The Arizona Wildcats enter the 2014-15 season ranked second in the country, with high expectations for their long list of talented players.
In fact, the writers at CBSSports.com put four Wildcats in their Top 100 players for the upcoming season.
Arizona is one of two teams in the country with two players in the top ten of the rankings, with forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson coming in at nine and 10, respectively.
RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON | ARIZONA
We expect RHJ to take a big step forward after coming off the bench in 2013-14. No player in college basketball is a better source of relentless energy, and if he can add a midrange jumper to the mix Arizona’s offensive balance will be tough to defend. — SV
STANLEY JOHNSON | ARIZONA
As is also the case at Wisconsin, it’s difficult to pick between Arizona’s top two players. Obviously, Hollis-Jefferson got the nod here. But the difference between he and Johnson is slim, and Johnson is widely regarded as the superior NBA prospect even if Hollis-Jefferson might be the better college player. — GP
Hollis-Jefferson averaged 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season while coming off the bench in nearly every game. With the departure of leading scorers Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon his role, and expectations, will be much greater this season.
Unlike Hollis-Jefferson, there is no history at Arizona to fall back on in order to rank Johnson so high. But with the 18-year-old coming to Tucson as one of the most highly-ranked recruits in the country, many envision great things from the freshman.
Although the star players make Arizona’s roster intimidating, they earned the high preseason ranking with great depth further down the lineup.
42. BRANDON ASHLEY (ARIZONA)
Arizona started the season 21-0 before losing Ashley to a broken foot in February against Cal. After his injury, the Wildcats went 12-5. Ashley provides the Wildcats with a lot of versatility, especially on the defensive end; he has the athleticism and length to defend both on the perimeter or in the paint. His return is a big part of why the Wildcats are among the favorites to win the NCAA title. — SV
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds before his season-ending injury. Ashley said that he is fully recovered, and is expected to be a crucial veteran-cog in Arizona’s success this season.
Part of the reason Arizona was able to withstand Ashley’s injury, at least in the low post, is because of center Kaleb Tarczewski. Arizona maintained top-notch play in the paint last season, averaging 7.1 more rebounds per game than their opponents and holding opponents to 58.6 points per game with the massive ‘Zeus’ in the middle.
95. KALEB TARCZEWSKI (ARIZONA)
Blame the other two guys voting for this list for the top returning rebounder — and second-leading returning scorer — from a consensus top-four team being this low. To earn respect from Norlander and Vecenie, Tarzcewski might out to transfer to a Big West school. — GP
Although Arizona’s four players in the top 100 is impressive, they were still nearly doubled by Kentucky’s seven players on the rankings. Arizona’s total tied with Duke, Kansas and Texas for the second-most players.