Multiple outlets rank Arizona in top-25 ahead of 2019-20 season
It’s been a rough past two seasons in Tucson for Arizona men’s basketball.
First, an exit in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament left Deandre Ayton’s squad out of the mix early as a 27-8 No. 4 seed. The next season, the Wildcats were surrounded by an FBI investigation regarding Ayton’s recruitment and potential wrongdoing from their coaching staff. On the court, Arizona had an underwhelming 17-15 record and failed to make the tournament for the first time since 2009-10.
But now there is some new hope, according to various outlets.
Incoming freshman Nico Mannion’s reclassification and the return of certain key contributors could turn next season into a bounce-back year for the Wildcats. Here’s where some experts have Arizona ranked this summer heading into the 2019-20 season.
The lowest of all rankings, Andy Katz has the Wildcats just barely ranked before the season.
The Wildcats have a highly-touted recruiting class led by Nico Mannion. The addition of UC Irvine transfer Max Hazzard is a huge add since they desperately needed experience on the wing. If this season is not disrupted by any results of an NCAA investigation then the Wildcats should be in a thick of a race for the Pac-12 title.
NCAA.com’s ranking is the only of the three in which they are not the highest ranked Pac-12 school, as Washington ranks just ahead of the Wildcats at No. 24.
Arizona is the Pac-12’s highest ranked team on SB Nation’s list.
Brandon Randolph staying in the draft was a blow, but with Brandon Williams and Chase Jeter back, and with one of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes on its way to Tucson, it’s looking like last season’s disaster may wind up being an isolated incident.
As Katz touched on, Randolph leaving is a loss on the wings. The former sophomore averaged 12.4 points per game.
Despite ranking the Wildcats lower than SB Nation, Kyle Kensing had high praise for the talent heading coming into Tucson.
The 2019 crop may be the Wildcats’ best in 20 years, when a group that included Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas led UA to its last Final Four. Expectations on Nico Mannion, Josh Green and the rest of the newcomers — which include Max Hazzard of NCAA Tournament Cinderella UC Irvine — will be sky-high.
The site also called last year’s team “makeshift,” a harsh yet not-totally-off description.
Max Hazzard is a name to keep an eye on and could be a key player for the Wildcats next season.
The transfer doesn’t have nearly the hype Mannion does, but will provide floor spacing as a 36.6% three-point shooter at UC Irvine and experience with his 106 career games in three years for the Anteaters.