Sean Miller has done everything big in his first two-plus years with the Arizona Wildcats. Big wins. A big star in Derrick Williams. Big-time recruiting classes.
Now he’s finding those big-time recruits can bring big-time headaches.
One of the reasons Miller came to Arizona was to get access to a greater talent pool. Lute Olson recruited nationally and churned out NBA draft picks on an annual basis. From the start Miller has also recruited from coast to coast and brought in elite prospects. The challenge now is dealing with the elite egos.
Freshman Sidiki Johnson left the program over the weekend after never buying into Miller’s system. He barely got into games and when he did he quickly drew his coach’s ire and immediately got pulled. His entire Arizona career totaled seven minutes of playing time.
The Josiah Turner situation is different. The freshman point guard started the first game of his college career but lost his starting job after being late. He then sat an entire game due to further violation of team rules. Turner came back and seemed to be on the verge of returning to the starting lineup but now he’s officially suspended.
It’s a problem, and a much bigger one than Johnson’s departure. Six-eight guys don’t grow on trees but Miller is making them sprout up among the cacti. Fellow freshman Angelo Chol is 6-9 and showing promise, while next year’s top-rated class features 6-8 Brandon Ashley, 6-9 Grant Jerrett and 7-foot Kaleb Tarczewski. Inside reinforcements are on the way.
The same can’t be said about point guard. Jordin Mayes isn’t a distributor and only has five assists in nine games. The Florida game proved you weaken two positions if Nick Johnson has to move over from shooting guard. Gabe York, the only backcourt player in next year’s class is another scoring off-guard.
If the Wildcats are going to win big with these two monster classes it will have to be with Turner running the show.
The Sacramento native will soon be working on his third chance and you have to draw the line somewhere. Let a discontented player stick around too long and you end up with a Reeves Nelson situation where a star threatens to drag the whole team down.
The answer is not to aim lower on the recruiting trail. Sean Miller’s job is to win championships and the best way to do that is bringing in elite players. The trick is landing the right ones. The right ones can carry you (Carmelo Anthony); the wrong ones can bury you (O.J. Mayo).
Arizona fans are hoping next year is the start of an incredible run but at the moment Sean Miller has all his point guard eggs in Josiah Turner’s basket. If Turner doesn’t figure it out quickly the program’s extreme potential for the next couple years may be scrambled.
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