It’s been a, well, hectic offseason for Arizona since its season ended in March, which was also the last time head coach Sean Miller spoke to the media.
“Spring used to be a quiet time for college basketball,” Miller said at a press conference Friday.
Not anymore. At least, not in Tucson.
From the conclusion of last season, which ended with a loss in the Sweet 16 to Ohio State, Arizona has lost four players to graduation (Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and walk-ons Max Wiepking and Quinton Crawford), one whose eligibility ran out (Mark Lyons), another to the NBA (Grant Jerrett) and finally Angelo Chol, who recently announced his intent to transfer to San Diego State.
Meanwhile, Miller added a Top 5 recruit (Aaron Gordon) to an already impressive recruiting class and also brought in former Kansas forward Zach Peters.
That’s not even to mention the Ed Rush officiating fiasco and the hiring of Damon Stoudamire, a former UA basketball great, to replace James Whitford as an assistant coach on Miller’s staff.
At Friday’s press conference, Miller spoke for 30 minutes (plus another 20 from Stoudamire) and covered just about everything.
On Jerrett’s early departure:
Initially I was surprised, but that’s all a part of it when you recruit a very talented young player. Each of those guys has their own goals and info that is out there is sometimes more or less relevant to them. I think from Grant’s perspective he felt he was ready and he was willing to make that climb to become an NBA player. I have no doubt that he has the talent to do it and I think just over the last month I received so many calls about him and my goal now is to help him become the highest pick he can possibly become. He got invited to Chicago which is a great sign and from all indications seems he’s playing really well there.
On the likelihood Jerrett starts out overseas or in D-League:
A lot of it will depend on how he performs from this point forward. One of the things Grant has to his advantage is that he has a true position in the NBA. He can play the four, he’s very skilled, he’s long and he’s not a small guy at all. His best basketball is ahead of him for sure.
On Zach Peters:
“We’re very fortunate. Timing sometimes is everything and in this case it really was. Zach Peters is somebody who Kansas recruited and was a part of the program. He got hit with a number of different early injuries and I think any freshman that deals with that many injuries in a short period of time you can see why it took a while to get healthy. Now that he’s healthy, in his mind he had that thirst to be a college basketball player and pursue his dreams and it just so happened with us. I think we couldn’t have added a more quality player for what we need.
On Peters’ style of play:
His style of play, he’s a very skilled player. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter and one of the things I was excited about is that he’s not small. He’s 6-10, he has a physicalness to him, he can move around on the perimeter, he can shoot the basketball, he can pass from the high post and he gives us a skill level that maybe we had with Grant moving forward. We’re excited to have added Zach because I think he is a really good fit for how we play.
On Angelo Chol’s transfer:
I would like to keep all of our players here for four years. Our goal is to keep them here as long as we can. Angelo was in a situation in the first two years here where he didn’t play a whole lot and I think as he looked towards the future, regardless of how hard he worked, he still saw himself in a crowd. What he was looking forward to was going to a program where he had an opportunity to start and play the whole game and I think that’s what, at least from my perspective, that’s what he has in his next spot.
On the Ed Rush scandal:
I can’t comment on the investigation but one of the things I can comment on, I haven’t had the opportunity to really express my gratitude at the very highest level for the support I’ve gotten form [UA president] Dr. [Ann Weaver] Hart and from [UA athletic director] Greg Byrne. For a basketball coach that gets in a situation like this, not every place would have the incredible support that I’ve been fortunate to have. That’s been very helpful and something that’s not lost on me. Something that’s been very helpful to me since I became a head coach at Arizona, just to watch the undying support and communication we’ve had, especially Dr. Hart, who just came on board recently. It’s a great feeling to have.
On hiring Damon Stoudamire:
We weren’t trying to find the best recruiter, best coach, somebody who knows the west coast and Arizona. I was looking for the most comprehensive coach that I possibly could hire because Damon’s responsibilities and impact are gonna be comprehensive in all aspects of the program. I wanted to make sure I got the best person for the job and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have him as a part of our future.