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Wildcats ranked 12th in way-too-soon top 25

It’s never too early for a top-25, right?

Well, ESPN’s Andy Katz is
putting that theory to the test, as he released his list
shortly after Kentucky was crowned the 2012 NCAA
Tournament champion.

And while Kentucky’s Wildcats are ranked fourth, it’s
Arizona’s version who may be a bit of a surprise to some,
since Katz has them ranked 12th.

The Wildcats had to deal with a number of issues this
season from injuries to attrition, but they were still
close to mounting a Pac-12 regular-season title challenge
and made the NIT. Arizona should lean heavily on Solomon
Hill as a lead returnee (along with Kevin Parrom’s
return), but this will be a team heavy on newcomers. The
recruiting class is currently ranked No. 1 in the country
by ESPN, with Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon
Ashley and Gabe York heading to Tucson. This team will be
young in November but should make its mark in March.

Remember, this is a team that lost to Bucknell in
the first round of the NIT after being ranked No. 16 to
begin last season, so UA fans know all about how little
preseason rankings matter.

And, after last year’s much-heralded freshman class
flopped, it should be noted that it would be unwise to
expect greatness from this year’s crop, even if it the top
class in all of college basketball.

However, if it shows anything it’s that there is still a
strong belief in what Sean Miller is doing in Tucson, as
this will be the first season where the team is made up
entirely of players he recruited.

Figure in the return of Solomon Hill and a healthy Kevin
Parrom, as well as improvements from Nick Johnson, Angelo
Chol, Jordin Mayes and (if he returns) Josiah Turner, and
there is reason for optimism heading into next season.

As it stands, that is apparently enough to spawn
confidence that this team will not only return to the
Dance, but be one of the better teams in the country, too.