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The meaning of Dalen Terry's draft decision

Mike Luke Avatar
May 27, 2022

It’s not often an entire basketball team’s immediate future revolves around the decision of one player.

But the Arizona Wildcats squad will be a national title contender if Dalen Terry comes back to Tucson for his junior season.

If Terry stays in the draft Arizona transitions to more of a national top-20 team.

Terry staying in the draft isn’t definitive but let’s look at what a Wildcat team with Terry next season would look like.

In the up-tempo, 3-point driven landscape of college basketball, players like Terry don’t come around frequently.

An all-conference defender in 2022, Terry has all the tools necessary to win the 2023 conference defensive player of the year award.

Equipped with elite lateral quickness, innate instincts and a longer-than-average wingspan, Terry is already an NBA-caliber defender, but there is still a lot to improve upon.

Terry’s offense needs some refinement but he has a strong core to build from.

Listed as a 6-foot-7 small forward, Terry’s advanced ballhandling skills hover somewhere between a point and shooting guard skill level.

In any system Terry’s next level handle pairs nicely with the vision that led him to dish out 3.9 assists per game.

Terry’s set shot and off-the dribble jumper are much more problematic.

His shot form has always lacked as the hitch in his jumper can lead to an inconsistent release point. Terry’s off the dribble shooting game is non-existent.

In second-year Coach Tommy Lloyd, Terry has an offensive-minded coach who unwrapped a new version of Terry last season.

Gone was the robotic-rebound-then pass-to-the-closest-guard, Terry; in was a wing
occasionally leading the fast break and dunking in traffic or dishing the ball off to a big man for a dunk.

With Arizona losing its leading perimeter scorer in Benn Mathurin and its best big man Christian Koloko, Terry would be able to show off the scoring, playmaking and ability the NBA wants him so badly to showcase.

Next year’s Arizona basketball roster, in need of a conductor, for its host of finishers, has the perfect solution in Terry.

Forward Azuolas Tubelis and guards Kerr Kriisa and Pelle Larrson are all players that would benefit immensely from Terry’s ability to get the lane.

A starting lineup of 6-foot-2 Kriisa, 6-foot-5 Larrson, 6-foot-8 Terry, 6-foot-10 Tubelis, and 7-footers, Oumar Ballo and Henri Veesar matches up with almost any team from a size, athleticism, shooting and experience perspective.

If Terry stays in the draft, Arizona is sorely missing perimeter athleticism, and a player who can get more stationary players the ball in advantageous to scores.

Arizona is the type of program that will be able to lure in another capable small forward starter. Kentucky-transfer Keion Brooks Jr. has a final three destination list with Arizona in it.

But a player like Brooks with averages of 10.8 point, 4.4 rebounds and 1 assist per game doesn’t impact the game in the facilitator role that Terry does.

And that is not a knock on Brooks but a testament to the unique skills that Terry possesses.

From defense to offense, Dalen Terry is the linchpin for what 2022 Arizona should aspire to be and the perfect type of player to expand his skills in a Tommy Lloyd-offense

Terry’s presence is the difference in competing for a national championship or not.

Follow Mike Luke on twitter @ironmikeluke

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