It was Grant Jerrett’s turn Tuesday night.
That’s the way it is going to be for Arizona’s three freshman big men. Not every one is going to be hot at the same time. But the chances of at least one playing his best — or close to it — is really good.
Yeah … it’s good to be deep.
With 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski burdened with foul trouble for the second consecutive game, the 6-10 Jerrett had what coach Sean Miller called “the best game of his career,” helping fourth-ranked Arizona easily dispatch Oral Roberts 89-64 at McKale Center.
Jerrett scored a career-high 15 points and had four rebounds in 21 minutes. He shot 6 of 8 from the field, including all three of his 3-point attempts.
“Grant, for a long period of time, might have been our team’s best player in practice,” Miller said.
“Early in a guy’s career, through the first five or six games, sometimes it doesn’t translate into the game. Tonight was more of what we see all the time. He’s a really good shooter; one of our team’s best shooters.
“He had a couple of inside baskets, which was great to see, but he does that in practice. What you saw out there is who we’ve seen for a long period of time.”
Jerrett started the first two games before giving way to Brandon Ashley at the power forward spot. Ashley was good, too, against Oral Roberts, with 14 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes for the 9-0 Wildcats.
“They’re learning. They’re letting the game come to them,” senior forward Solomon Hill said of Jerrett and Ashley.
“These are two patient guys who are still learning and who are still finding their way in the offense. Grant had a great shooting night tonight and Brandon was efficient.”
(It should also be noted that sophomore post Angelo Chol came off the bench to provide six rebounds in 13 minutes. He’s not as skill offensively as the trio of freshman big men but he is always working hard around the basket.)
(Note again: Tarczewski, limited to 16 minutes before fouling out, was 4 of 4 from the field.)
Miller, without a legit post player last season, is flush with options.
He said Jerrett’s second half against Florida on Saturday — five points and a block in the final 10:36 — carried over into Tuesday night’s game.
“Sometimes you just need that ball to go into the basket. You just need a good play to happen,” Miller said. “It happened for him in the Florida game.”
Jerrett is averaging 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game. His previous scoring high was 11 points at Texas Tech.
“Just stay aggressive and stay confident whenever I catch the ball,” he said of the keys to his play. “Just make the simple play.”
While there will be unavoidable ups-and-downs for the three freshman big men, there is no hand-wringing about their long-term prognosis or about them adhering to the process that will enable them to go for good to great.
Miller doesn’t have to wrestle with bad attitudes or work ethic with these guys. Speaking of which, Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson made his Providence debut Tuesday night with four points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.
Miller calls the collective character of this freshman class — which includes guard Gabe York — one of the identities of the team.
“Grant is just a phenomenal kid,” Miller said.
“He’s one of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever been around. It’s only a matter of time before his talent will take over. …
“He does exactly what you ask of him. He’s the same every day in practice. Grant Jerrett broke out tonight. If he plays along these lines every game, it’s exciting to think about what he can do.”