In the first half of No. 1 Arizona’s 60-58 loss at Cal late Saturday night, sophomore forward Brandon Ashley went down with a right foot injury. Given how well the San Francisco native has played for the Wildcats this season, to lose Ashley for an extender period of time would be a major blow for the team to absorb.
Sunday evening Arizona announced via statement that Ashley will miss the remainder of the season as a result of the injury, a broken right foot.
“Last night, early in our Cal game, Brandon Ashley suffered a foot injury that will end his season,” head coach Sean Miller said in the statement. “While we’re all disappointed, we are also aware that Brandon needs our support and positive energy surrounding him. Someone once told me, the hottest heat forges the strongest steel. This adversity will ultimately make Brandon and our team stronger moving forward.”
After averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman Ashley was a much-improved player for the Wildcats in 2013-14. In 22 games Ashley was averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, shooting 52.7% from the field. With his ability to score both inside and out, Ashley was a key figure in one of the country’s best front court rotations.
Now that Ashley’s sidelined for the remainder of the season even more will be asked of starters Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski. And it’s likely that freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will move into the starting lineup, with Gordon playing the majority of his minutes at the four.
When Tarczewski missed time due to a sprained ankle, it was Hollis-Jefferson moving into the starting lineup so he does have experience in that role. Arizona still has plenty of talent, but to lose a starter of Ashley’s caliber is a significant loss for the Wildcats to absorb.