Positive early returns for Arizona’s freshmen


Arizona has as much raw talent on their roster as any team in the Pac-10.

Sean Miller has made sure of it with the way he has been recruiting since landing the job in April of 2009. The issue is how much of that talent is young. The Wildcats have four talented freshmen on their roster, but the concern is over just how much they are going to be able to rely on those freshmen.

Can Josiah Turner come in and run the point immediately? Will Angelo Chol or Sidiki Johnson be able to develop into a scoring threat in the post? Is Nick Johnson ready to play major minutes in the Pac-12?

Based on the quotes that Arizona’s two seniors gave the media on Wednesday, the early returns are promising.

“All four of the freshmen pretty much came in with great attitudes and they’ve been working hard,” Jesse Perry told reporters after a practice at the McKale Center. “That’s the main thing, come in with a good attitude and be able to compete every day.”

“Our plays are very hard to learn now, jumping ball screens and stuff like that. I had trouble with that when I came here but the thing is those two guys are real gifted. Angelo Chol is a great shot-blocker and Sidiki runs the floor real well and rebounds. Both of them are doing great right now.”

Kyle Fogg was even more complimentary regarding the newcomers in the back court:

“For a freshman, he’s real vocal,” Fogg said. “You can tell Findlay (Prep, Johnson’s high school program) did a really good job with him. Sometimes you think he’s older than he really is, just in the way he really projects his voice out there and tries to help his team get better. Most freshmen are kind of timid and trying to find their place. Nick’s going to be great for us this year.”

Of point guard Josiah Turner, Fogg said: “He’s one of the fastest I’ve seen with the ball and just a tremendous passer. What you’re going to see out of Josiah is great feel for the game and he just does a great job of getting everybody open shots and making everybody look good. He really likes getting other guys shots.”

Arizona lost a lot with Derrick Williams and Momo Jones both leaving the program.

All of a sudden, Miller was left without a presence in the paint and his two best offensive weapons. The Wildcats probably have the most talent of any team in the conference, but the development of the freshmen will determine whether or not Miller’s club will be able to take advantage of that talent.

It seems like they are off to a good start.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.