Arizona senior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright has been viewed as a weak link for the Wildcats as they attempt to chase a national championship this season.
The 5-foot-11 Jackson-Cartwright hasn’t put up gaudy numbers during his time in Tucson, but Arizona head coach Sean Miller believes that his floor general is doing a great job with the little things when it comes to running a team. Jackson-Cartwright has had an up-and-down career at Arizona — backing up T.J. McConnell then splitting time with Kadeem Allen the past few seasons — but he’s been playing well in the role that Miller wants him to play.
Speaking with Arizona media earlier this week, including Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, Miller mentioned Jackson-Cartwright’s solid assist-to-turnover ratio as well as his ability to knock down open threes.
“Parker has done a real good job in a quiet way,” Miller said to Pascoe. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit because he’s not a high scorer but you have to remember the team that he’s playing on — in some ways he’s the perfect point guard for this team.”
Miller specifically cited how Jackson-Cartwright has been even better since the return of sophomore Rawle Alkins, as he doesn’t have to look to score as often with another weapon on the floor.
“With Rawle back, we have two wings who can score. We have a good low-post game. What Parker does is what a lot of coaches would love their point guard to do. He sits on a 3-1 assist-turnover ratio. Last game he was 6-1. And he’s shooting high percentage from 3,” Miller said. “A lot like [Utah point guard Justin] Bibbins, you can’t leave Parker alone. And as you decide what to do – trapping, double teaming our post guys, or trying to crowd the court against Rawle or Allonzo, Parker is continuously in position to take 3s and make those and he’s done a great job until now of doing that and I expect him to continue to shoot the ball well.”
Perhaps Jackson-Cartwright hasn’t lived up to his lofty recruiting ranking coming out of high school, but he’s been a factor when Arizona was successful the past two seasons. After recovering from a high ankle sprain last season, Jackson-Cartwright had some flashes of strong play. During an eight-game stretch from Feb. 16 to March 11, Jackson-Cartwright went 17-for-25 from three-point range as the Wildcats went 7-1 to close out the season with a Pac-12 Tournament title before the NCAA tournament.
Then in the NCAA tournament, Jackson-Cartwright struggled on some occasions, with subpar outings against Saint Mary’s and in the loss to Xavier.
If Arizona is to win the national championship this season, they’re going to need Jackson-Cartwright to knock down open threes and continue to take care of the ball as he’s done in recent games. Jackson-Cartwright hasn’t scored in double-figures in a month and Arizona is riding an eight-game winning streak.
Although Jackson-Cartwright might not be as talented as some of the title-winning floor generals of the past few seasons (Joel Berry, Ryan Arcidiacono, Tyus Jones), his supporting cast is loaded. Miller expressed his belief that Jackson-Cartwright is perfect for this team. Now it’s on Jackson-Cartwright to continue to do the little things while getting guys like Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier the ball.