Arizona basketball: Nnaji, Mannion make SI's top 50 list
Arizona Wildcats basketball fans are awaiting news on the draft decisions of freshmen Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji and Josh Green and wondering what might have been if the postseason hadn't been cut short and the NCAA Tournament canceled.
Would Arizona have made a run after winning its first-round game over Washington in the Pac-12 tournament?
We'll never know, of course, and those three freshmen didn't get a chance to write the final chapter of their legacy in 2019-20. (In the podcast above, InsidetheWildcats' Brad Allis discusses why being "NBA ready" does not matter.)
With a 21-11 record, the Wildcats' season was largely disappointing, pockmarked with too many close losses and a lack of signature moments. But Nnaji (16.1 points, 8.6 rebounds) was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a first-team all-league pick; Mannion (14.0 points, 5.3 assists) was a second-team choice, and Green averaged 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Last week, Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo picked the top 50 players from the abbreviated college basketball season -- and Nnaji and Mannion made the list.
Here is what he wrote:
30. Zeke Nnaji, Arizona, Freshman
Although Nnaji was underhyped coming into the season, his productivity speaks for itself as one of the country’s top rebounders and most efficient scorers. While at times he struggled on the defensive end, his energy on the glass and reliable production proved essential for Arizona.
48. Nico Mannion, Arizona, Freshman
Although Mannion’s year wasn’t all that strong statistically, he finished second in the Pac-12 in assists and piloted Arizona to a solid season, passing the eye test as a leader and decision-maker. He didn’t entirely live up to the degree of hype that followed him to Tucson, but there were few players as entertaining to watch on a good night.