When it comes to new uniforms and sleek designs, I think Arizona sophomore point guard MoMo Jones has it right.
“It’s just a uniform,” he said.
“He’s lying,” said senior forward Jamelle Horne.
Well, either way, you will be hearing a lot about Arizona men’s basketball uniforms this week, because the Wildcats will debut new ones Thursday night at home against UCLA on ESPN2. Arizona will wear red, white and blue versions for the rest of the season.
While much of the new look is still protected under a Nike need-to-know basis — no photos have been released, and coach Sean Miller said there is some stuff about them he shouldn’t say — we do know this:
Like many of the new Nike Hyper Elite uniforms, the back of the jersey will be adorned with a screen-printed design unique to that school. The jersey number is put on over the print.
“I’m going to tell you this, I don’t think there is nicer uniform in college basketball than ours,” Miller said. “You’ll see that these are spectacular.”
While much of this is cosmetic, there is a practical element to it. Horne, who said Tuesday afternoon he hasn’t actually see the new uniforms yet, said they are supposed to be “paper light.” He said: “The jerseys we have now are kind of heavy around the shoulders.”
Then there is the matter of perception.
Don’t the very best programs wear the very latest gear?
“I’m excited for our players,” Miller said.
“Part of what you want to do when you sign up to come to Arizona is you want to be associated with those elite programs who have won a national championship, that get the best and are treated the best.
“We’re that type of program. And I think our uniforms will really reflect that. And they do now, but this is the latest version.”
Arizona has worn its current uniforms since March 2007. Miller said neither he nor the players had any input in new design.
“I go along with the program. I’m just a cog in that wheel,” Miller said.
“They (Nike) look at our program in a very positive way because of Coach (Lute) Olson and all the players and the winning that was done a long time before I got here. That’s why we’re treated the way we’re treated. Usually, when they step in and move forward, it’s going to be something that is really beneficial to all of us.”
But while Arizona could be outfitted in sartorial splendor on Thursday night, it isn’t going to help Jesse Perry grab a loose ball, or make Kyle Fogg hit a 3-pointer, or let Horne jump higher or help Jones dribble into the lane.
“It’s just a shirt on your body and some shorts, and go out and play,” Jones said. “The uniform doesn’t make you.”