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Expect Arizona basketball to add three or four more players for next season’s team, but with the program looking to stay atop the national college basketball conscience, let’s look at what will be needed from next year’s players for the Wildcats to maintain their elite status.
Junior point guard Kerr Kriisa: Next year will be the true test of what Kriisa is as a player. Arizona figures to fill out its roster with impact players but with the departure of Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko, Kriisa will need to average around 15 points per game and dramatically improve his shooting percentages.
Toward the end of last season, Kriisa became a much more versed passer off the dribble and he has the capability to score more but will he be able to do so with defenses more focused on him? Kriisa may struggle defensively but some added muscle will help.
Junior guard Pelle Larsson: Larsson is already established as a great standstill shooter and defender, but he is also a liability dribbling the ball. Similar to so many others on the returning roster, Larrson is clearly a valuable role player, but can he come back with an ability to make plays off the dribble? If he develops that ability this summer, he’ll become one of the better perimeter players in the conference.
Junior wing Dalen Terry: Assuming that Terry returns to school, he needs to be one of the three best players in the conference. There is no reason he can’t be. Terry’s defense is already elite, as is his rebounding and playmaking. Now it’s time to add scoring to the résumé.
Terry is more than capable. He can get to the basket and his shooting, albeit from a curious form, started to connect more as the season went on. Terry should spend all offseason looking at Andre Iguoudala tape because both players possess a similar skill set. Without question, Terry possesses the highest upside of any player for next year’s team.
Junior power forward Azuolas Tubelis: If Arizona is going to stay at the top of the national discussion, Tubelis needs to become a conference player-of-the-year candidate.
Before last season, coach Tommy Lloyd said he needed Tubelis to be a player who can take physical advantage of nearly every opponent. Tubelis is more skilled and physically bigger than most defensive players, as evidenced by the 31 points and eight rebounds he compiled as a freshman against future NBA lottery pick, Evan Mobley.
Tubelis’s basketball frame of mind is also a top concern. He struggled mightily with his confidence and clearly shrank in the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore wing Adama Bal: Bal is the wild card on the roster. Lloyd clearly has plans for Ball next season and it’s easy to see why. Ball has great length and athleticism and can also shoot the ball.
Bal will be given every opportunity to play significant minutes. He is more than capable but will he be able to make that leap in one offseason or is this more of a two-year type improvement program? Whether his true arrival comes as a sophomore or junior, Bal is clearly a keeper.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell: Nowell does not likely figure into the rotation next season.
Sophomore center Oumar Ballo: It’s obvious that Ballo will be a major contributor on any good team. He can block shots, finish around the rim and be a wide rebounding presence. There were times when the game appeared too fast for Ballo, however. Will another year in the program, with the expectation of being the guy, slow the game down for Ballo? If it does, he can become a game changer.
Freshman center Dylan Anderson: There is a wide range of opinions for Anderson, but this space is a big fan. Long and fluid with legitimate perimeter and post skills, Anderson looks like a player. His critics will say he is soft. That is probably a fair assessment right now, but the bet here is that after a few years in the Lloyd program, Anderson will be a major contributor. Just don’t expect anything this coming season.
Freshman wing Filip Borovicanin: Borovicanin is a legitimate 6-feet-8 and possesses all the perimeter skills but he also played in one of the lower divisions overseas. He’s an unknown with intriguing potential.
The remaining roster spots will be filled out by adding a center and some athleticism on the wing. The coaching staff has prioritized one big man from overseas but there is little buzz regarding the addition of ball handling and defense.
If Lloyd has shown anything, it’s that he knows what he is doing. Expect quality roster additions and for Arizona to compete for the 2023 Pac-12 championship.
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