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Wildcats notebook: figuring out the transfer portal

Mike Luke Avatar
June 8, 2022

The announcement that Kentucky-transfer Keion Brooks Jr. will play basketball next season for the Washington Huskies is certainly a blow to the Arizona basketball program.

Arizona has a glaring hole at the small forward position, a position that Brooks would have likely filled to the tune of 30 minutes per game.

One of the few concerns Wildcats fans had early in the Lloyd tenure was whether the first-year coach could recruit.

The commitments from 5-star guards Kylan Boswell and KJ Lewis alleviated those concerns.

“It was the way he prioritized me,” Boswell said. “He let me know he offers very few players and they take their time to make sure it’s a good fit.”

This is a unique but certainly plausible recruiting approach when it comes to high school or junior college players but it’s far less tenable when it comes to the transfer portal.

Lloyd has talked many times about building a program but when it comes to the portal it’s important to prioritize players early because of the fast-paced nature of the relocation process.

Arizona has missed on almost all its portal targets this off-season and it will be interesting to see if Lloyd takes a different approach in coming years.

_The news that junior power forward Azuolas Tubelis will be out this summer while rehabbing a wrist injury is another blow to the Wildcats.

With the departures of Benn Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry, the Wildcats need Tubelis to be the unquestioned best player; and this summer is important for Tubelis to grow physically and mature mentally

__The 2022 Arizona football recruiting class was notable for its impressive talent but also for the impactful players at the quarterback and wide receiver positions.

Don’t be surprised if the 2023 class turns out to be equally as talented but with a slightly-lesser star average.

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch talked repeatedly about the need to get bigger on both sides of the offensive and defensive line and part of that goal came to fruition with the commitments from Corona (Calif.) Centennial defensive lineman Lucas Conti and Carlsbad (New Mexico) Carlsbad Tylen Gonzalez.

Both players project quality upside and should fit in well to Arizona strength coach Tyler Owens’ strength program.

Unlike the wide receiver position, there are generally about five defensive lineman each year that grade out as elite-level immediate-impact talents. And a good percentage of those kids end up at SEC schools.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough talent to go around.

“The key to recruiting lineman at a school like Arizona is to find late bloomers with long frames and broad shoulders who can also move,” said ex-Arizona offensive lineman and 5-time Super Bowl starter Glenn Parker.

“You just have to have an eye for talent. Arizona was able to get those types of players in the 80s and 90s and Jedd will as well.”

Expect more line commitments to be announced in the coming weeks and for the commitments to mirror the type of resumes Parker talked about.

__Arizona Baseball (39-25 )finished up its first year under Chip Hale with a devastating 22-6 loss to Ole Miss in the NCAA regionals. And the game highlighted some of the issues Hale will have to work on this summer.

Those issues start and end with pitching. The departure of renowned pitching coach Nate Yeskie showed this past season as the Cats ERA skyrocketed from 4.60 to 5.04.

Factor in the presumed losses of all-american catcher Daniel Susac and outfielder Tanner O’Tremba, and Hale has his work cut out for him.

There is very little data available for high school baseball recruits but Hale has signed a full class and will need immediate contributors.

__The story of Caitlin Lowe’s first season as Arizona softball coach will be the resurrection of the season from an 0-8 conference start to the unexpected birth in the Women’s College World Series.

As valiant as the team’s effort was, it also must be acknowledged that the talent isn’t present for Arizona to compete against the very best teams in the country. And that starts with pitching.

Sophomore Devyn Netz will return next season looking to improve upon her 15-7 record and 3.45 ERA while being pushed by incoming-freshman and Gatorade California Player of the Year pitcher Sydney Somerndike.

A lot of pressure will be on Somerndike to come in and be the innings-eating pitcher that made Arizona softball such a dominant entity for decades.

With four other elite prospects coming in as well, expect a talented youth movement to start in full next season

Follow Mike Luke on twitter @ironmikeluke

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