Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon’s free throw percentage is much higher than his odds of staying another year.
Photo by Wildcat Universe

At high-level college basketball programs like Arizona, the minute one season ends a new one begins.

The waiting season.

Who’s staying and who’s going? A good player may declare for the NBA draft. A player who isn’t good enough may transfer in search of more playing time. Rosters at the top of the college hoops world are very fluid and the Wildcats are facing as much uncertainty as anyone.

At the moment the UA’s 2014-15 rotation looks incredible. The benefit of having no seniors among your top eight players is the possibility of bringing everyone back. Add in another top-five recruiting class and – right this second – next year’s Arizona team is absolutely stacked.

Projected 2014-15 Rotation (12 players)

PositionProjected StarterBackupBackup
PGParker Jackson-Cartwright (Sr)Alex Barcello (Fr)
SGAllonzo Trier (Jr)Dylan Smith (So)Brandon Randolph (Fr)
SFRawle Alkins (So)Emmanuel Akot (Fr)
PFDeAndre Ayton (Fr)Ira Lee (Fr)
CDusan Ristic (Sr)Keanu Pinder (Sr)

But we all know it’s not going to stay this way. The math won’t even allow it to stay this way because if you add in the other scholarship players you get 15 and the maximum in Division I is 13.

Other Scholarship Players (3)

GTalbott Denny (Sr)
FChase Jeter (Jr)*

(The above tables have a permanent home here and will be updated as players announce their intentions for next season.)

So who is out shopping for a draft-night suit and who will be left to Bear Down? Let’s start with the worst-case scenario and go from there.

The moment that would cause Wildcat Universe to collapse upon itself would be a press conference with Aaron Gordon, Nick Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley all declaring their college days are done. But even if that happens the starting lineup in November would probably be:

PG – T.J. McConnell
SG – Gabe York
SF – Stanley Johnson (5-star recruit)
PF – Craig Victor (5-star recruit)
C – Dusan Ristic (7-feet, 240 pounds)

How many Pac-12 programs would love to have that for a doomsday scenario?

The best case would be only Gordon leaves and someone from the Other Scholarships list chooses to take his talents elsewhere. If that comes to pass, pencil the Cats in as the preseason No. 1 and give them the inside track to that coveted 8-seed!

(Fun fact: In the past four NCAA tournaments there have been more Final Four teams seeded 7 or worse (5) than No. 1 seeds (3).)

What actually happens will probably be somewhere in between. One or two players joining Gordon in the draft would still leave a core of experienced players complimented by a new wave of big-league freshmen. There would be more than enough talent left to lose nine or 10 games!

(Fun fact II: In the past four years there have been just as many 8-seeds in the championship game as 1-seeds (2).)

So we wait. We wait while Sean Miller re-recruits his players. We wait to see if he can keep them away from Grant Jerrett’s high school coach’s brother-in-law.

And We The People wait for the list of Wildcats who will make us thankful next year.

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