ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball ranked No. 13 in ESPN’s early top-25 poll

Oct 6, 2016, 3:28 PM

Arizona head coach Sean Miller directs his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketb...

Arizona head coach Sean Miller directs his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Utah in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Utah defeated Arizona 70-64. (AP Photo/George Frey)

(AP Photo/George Frey)

The college basketball season is not upon us, but it’s beginning to come into range.

It’s less than two months away, and with that in mind, it’s officially not “too early” to release top-25 rankings.

After releasing his “Way-Too-Early” rankings in late May, ESPN.com’s Eamon Brennan now has his “No-Longer-Way-Too-Early Top 25.”

Arizona ranks No. 13 in the Oct. edition.

“It didn’t matter that I was nine, or that I didn’t know how I was going to do it; all that mattered was that, someday, I’d make sure my mom would never have to work again. Now, she won’t have to, because I’m going to play for the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League in Australia.” So wrote Terrance Ferguson, a five-star prospect committed to the University of Arizona. Ferguson’s (totally respectable) decision took a bite out of the Wildcats’ 2016-17 ceiling, but Sean Miller recruits so well he can lose a Terrance Ferguson and expect to field a talented Pac-12 title contender anyway.

Along with four senior starters from last season, the loss of Ferguson hurts, but Arizona is still poised to make a significant jump in form.

Incoming freshmen Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen will all make a sizable impact for all three groups on the court: guards, wings and bigs. That’s not even including redshirt freshman Ray Smith, who, like Alkins, will look to meet the high standards of past Sean Miller beasts on the wing like Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon.

Sophomore Allonzo Trier consistently improved as a defender after showing off his highly-touted scoring prowess in his debut season and senior Kadeem Allen will lead the team with his stellar defense.

Like last year, however, the Wildcats will always be chasing Oregon in the Pac-12. The Ducks are ranked No. 7 on the list and are returning a large chunk of last year’s 31-7 team, including junior Dillon Brooks and senior Chris Boucher.

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