Expectations high for Arizona basketball in 2022-23 way-too-early rankings

Apr 5, 2022, 8:31 AM

A national championship for the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday night means a quick flip of the switch for the rest of the college basketball world.

It’s on to next season.

For the Arizona Wildcats, the bar for Tommy Lloyd’s program coming off a 33-4 debut season as head coach has been set.

In a roundup of way-too-early top-25 rankings for the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season, the Wildcats are widely regarded as a top-15 team, if not a top-10 squad.

There are a few things that could swing that expectation. Arizona likely will lose its two best players to the NBA Draft in wing Bennedict Mathurin and center Christian Koloko. They would join departing senior and backup point guard Justin Kier on the way out.

There is also an outside chance that wing Dalen Terry or power forward Azuolas Tubelis — despite the latter’s struggles in the NCAA Tournament — could consider departing for the pros.

Lloyd has five-star center Dylan Anderson incoming as a freshman for next year, but after that, any roster additions will depend on who stays and who goes. If Arizona loses Mathurin, Koloko and Kier as expected, their returning rotation will again include point guard Kerr Kriisa, Terry and Pelle Larsson on the wings, with Tubelis and center Oumar Ballo in the frontcourt.

Anderson could figure into the equation, and current freshman Adama Bal, who logged a few significant minutes late in the year, likely will crack the rotation.

That said, here is what national analysts are saying about the next version of the Wildcats.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello – No. 10

This is another ranking that can fluctuate wildly in the coming weeks. For now, we’re assuming Bennedict Mathurin is certainly gone, while Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry are also projected to be picked in ESPN’s latest mock draft. If Tommy Lloyd loses all three players, this ranking might look a little high. If either Koloko or Terry returns, then we could see the Wildcats rise. Arizona was clearly not the same team without a fully healthy Kerr Kriisa, but he and Pelle Larsson should form a quality backcourt — while Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo will continue to give Arizona a size advantage over most teams up front. The question is on the wing, where Adama Bal could be poised for a huge step forward.

Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney – No. 9

Year 1 under Tommy Lloyd certainly inspired plenty of confidence in the future of the Wildcats’ program. There will be roster turnover this offseason—we’re penciling in the departure of Bennedict Mathurin in these rankings, but frontcourt stars Christian Koloko and Azuolas Tubelis could also head to the pros. But with a returning backcourt headlined by Dalen Terry and Kerr Kriisa and potential for one or both of Koloko and Tubelis to return, this group will be in the mix to win the Pac-12 yet again.

247 Sports’ Kevin Flaherty – No. 8

It’s a shame that Kriisa wasn’t healthy for the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament run, though Houston would have been a tough out regardless. What that does do is give him plenty of motivation, and don’t be surprised if he takes the next step and becomes one of the Pac-12’s best point guards. But the attraction here is the chance for the frontcourt duo of Tubelis and Koloko to return. Koloko was one of the nation’s best two-way big men and currently projects 36th in ESPN’s most recent mock draft. So there’s a chance the Wildcats run this thing back, and with Terry continuing to grow into Arizona’s next pro-ready wing, the Wildcats won’t lack for star power. The Wildcats, like a number of teams, figure to be players in the transfer portal this year.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish – No. 11

 The Wildcats’ ranking is based on Arizona returning every relevant player from its Pac-12 championship team except for Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Justin Kier. A core of Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa and Dalen Terry should keep the Wildcats a part of the national conversation.

Sporting News’ Michael DeCourcy – No. 13


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Basketball

Caleb Love, North Carolina transfer, Arizona Wildcats...

Arizona Sports

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona hoops

Caleb Love, who led the North Carolina Tar Heels in scoring, announced Tuesday that he will transfer to join the Arizona Wildcats.

6 days ago

Conrad Martinez Arizona Wildcats...

Jake Anderson

Wildcats hoops nabs commitment from Spanish guard Conrad Martinez

Joventut Badalona point guard Conrad Martinez of Spain committed to play basketball for the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday.

11 days ago

Keshad Johnson #0 of the San Diego State Aztecs celebrates by cutting down the net after defeating ...

Arizona Sports

Arizona basketball lands San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson

San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson announced his commitment to Arizona on Saturday at a gathering with head coach Tommy Lloyd present.

16 days ago

Pelle Larsson #3 of the Arizona Wildcats handles the ball against the UCLA Bruins in the first half...

Kellan Olson

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson returning after testing draft waters

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson is returning to the program next season after he briefly tested the NBA Draft waters, he announced on Instagram.

20 days ago

Tommy Lloyd...

Arizona Sports

Lithuanian big Motiejus Krivas commits to Arizona basketball

Lithuanian Motiejus Krivas told ESPN on Tuesday he has committed to the Arizona Wildcats, giving Tommy Lloyd's roster its fourth 7-footer.

20 days ago

Oumar Ballo #11 of the Arizona Wildcats is fouled by Maxime Raynaud #42 of the Stanford Cardinal in...

Arizona Sports

Arizona basketball schedules Thanksgiving Day game vs. Michigan State

The Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team will face the Michigan State Spartans on Thanksgiving of 2023.

21 days ago

Expectations high for Arizona basketball in 2022-23 way-too-early rankings