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Grant Jerrett turns pro after one season; what’s next for Arizona?

Grant Jerrett

Grant Jerrett dunks for two points vs. Ohio State. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

So, Arizona Wildcats freshman post player Grant Jerrett is going pro after one season.

There were plenty of reports Wednesday night that the decision had been made, and the school made it official with an announcement at about 9:30 p.m.

“I would like to thank all Wildcat fans, my teammates and coaches for making my year in Tucson an incredible experience,” Jerrett said in a release. “I will forever be an Arizona Wildcat.”

This follows a few days of speculation that Jerrett was, surprisingly, going to do just this — throw his name into the NBA Draft, even though he’s not considered first-round stock (at this point) and isn’t even a lock to be drafted.

He has loads of upside — and the NBA sure loves itself a load of upside — as a 6-10 forward with a huge wingspan and a nice 3-point shot.

But it was clear that he lacked appropriate strength as a college freshman, and it’s nearly impossible to see him guarding anybody in the NBA as 20-year-old.

Said UA coach Sean Miller: “I would like to wish Grant well as he pursues his goal of becoming a part of the NBA. “Not only is Grant a talented player, but he is an even better person with a wonderful and supportive family. I look forward to helping him in any way that I can as he moves forward in his basketball career.”

Jerrett averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds last season in 17.8 minutes per game, also shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range (32 of 79). Those aren’t the type of numbers from your usual one-and-done college player … but we might have to wait a few years to determine the wisdom of Jerrett’s decision.

(My prediction: Jerrett will go in the second round, but he’ll have to go a team that can be patient.)

Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com reported that Jerrett is likely to sign with agent Brian Dyke of Shibumi Sports. Dyke is the husband of Cynthia Cooper, who is the sister of Eric Cooper Sr., who was Jerrett’s high school school at La Verne (Calif.) Lutheran. That circle could make you wonder about what kind of advice Jerrett was getting.

Related to that, Eric Cooper Jr., a guard, de-committed from Arizona earlier this week.

As for Arizona, the Wildcats have enough depth in the frontcourt to absorb Jerrett’s loss, except for this — none of the team’s five post players can replicate Jerrett’s 3-point accuracy. It will still be a season of high expectations for the Cats, but 3-point shooting will linger now as an even bigger preseason question.

Unless Miller does something about it.

While Jerrett departs, five-star freshman forward Aaron Gordon officially signed his letter-of-intent on Wednesday, which means Arizona has 11 players on scholarship, two under the limit.

The Cats will have only one senior next season — Jordin Mayes — so they have, as of now, three scholarships for the Class of 2014, in which point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is already committed. Miller and his staff are hot on the trail of other five-star prospects, and UA wants to keep its scholarships available to sign them.

In the short term, though, Miller could try to bring in a one-year graduate transfer as he did last season with point guard Mark Lyons. If there are any such hot-shooting wings out there, that would be a good answer for Arizona for 2013-14, while not using that scholarship beyond next season.

Here is how Arizona’s roster looks right now:

C — Kaleb Tarczewski
PF/C — Angelo Chol, Matt Korcheck
PF/SF — Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon
SF — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
SG — Nick Johnson, Gabe York, Elliott Pitts
PG — T.J. McConnell, Jordin Mayes (also a shooting guard)

That’s still the best team in the Pac-12.

Jerrett’s departure seems to hurt more for the 2014-15 season. Could Tarczewski, Ashley and Gordon all leave after next season, forcing Miller to reload again? Stranger things have happened.

After all, Jerrett just turned pro.


Grant Jerrett

Grant Jerrett reacts after Arizona’s loss to Ohio State in the Sweet 16. Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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