On a team with as much youth and talent as Arizona, it’s natural for people to be expecting a break out season from someone on the roster. But who will step up and take their game to another level? PGU takes a look at how some of the Wildcats could break out in 2013-14.
Brandon Ashley, Sophomore
Break Out Season Stats: 14.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 55% FG
The talented sophomore has always had the physical tools, and now he has the opportunity. After playing just over 20 minutes per game last year, Ashley will be asked to play a full slate of minutes at power forward and he might even fill in at center. Basically, he’s going to be on the court as much as possible.
In order to achieve the break out season that many expect him to have, Ashley will first and foremost need to improve his consistency. He had flashes of brilliance last year, but all too often he became invisible in games. If Ashley can chip in more stable production, he could be on his way to a very impactful season.
Ashley is Arizona best player at getting to the free throw line. This trait alone will make him a focal point of the offense, and will allow him to generate points when defenses tighten up.
Kaleb Tarczewski, Sophomore
Break Out Season Stats: 13.5 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.5 orpg, 60% FG
Zeus is Arizona’s biggest player, and he could be their biggest weapon on the court this season. At 7 feet tall, Tarczewski is a physical force down low where he dominates the glass and can get easy buckets. But if he’s going to break out the way many people think he will, Tarczewski needs to show added polish as a sophomore.
Tarczewski is still finding his comfort zone on the court, and the speed of the game proved to be a challenge for him at times last season. But with a year of experience and work on his post game, Tarczewski should be able to take the next step.
One thing Tarczewski has going in his favor is that Arizona looks like they will play a much more inside-out oriented offense after being primarily a perimeter dominated team last season. This should result in more touches for the big man, who should be an integral part of the Wildcat attack.
Nick Johnson, Junior
Break Out Season Stats: 15 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.0 spg
To be fair, last season might have been Johnson’s break out campaign. He averaged 11.5 points, but also chipped in 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as well while stepping up his defensive contributions. But after 70 games as an underclassman, Johnson might finally be ready to break out as a leader of the team.
Arizona’s young core of talent has off the charts potential, but a lack of experience could put them in some critical situations throughout the season. It will be times like those that the team looks to its leader, and that leader could be Johnson. He certainly has the personality for it.
He might also be asked to do more perimeter scoring after Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill graduated last year. If Johnson shoots the perimeter shot well and becomes the player that others rely on, he could be in for big things in 2013-14.
TJ McConnell, Junior
Break Out Season Stats: 10.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 2.0 spg, 42% 3PT
It wouldn’t be a statistical break out for McConnell, who was stellar in his first two years at Duquesne. But the transfer point guard could be in line for a break out into the national spotlight if he can lead Arizona to a successful season.
A true facilitator on offense, McConnell will orchestrate the Wildcats’ attack like we haven’t seen in many years. With his pass first mentality, defensive prowess, and ability to hit perimeter shots, McConnell is a perfect fit for Arizona next season.
With athletic finishers like Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon on the wing, and fierce post players in Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski, McConnell could put up a monster year and be one of the best distributors in the country.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Freshman
Break Out Stats: 7.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg
Much of the hype has been on incoming freshman Aaron Gordon, who has made a name for himself as one of the biggest recruiting gets in school history. But Arizona landed another dynamite freshman in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has a chance to be a significant contributor from day one.
While the term “break out” can’t really apply to a freshman, Hollis-Jefferson could put himself in the same category as Gordon and all the other top names from the 2013 recruiting class. With his ability to guard multiple positions Hollis-Jefferson will see plenty of court time, and his hustle on defense and passing ability will make him a dynamic option off the bench.