Kaleb Tarczewski has started 107 games in his Arizona career, which ranks 10th best in school history. Now that he’s coming back for his senior year, he has a chance to finish at the top of that list.
That’s an impressive feat, especially in this era of college basketball where talented players are expected to make the jump to the NBA before graduating. Let’s not gloss over how special it is that a player as talented as Tarczewski has stayed with the program for four years. That just doesn’t happen very often anymore.
Tarczewski bucking the trend by returning to college is monumental for Arizona. There are few players in NCAA basketball that will enter the season with as much experience as the 7 footer.
And that experience will be crucial in leading what will be a young, wet behind the ears 2015-16 Arizona squad. The Wildcats will be mixing in at least 6 players who weren’t on the roster last season, probably more. That kind of face lift is going to result in some growing pains while the team’s chemistry and identity is established.
With Tarczewski on board, the team will have a clear veteran leader to set the tone in practice and on the court. That presence is what will anchor the team in the early season as they attempt to gel for a run in March.
As big as Tarczewski’s return is for Arizona, it’s an even bigger opportunity for himself. For the last three years, Zeus has sacrificed shots, rebounds, and the spotlight to his talented cast of teammates, all for the sake of team success.
But in the coming season, Tarczewski won’t just see an increased workload, he might have to carry the team on his shoulders at times. Despite all the talent Arizona is bringing in, Zeus’ experience will make him the focal point of the team on offense and defense.
That’s going to result in some big games from the senior center, who is sure to pull down a few double-doubles next year.
In each of his first three years at Arizona, Tarczewski has played with excellent rebounding forwards that had great size. Next year Arizona looks to be much smaller at the wing and forward spots, meaning Tarczewski is likely to gobble up much more of the glass.
The Wildcats have boasted some of the tallest rosters in college basketball over the last few seasons, partially because of the wings Sean Miller has deployed. Arizona’s opponents have responded to their size by clogging the paint, which obviously makes things more difficult on big men who want to operate near the basket.
But with more perimeter oriented players making up the roster next season, Tarczewski will find more space to utilize his skills down low.
While the team will likely still play the balanced style Miller has favored, Tarczewski figures to be at the forefront of the attack and defense.
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