Between former Wildcats Nick Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Miller has fielded some incredibly talented and versatile defenders in recent years. And as a defense first coach, those types of players have been the crux of Arizona’s strong defensive teams over the last few seasons.
But now that Hollis-Jefferson has decided to enter the NBA Draft, the Wildcats will have to look elsewhere for defensive versatility.
Luckily for Arizona fans, Miller has reloaded with 2015 Justin Simon, a 6-4 defensive stopper.
Simon is a west coast product who played his senior year at the illustrious Brewster Academy, a national basketball powerhouse.
At 6-4 he has great height, but he also has a terrific 6-11 wingspan. That length makes him a defensive terror capable of wreaking havoc in passing lanes and contesting shots.
Just like Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson, Simon could eventually become the same kind of utility player on the defensive end. His combination of physical gifts and instincts will allow him to guard a variety of different players, something that Miller values highly.
On next year’s team with so many new faces, players will have to step up defensively if Arizona hopes to be as staunch on the defensive end as they have been recently. As a young player fighting for minutes, Simon could carve out a role with his ability to defend.
Of course, there are a lot of unknowns heading into the 2015-16 season and the Wildcats’ loaded backcourt makes things more cloudy.
Fortunately for Simon, he has the ability to both guard positions and can even slide over to the three with his ability to guard taller players. That versatility will give him more opportunities to get on the court.
He’ll also have a chance to back up likely starter Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard. Simon is an adept ball handler who also has great vision, making him an asset on a team without another true point guard.
Where Simon fits into the rotation will be decided on the practice floor. But with his defensive ability, he’s sure to make an impact.