Arizona coach Sean Miller has some straight talk for senior-to-be Jamelle Horne.
“He has to do a better job of being a teammate. A better job of being about one thing only — winning. A better job of having a positive body language, regardless of whether things are going well for him,” Miller said Monday.
“He is going to have to really do some things this spring, summer and fall that will allow all of us to say, ‘You know what, Jamelle Horne had a great senior year.’”
Horne has been one of the most vexing Wildcats to come through the program in recent years. On the positive side is his athleticism. On the other side has been everything else: Low basketball IQ. Immaturity. Inconsistency.
You’ve seen it. You know the drill.
“Jamelle and I have had one talk, and he’s done a really, really good job since our season has ended — working hard, doing the right things,” Miller said. “That is way more important than any talk we can have. But we are going to have a number of others.”
Jamelle, a 6-foot-7 forward, will be the only senior on the team next season (although center Alex Jacobson will be a fourth-year junior).
Miller notes that Horne, like some of the others in the Arizona program, has never had offseason stability. For the first time in his UA career, Horne has the same coach and the same way of doing things for more than 12 consecutive months.
“Perhaps that can bring out his best in his final year,” Miller said. “I also recognize that for our team to be best we can be, he’s going to have to change. And he knows that.”
Horne averaged 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, and he surprisingly was the team’s best 3-point shooter, hitting 50 of 115 for 43.5 percent. But being physical hasn’t been part of his game, and for all his athleticism, he isn’t a dribble-drive kind of player.
He started 28 games last season, which is no guarantee of playing time next season. Arizona will have sophomore-to-be Kevin Parrom for a full season, and he fits the profile Miller is looking for in a wing player — a tough guy who can play defense.
Arizona also is expected to sign junior college forward Jesse Perry on Wednesday and is still in the hunt for power forward Kadeem Jack, from Rice High in Manhattan, N.Y. (Miller said Monday he hopes to add one player to this recruiting class, which includes signed shooting guard Daniel Bejarano and committed guard Jordin Mayes.)
Miller says, “I believe I owe Jamelle that,” referring to trying to get the best out of Horne as a senior. The coach says he sees it all the time — a player finally “gets it” as the finality of his senior season hits home.
“That is something you want in your program. You want seniors to go above and beyond and have the best year of their career,” Miller said, referencing the impact center Brian Zoubek had as a senior in helping Duke to the national championship.
Miller also said he’s tried to help seniors in the past and had to “throw him off in midseason, in terms of it wasn’t working for him and wasn’t working for our team.”
Bottom line: It’s up to Horne.
He has the talent to help.
Does he have the work ethic, the attitude and the desire?
“It’s a very crucial part of our success next year that Jamelle has the right perspective on his last year and is able to do some things the right way,” Miller said.
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