been getting high praise amongst the Arizona coaching staff over the offseason, and has solidified himself as the Wildcats top playmaking option.
Even before the beginning of last season Jackson-Cartwright was drawing quite the following. Former Wildcat and current Philadelphia 76er, T.J. McConnell, spoke highly of the then freshman guard, as he said to AZ Central in October of 2014.
“He’s way better than me,” McConnell said. “I think he’s going to be better than I was here, and I’ve said this before: Tucson’s in great hands with Parker, and I love him to death.”
Jackson-Cartwright only averaged 2.9 points and 1.8 assists for Arizona last season, which is hardly an impressive stat line. However, the knowledge he took away from McConnell has taken a great toll on the young guard. Coach Miller saw that first hand, and spoke on Jackson-Cartwright’s progression at Pac-12 media day.
“Parker Jackson-Cartwright is someone that benefited a lot from T.J. a year ago,” Miller said.” When you practice against a guy like that every day, Kaleb (Traczewski) will be the first one to tell you, you’ve got to strap it on. And Parker learned a lot from T.J., benefited a tremendous amount, watched him closely.”
Arizona does have a tremendous backcourt behind Jackson-Cartwright as well, featuring Gabe York, Kadeem Allen, and top recruit, Allonzo Trier. Although, all indications are that Jackson-Cartwright will indeed be the teams starting point guard, or at the very least an integral option off the teams bench.
Sean Miller believes highly of Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and has been very vocal when speaking of him to the media. And while Arizona might have lost a key component before the season stared, Jackson-Cartwright might make those in Wildcat Nation forget all about it.