Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWARK, N.J. — Arizona head coach Sean Miller and assistant Book Richardson were looking toward the future earlier this week when they came to St. Benedict’s Prep to watch 2013 point guard Tyler Ennis and 2015 shooting guard Isaiah Briscoe.
For the immediate future, Miller will also rely heavily on youth.
“It’s too early to tell, but we’re really counting on all four of our freshmen to have a role,” Miller, who took the Wildcats to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last spring, told SNY.tv.
Arizona’s heralded 2011 recruiting class includes point guard Josiah Turner, shooting guard Nick Johnson and forwards Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, a Bronx native.
“I think each of them has played at a national level before they got there, which is very helpful,” Miller said. “To me, they’re one of the keys to this season, just how much they can contribute and how fast they can start off. But it’s the combination of a lot of returners with those four freshmen that really define our team.”
With the departure of Lamont “Momo” Jones to Iona, the 6-foot-3 Turner will end up getting significant minutes at point guard, while sophomore Jordin Mayes will also see time.
“No question Josiah has an opportunity to come in and impact what we do,” Miller said.
The Wildcats lost superstar Derrick Williams and his 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game to the NBA, but Miller believes his legacy will impact the current team.
“Derrick’s meant an awful lot to our program,” Miller said. “He came at a time where he was in many ways the bridge from the uncertain times at Arizona to hopefully a very stable future, and what he did in two years really ignited our program in many ways beyond just Arizona. He’s such a great kid and evidence that if you work hard, good things happen.
“And when that type of kid is a part of your program, it benefits you way beyond when he was there.”
While Williams and Jones were the team’s top two scorers, Arizona returns an experienced group in senior guard Kyle Fogg (8.1 ppg), junior forward Solomon Hill (8.0 ppg), junior wing Kevin Parrom of The Bronx (7.6 ppg) and senior forward Jesse Perry (6.6 ppg).
The Wildcats will be on display in New York in the Coaches vs. Cancer event when they take on St. John’s Nov. 17 and Mississippi State or Texas A&M Nov. 18.
“I think our team will be a very balanced team,” Miller said. “Hopefully the experience that a lot of our returners got last year, winning and playing on a big stage and advancing in the tournament and all that feeling has really spear-headed a great offseason where we have a number of those guys who have invested a lot.
“As they return, hopefully they will return better.”
**Turner named MVP of IS8*Arizona-bound Johnsons getting an early start
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.