PGU is counting down our 25 greatest Wildcats of all time. To see the honorable mention and how the rankings are formulated, click here.
#25: Hassan Adams (35.08)
#24: Sean Rooks (35.29)
#23: Anthony Cook (35.74)
#22: Al Fleming (37.31)
#21: Chase Budinger (37.52)
#20: Loren Woods (37.57)
#19: Michael Wright (37.85)
#18: Jud Buechler (38.07)
#17: Salim Stoudamire (39.15)
#16: Derrick Williams (40.31)
#15: Bob Elliott (41.86)
#14: Channing Frye (42.13)
Time as a Wildcat
After a brilliant season at St. Mary’s High School (Phoenix) where he led the school to a state title and earned the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year, Channing Frye moved 115 miles south to play for the legendary Lute Olson.
The 6’11 center quickly measured up to the hype. As a freshman, he became a permanent starter on a team that was coming off a National Championship game appearance by proving his worth blocking shots and leading the team with a ridiculous .595 shooting percentage.
Frye’s sophomore season was when much of the country began to take notice of his post skill set. While most guys his height have trouble maneuvering, he had no trouble running up and down the court and showing off his athleticism. He finished second in the Pac-10 in rebounding and blocks and averaged 12.6 points per game.
The ‘03-04 season was a disappointment for Arizona fans, as the Cats lost to Seton Hall in opening round of the Big Dance. It will forever be a mystery how a team loaded with that much talent only won 20 games. Regardless, Frye had another exceptional season, averaging 16 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks, which led the conference.
In his last year at Arizona, Frye sealed his legacy by putting together another fantastic stat line. He led the team in blocks, rebounding, and field goal percentage; only Salim Stoudamire had a higher scoring average. Of course, Frye’s time as a Cat ended in heartbreak when Illinois made one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history. If not for the collapse, the center would be even higher on this list.
Career After Arizona
Following a brilliant career in Tucson, Frye was the 8th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, selected by the New York Knicks. In his first season, he averaged over 12 points, earning him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Frye had another good season in the Big Apple before being traded to Portland. As a Trail Blazer, he continued to put up decent numbers but never really fit into their offense.
Then in July of 2009, much to the delight of fans throughout Arizona, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he has been an on and off starter for the last three seasons.
What more could you ask out of a player than what Frye gave and is still giving to Arizona? As a player, he was one of the best centers to ever play at the McKale Center and can be found all over the school record books.
After sticking around all four years, he was a top 10 draft pick and has since established himself as a solid NBAer who at times can light it up with a combination of post moves and outside shooting. Off the court, Frye is widely respected for his charity work.
There aren’t many better ambassadors of Arizona basketball than Channing Frye.