As Arizona glides past the midway point of their season, here is a look at individual player performances through the season so far.
It is no secret that Pitts has been out for an extended period of time with the “personal reasons” issue. Before the lengthy absence, Pitts was contributing well as a defensive player, often giving Kadeem Allen a break from guarding the other team’s best player.
Comanche wasn’t expected to receive much playing time this year, and the idea of redshirting him was discussed at length. However, in his limited time, he has shown great energy and a willingness to work hard on the boards. Averaging 2 boards in about 6 minutes per game, Comanche’s season will mostly revolve around learning Sean Miller’s system and adjusting to it before contributing more in the future.
Simon has seen a recent uptick in his minutes per game after Trier’s injury. It remains to be seen if that will continue once Pitts returns. Simon shows great tenacity on defense and in transition, pushing the ball up the court when he gets a chance. If he can improve on his lowly free throw percentage (43%), this can be a very productive and successful freshman campaign for Simon.
If PJC were shooting the ball more efficiently this season, he would be one of the best back-up point guards in the country. Shooting 29% from three-point range drops his grade, but being tied for most assists per game on the Wildcats (after getting 18 in the past two games combined) shows how talented he is offensively. At this point, even with the challenges his size forces him to face defensively, the only thing holding him back is his perimeter shooting.
Ristic is easily the most skilled post player on the Wildcats. While his defense has been lacking at times, usually a product of his lack of mobility, his rebounding and ability to score down low remain as huge pluses for the team. More consistency on the defensive end would see Ristic’s grade rise. Ristic showed flashes in Zeus’ absence, and all signs point to him being a premier center in the Conference as Champions next year.
Shooting 39% on three-pointers, Tollefsen has grown into everything Wildcats fans could have hoped for after transferring from USF. After a slow start, Tollefsen has become one of the more consistent Wildcats.
After being one of the bigger question marks on a team full of them heading into the season, Kadeem Allen has been a rock through the halfway point. Averages of 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists aren’t flooring, but Allen has been far and away the Wildcats best defensive player. Allen has also proven himself to be capable of taking over a game late, like he did in rallying the Cats back into the game vs. UCLA. Allen is still adjusting to playing point guard, but an uptick in scoring along with continued distinguished defensive performances and more aggressiveness looking for his own shot from the perimeter will cement his spot as one of the most reliable players on the team.
The stalwart center for the Wildcats for the past four years, Zeus is having his best season thus far in an Arizona uniform. Missing 8 games didn’t help, but Zeus has come back with a vengeance over the past few weeks, averaging over 12 points and 10 boards per game since returning. Zeus is easily the best low post defender on the team. Over his long and celebrated collegiate career, the biggest hope out of Wildcats fans was that he would finally put it all together on the offensive side.
It is no secret that Gabe York is the gunner on this Arizona team. In that regard, York is shooting an excellent 44% from beyond the arc. More than any other year at Arizona, York seems to finally be letting loose and shooting the ball more frequently and from wherever he feels comfortable. As the season progresses into March, York’s offensive mindset and production are possibly the most important factors for how deep this team goes in the NCAA Tournament.
It is hard to imagine where this team would be this season without Ryan Anderson. A double-double machine (8 so far this year), Anderson is tied for the team lead with just under 15 points per game to go along with 10 rebounds per game. An absolute beast on the offensive glass (53 offensive rebounds this year), Anderson is always active on the boards and just as big a put-back threat as Zeus. Anderson has been the most consistent offensive player for Arizona so far.
Like many highly touted Arizona freshman, it took a few games for Allonzo Trier to find his groove. Since his first five games, Trier has scored double digits in 10 straight. Tied for the team lead with 14.8 points per game (to go along with almost 4 rebounds and 1 assist), Trier has been the backbone for this team offensively. Never afraid to look for his shot or get to the line, Trier is the most talented offensive player on the team. Miller has lauded his effort from day one, and his defensive determination has grown leaps and bounds through the season. Likely on pace for top freshman in the Pac-12 before his injury, Trier returning to the lineup and more importantly, returning to form, will be huge for the Wildcats in the late stages of the season.