Summer Snapshot: Point Guardby Brad Allis on Jun. 30, 2011, under Sports
The basketball season is still nearly five months away, but it is not too early to take an early look at how the roster shapes up. We’ll start by looking at the point guard position.
So MoMo Jones is gone and the Wildcat may have more overall talent at the position than they did a year ago. Jones will not be easy to replace. He was a leader and one of the players who proved he could hit big shots, but he was not a pure point guard. Prior to the Pac-10 season he was struggling, so much so that during the Bethune Cookman game I said to the person next to me “I wonder which MAAC school he’ll play at next season?” Well, I said Manhattan, it turned out to be Iona. (I also said Long Island, but they are in the Northeast Conference.)
By season’s end, I had changed my tune. The Cal game made many believers and Jones was one of the Cats’ most visible players, but he still wasn’t a point guard.
In my opinion a sophomore Jordin Mayes and a freshman Josiah Turner are more talented than a sophomore Jones and a freshman Mayes. They will miss Jones, but the talent to be better is there.
Mayes was solid all year. He was a great scoring spark off the bench (unless he was at the free throw line) and seemed to have a good feel for running the offense, even if he did not rack up a lot of assists.
Mayes came alive in the first three games of the NCAA Tournament where he hit his first six three-point shots and helped keep the Wildcats in the game with Texas, when he scored 16 points.
If he continues to develop his feel for the game and ability to run the offense, Mayes should be terrific. He’s got the length, size and quickness for the position and his ability to shoot is among the tops on the team.
As good as Mayes can be, the real test to see how good the Wildcats will be this season will be Josiah Turner. If Turner is as good as advertised, the Wildcats chances of making another deep run in the NCAA Tournament increases.
Turner has all the requisite skills to be one of the greats in Arizona’s long tradition of great point guards. Can he put it together and how fast? If he can pick up the offense, the defensive requirements that Sean Miller sets forth and adjust to the speed of the college game in relatively short order, the Cats will benefit.
How good is Turner? He is 247Sports’ 13th rated player in the 2011 recruiting class and the third highest rated point guard. Several people connected to NBA scouting have told WSR that Turner has a chance to be a “one and done” player and the NBA is certainly aware of his skills.
In a pinch Arizona can turn to other players at the point. Kyle Fogg would get the initial nod. The senior has run the point before and led the Wildcats in assists in the early part of the season.
Solomon Hill can have the offense run through him and that could be the strategy at times this season regardless of who is on the floor. Brendan Lavender has a good grasp of the system and could give the Wildcats some minutes at the one in a pinch.