ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Sean Miller: Arizona is ‘not going to be as talented’ in 2018-19

Jul 18, 2018, 2:14 PM
Arizona coach Sean Miller talks to his team during the first half against UCLA in an NCAA college b...
Arizona coach Sean Miller talks to his team during the first half against UCLA in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Pac-12 men's tournament Friday, March 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. Arizona won 78-67 in overtime. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

The Arizona Wildcats basketball program has gone through a tumultuous calendar year.

Head coach Sean Miller was linked in an ESPN report to the FBI’s college basketball recruiting investigation, which he denied wrongdoing. Former assistant coach Emanuel Richardson is facing criminal charges from his arrest related to the FBI probe. The team also had no incoming recruits as of April 7 this year.

Miller responded with a strong summer where he was able to get three incoming recruits and two transfers. Most notably, point guard Brandon Williams recommitted after the storm blew over the program from the February ESPN report.

“We’re not going to be as talented. We just aren’t,” Miller told The Athletic’s Seth Davis. “But I think we have a chance to be a good team, and maybe it will be healthy for us to be under the radar. We’ve had five years in a row with incredibly high expectations. This is a year where we can be a good team, but do it at our own pace.”

If Arizona is going to make noise next season, it will need returners Brandon Randolph, Emmanuel Akot, Ira Lee and Alex Barcello to take big leaps forward from underwhelming freshman seasons. The struggles were partly due to lack of opportunity with better and more proven options ahead on the depth chart.

Losses: Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Keanu Pinder

Additions: Brandon Williams, Devonaire Doutrive, Omar Thielemans, Justin Coleman (trasfer), Ryan Luther (transfer)

Returnees: Brandon Randolph, Chase Jeter (redshirt), Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, Emmanuel Akot, Dylan Smith

Arizona has been a one-and-done factory under Miller. Since Miller became head coach in 2009, the team has dominated in the regular season with five 30-plus win seasons but has failed to reach a Final Four despite being a top-5 NCAA Tournament seed five times.

Watching Villanova win two of the last three national championships has changed Miller’s approach for how he fills out his roster.

“I’m looking for four-star guys who want to develop, as opposed to just five-star guys who are thinking about how quickly they can leave,” said Miller. “That’s not to say we wouldn’t take the next Deandre Ayton, but we want to solidify who we are and then mix in one or two guys who are like that.”

With many questions still lingering around the program’s future due to Richardson’s involvement in the FBI’s college basketball investigation, the 2018 team won’t be the juggernaut that Wildcat fans are accustomed to.

There will be strong competition in the Pac-12 from rivals UCLA, USC and of course ASU. Oregon appears to be back in the elite conversation after a disappointing 2017-18 season.

After all the issues off the court in 2017-18, Arizona is probably just excited to focus on basketball in the immediate future.

Arizona Basketball

Arizona guard Dalen Terry (4) shoots a 3-pointer over California forward Grant Anticevich (15) duri...
Arizona Sports

No. 3 Arizona Wildcats defeat Cal on road; win 5th straight game

The Arizona Wildcats extended their winning streak to five games on Sunday after defeating California 96-71 on the road. 
17 hours ago
Arizona guard Dalen Terry (4) drives to the basket against Stanford forward Brandon Angel (23) duri...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Wildcats jump to No. 1 in NET rankings after 4th straight win

The Arizona Wildcats jumped Gonzaga into the No. 1 spot on the NET rankings after defeating Stanford on Thursday 85-57.
3 days ago
Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis (10) drives against California Baptist guard Chance Hunter during t...
Associated Press

Azoulas Tubelis leaves due to injury in Arizona’s win over Stanford

The Arizona Wildcats beat Stanford by nearly 30 points but lost forward Azuolas Tubelis for the game due to an ankle injury.
4 days ago
Arizona Wildcats guard Kerr Kriisa (25) reacts after being called for a technical foul during a gam...
Arizona Sports

Arizona basketball rises to No. 3 in latest AP rankings

The Arizona Wildcats are now the top ranked team in the Pac-12 after rising to No. 3 in the latest AP men's college basketball rankings.
7 days ago
Arizona guard Pelle Larsson, center, is squeezed between Utah guards Lazar Stefanovic, left, and Ma...
Associated Press

Tubelis scores career-high 32 points as No. 6 Arizona rolls to win over Utah

Azoulas Tubelis scored 32 points, Christian Koloko added 16 points, and No. 6 Arizona dominated Utah inside for a win on Saturday night.
9 days ago
Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) throws up a three sign after hitting a long range shot during ...
Associated Press

4 Wildcats score in double figures as No. 6 Arizona ousts Colorado

Azuolas Tubelis and Justin Kier scored 14 points, and No. 6 Arizona overwhelmed Colorado in the second half for a 76-55 win Thursday night.
10 days ago
Sean Miller: Arizona is ‘not going to be as talented’ in 2018-19