When he was brought in as a freshman in 2010, Jordin Mayes shot 45% from beyond the arc. He was a reliable outside threat, and quickly carved out a niche as a three point specialist off the bench. His shooting was instrumental in the Wildcats’ 2011 Elite Eight run.
Fast forward two seasons and the Arizona men’s basketball program is in a vastly different place. Sean Miller has finely tuned the recruiting machine, and top flight talent is coming to Tucson in droves. Year after year, Arizona is stocking up on elite high school prospects.
With a steady injection of five star talent over the last few seasons, you might be wondering where that leaves Mayes, a seemingly forgotten piece of the puzzle.
If you think Mayes will be marginalized by Arizona’s starting guards, think again. Even as a reserve, Mayes will play an integral part in the Wildcats’ offense because of his proven long range ability.
His total minutes might not rank among the team’s best, but Mayes’ role will be vital. Even before Arizona has played a single game, basketball minds have already hypothesized that forcing the Wildcats into a jump shooting contest could be their undoing. Despite all that athleticism and young talent, Arizona’s Achilles heel is their ability to stretch the floor with reliable shooters.
If Arizona does indeed find itself hurting for outside shooting, Mayes could become the Wildcats’ go-to three point shooter. Nothing would open up the game for the young talent down low like a consistent and attention-demanding long range shooting threat. If Mayes stepped up to that role, he could have a nice season ahead of him.
But there’s room for so much more. Mayes doesn’t just have to be Arizona’s reaction to the zone, he could be the reason teams are scared to use it. If Mayes shoots the ball as efficiently as he did in his freshman year, opposing defenses will have to respect Arizona’s guard shooting when he’s in the game.
But if he improves on that, as you would expect him to, Mayes has a chance to be a game breaking three point shooter, perhaps among the conference and country’s best. He could truly become a three point assassin, something Arizona hasn’t had since the Salim Stoudamire days.
But how will it all play out? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s not far fetched to think Mayes could get buried on a stacked roster, especially with yet another transfer point guard coming in to take his minutes.
A lot of players would have given up on the program after having a promising freshman year, only to see their usage and role diminish as they got older. Mayes could have been one of those players. But he wasn’t, and that deserves a modicum of respect.
Even as he was over-recruited, under-played, and mostly forgotten about over the last two years, Mayes could finally be in store for an expanded role as the team’s only senior, and he just might become Arizona’s next three point assassin.