Though August is a time when most people look ahead to the season on the gridiron, with just over two months until the annual Red-Blue game on October 12th, hoops fans are probably just as anxious for tip off as they are for kick off. PGU looks into the crystal ball with these 25 bold and not so bold predictions for Arizona Basketball in 2013-14.
1. Junior point guard TJ McConnell, who established himself as the Wildcats’ floor general and engine of the offense, surpasses Arizona legends Mike Bibby and Russell Brown for the 6th best single season assist total in school history. McConnell falls just short of 5th place, held by assistant coach Damon Stoudamire’s 1993-94 season.
2. Although he never starts a game, freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson solidifies his role as the first player off the bench with his ability to guard multiple positions.
3. Kaleb Tarczewski averages double digit rebounds, the first time a Wildcat eclipsed the mark since Jordan Hill in 2008-09.
4. Tarczewski’s front court partner in crime, Brandon Ashley, surges offensively in his sophomore campaign, leading the team in scoring.
5. Phenom Aaron Gordon takes home Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors after leading the conference in #1 plays on Sportscenter’s Top 10.
6. Guards Nick Johnson and McConnell become the first teammates since Mike Bibby and Jason Terry in 1996-97 to both record over 65 steals in a season.
7. Sophomore Gabe York hits two or more three pointers in five different games.
8. Behind solid defense all year, Arizona holds its opponents to the fewest points per game in the Sean Miller era.
9. The Wildcats protect home court, going undefeated at McKale Center.
10. Jordin Mayes plays more than anyone expects, and becomes the team’s best three point shooter.
11. Arizona rolls through the Pac-12 slate with a record of 15-3, a full two games better than second place.
12. No player averages more than 14 points, but 6 players average over 9 points per game.
13 and 14. After winning the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in his career, Sean Miller earns his first #1 seeded team as well.
15. After his midseason debut, transfer Zach Peters provides significant minutes at center behind Kaleb Tarczewski.
16. Nick Johnson sets a milestone with 20 blocks, 30 threes, and 75 steals in a season.
17. At some point in the Red-Blue game, Nick Johnson throws or completes an alley oop to or from his brother and recent addition to the team, Chris Johnson.
18. Arizona goes 2-0 in it’s biggest games of the non-conference schedule with wins against Duke in the NIT Season Tip Off and against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
19. TJ McConnell, known for high efficiency shooting, hits 45% of his field goals, 40% of his threes, and 85% of his free throws.
20. Reminiscent of Derrick Williams in 2010-11, Brandon Ashley easily leads the team with over 250 free throw attempts.
21. The Wildcats deliver the pain in the non-conference schedule, winning five games by 20 points or more.
22. In a close race, Nick Johnson narrowly beats out Aaron Gordon for the dunk of the year.
23. Arizona secures commitments from its top recruiting targets, giving the Wildcats their 4th consecutive top 10 recruiting class.
24. Ex-Wildcat Solomon Hill plays significant minutes as a rookie, making the league’s 2nd Team All-Rookie.
25. The Wildcats earn their fifth trip to the NCAA Final Four.