The Wildcats' immense potential on the court is overshadowed by ominous developments off it. Arizona is one of four programs to have an assistant coach facing federal bribery and fraud charges stemming from an FBI corruption investigation. University president Robert C. Robbins announced in late September that the school had suspended assistant Emanuel (Book) Richardson and "initiated the dismissal process." (He is appealing his dismissal.)
But as long as the fallout from the inquiry doesn't affect any players, this season could give SEAN MILLER a great chance to shed his reputation as the best coach never to reach the Final Four. In ALLONZO TRIER, he'll have an efficient, go-to scorer who excels at wrong-footing defenders off the dribble, drawing fouls on basket attacks and draining three-point shots (39.1% in 2016--17). Trier is a national player of the year candidate—but he might not be Arizona's best player.
That distinction will belong to DEANDRE AYTON, a top three recruit from Nassau, Bahamas, who should be in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Scientists tasked with creating the ideal modern big man in a lab would come up with something like Ayton—a 7-foot, 250-pound behemoth with an advanced scoring arsenal and the physical tools to develop into a stout defensive anchor. Ayton doesn't always play hard, but if he's engaged and in sync with his teammates, there's not a Pac-12 big man he can't dominate.
PROJECTED TEAM STATS
With 2017--18 projections for the top six scorers
COACH SEAN MILLER (9TH SEASON)
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Allonzo Trier [Starter] 6'5" Jr.
DeAndre Ayton [Starter] 7'0" Fr.
Dusan Ristic [Starter] 7'0" Sr.
Rawle Alkins [Starter] 6'5" Soph.
Brandon Randolph 6'6" Fr.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright [Starter] 5'11" Sr.
PARKER JACKSON-CARTWRIGHT doesn't stand out in a rotation stuffed with future pros, but it's more likely that the steady veteran (99 games at Arizona) will make the Wildcats go. Though undersized at 5'11", Jackson-Cartwright is a crafty passer who can hit the three (42.3%).