Arizona Wildcats 2015–16 team preview
This article originally appeared in the the Nov. 9, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
While sitting out last season after transferring from Boston College, Ryan Anderson overhauled his jump shot and cut his body fat to 5.8% from 18.5%. “My reputation was that I’m soft,” says the 6'9", 235-pound forward, who averaged 14.3 points in 2013–14. “I had a year to focus on [changing] that.” Anderson will look a lot different, much like the Wildcats, who lost four players to the NBA over the past two seasons and have six new faces this year. Because no one on the roster projects as a first-round pick in 2016, Anderson shapes up as a go-to scorer on a balanced team. He’ll showcase a more conventional jumper—he essentially shot with one hand at BC—to bolster his crafty mid-range game, and his added strength will help Arizona in the low post.
Four seniors will start, including Anderson, but all are inexperienced in their roles. Kaleb Tarczewski (9.3 points, 5.2 rebounds per game), a muscular 7-foot, 250-pound center, goes from defensive stopper to scoring threat. San Francisco graduate transfer Mark Tollefsen (14.0 points at USF), a 6'9" stretch forward, will see if his 38.0% three-point shooting translates from the WCC. Gabe York (9.2 points) goes from supersub to starting sniper. As coach Sean Miller puts it, “Everyone has a new seat on the bus.”
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 5'11" sophomore guard
Coach Sean Miller sees sophomore Jackson-Cartwright—who averaged just 9.6 minutes last season—as a “consummate pass-first” point guard with even more athleticism than departed star T.J. McConnell.
“We’ve reinforced this off-season that just because we’ve won in the past doesn’t mean that we will this year. That’s harsh. But we lost six pillars in our program the last two years—Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson (2014 draft) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley (2015 draft) and T.J. McConnell graduated.
“You may love watching us play this year, as we’ll be more skilled, the ball moves easier, and we have more shooters like Tollefsen. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is the consummate pass-first point guard. Our tempo will be faster, and we’ll still only play man-to-man defense. There’s going to be a big drop-off in physicality, but if we establish ourselves as a strong defensive team again we’ll be pretty good.” — Sean Miller
Projected depth chart
Projected conference race
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