All-American forward Derrick Williams is headed to the NBA, point guard MoMo Jones is transferring and veteran Jamelle Horne is out of eligibility. All of a sudden an Arizona team that reached the Elite Eight last season doesn’t look all that, well … elite.
Things could soon change.
This summer coach Sean Miller will welcome the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class to Tucson. Arizona’s four-man haul includes two players – point guard Josiah Turner and shooting guard Nick Johnson – ranked among the country’s top 20 prospects by Rivals.com. Turner is No. 11 and Johnson is No. 18.
Also headed to Arizona are center Angelo Chol (No. 73) and power forward Sidiki Johnson (No. 84). Chol is known for his rebounding and shot-blocking ability while Johnson is a tough, rugged player who can be an intimidating presence down low.
All four freshmen are expected to play a factor on a team seeking its second straight league title.
Arizona isn’t the only Pac-12 school expecting big things from its newcomers. Here is a list of fresh faces to look for in 2011-12.
Josiah Turner, Arizona, PG – The addition of Turner – who some believe is the top point guard prospect in the country – will make the loss of All-American forward Derrick Williams a little easier to absorb. Don’t be surprised if the 6-foot-3 Turner is the best player on Arizona’s team next season. He’s a big-time scorer, although he has a tendency to force things that aren’t there.
Tony Wroten, Washington, PG – The 6-foot-4 Wroten arrives at just the right time for the Huskies, who lost Isaiah Thomas to the NBA draft. Wroten is a left-hander whose power and size (206 pounds) helps him absorb contact and finish around the rim. Wroten – the 14th-ranked player in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com – still needs to work on his outside shot.
Nick Johnson, Arizona, SG – Wildcats fans would love to see a backcourt featuring Turner and the 6-foot-3 Johnson, a combo guard known for his athleticism and highlight reel dunks in transition. A highly competitive player, Johnson takes pride in playing defense and is also a nifty passer. He’s not incredibly long, which is one of the few knocks on the nation’s 18th-ranked player.
Jabari Brown, Oregon, SG – Dana Altman’s most high-profile signee to date is regarded as one of the best long-range shooters in the Class of 2011. But he’s also good at getting to the basket. When he’s hot Brown has the capability to take over a game. The 6-foot-3 Brown needs to continue to improve his rebounding and overall consistency.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State, PG – Carson stands just 5-foot-11 and only weighs 160 pounds, but Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek is hoping his speed and quickness make up for the lack of size. Carson changes speeds well and is also a threat from 3-point range. There are moments, though, when Carson tries to do too much instead of being patient and letting things develop.
Carlon Brown, Colorado, G – Brown entered his name in the NBA draft after averaging a team-high 12.6 points for Utah in 2009-10. When it became obvious he wouldn’t be selected in the first round, he withdrew and transferred to Colorado, where he sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. With Cory Higgins graduating and Alec Burks headed to the pros, Brown will be one of the Buffaloes’ top players.
Aaron Fuller, USC, F – The former Iowa star earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after averaging a team-high 12.3 points for the Hawkeyes two years ago. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Fuller will provide some much-needed size down low following the loss of forwards Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic, the latter of whom left school early for the NBA draft.
David and Travis Wear, UCLA, F – The twins combined to average 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds for North Carolina in 2009-10. Their decision to transfer that summer caught Tar Heels coach Roy Williams completely off guard. At UCLA they’ll be part of a stacked frontcourt that also includes Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith.
De’End Parker, UCLA, G – A 6-foot-5 combo guard from City College of San Francisco, Parker originally committed to Cal before switching to UCLA. He played both guard positions in junior college, where he averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as a sophomore. The departures of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee could lead to some quick playing time for Parker.
Carlos Emory, Oregon, SF – Emory averaged 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds for Howard College in Big Spring, Texas as a sophomore last season. Those numbers came despite a bout with colitis that caused Emory to lose 35 pounds. Emory stands 6-foot-7 and, when healthy, weighs around 225 pounds. He excels in a fast-paced game and loves to play above the rim.
Chris Colvin, Arizona State, PG – Colvin began his career at Iowa State before transferring to Palm Beach Community College in Florida, where he played last season. A Chicago native, Colvin led his high school team to a state championship in 2009. He’ll be expected to step in and play immediately for the Sun Devils, who finished at the bottom of the league standings last season.
Jeremy Adams, Colorado, SG – Adams began his career at Texas A&M and redshirted as a freshman in 2009-10. He spent last season at Navarro (Texas) Junior College and averaged 12.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 wing/shooting guard has two seasons of eligibility remaining.