The season for the Arizona Wildcats is over after a 73-70 loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Thursday night. It is always a very sad time when the team you root for has lost a game that ends their season. As sad as it is, we also saw the last game for some special Wildcats on Thursday night. So, instead of writing about what could have been, or should have been in the game, I want to focus on a few great careers.
Solomon Hill will forever be remembered as one of the most versatile Widcats in the history of the program. It’s pretty amazing to think that a guy who actually stayed 4 years for the team might not have even played a single game for the Cats. Hill originally enrolled at USC but transferred to U of A when the Tim Floyd debacle unraveled for the Trojans. He came to Arizona as one member of the original recruiting class for Sean Miller, alongside Kyryl Natyazhko, Momo Jones, Kevin Parrom, and Derrick Williams. He was outshined for his first 2 seasons at Arizona by Derrick Williams, who would eventually lead the team to an Elite 8 appearance and become the 2nd overall pick in the NBA draft. Hill always seemed like he was on a course to break out and become a star at Arizona, just like Williams, but it never happened. I really don’t want to get into the stats of these players, because that never tells the whole story about them. I think the players go beyond the stats and create a legacy on the court in plays that will be remembered, not in points per game. I remember 2 seasons ago I wrote a blog that stated Hill would lead the Pac 12 in free throws…that never happened. He did underwhelm at times, but I will never forget screaming at the perfect moment “Go coast to coast SOLO!!”, and he would oblige me by doing so (sometimes). He really did look unstoppable at times in his career, if only he could have put it all together for more stretches. He probably will not make the NBA, and wasn’t the most talented Wildcat, but he will be one of the most loved players and will be missed.
I always said that if I was playing basketball for the Wildcats, I would be a “Kevin Parrom” type of player. Parrom seemed to always make the right play and NEVER seemed phased from anything that happened on the court. The truth is, I was never as heady of a player as he was, but I would like to think I was. Parrom coined the phrase “no easy buckets” because of his hard fouls, but at the same time he was never really out of control when he did it. He was just doing his job, and his job was to adapt to the team. Whether he had to start, come off the bench, shoot 3’s, drive to the bucket, shut down a player, or make a hard foul, Coach Miller always knew he could count on Parrom. He was never flashy, and didn’t average more than 8.3 points per game in a season but he could always be counted on to do the “dirty work.” Every great team and every coach needs at least one Kevin Parrom on the team to be great. We certainly will miss ours.
Oh, Mark Lyons, how I love you and dislike you at the same time. I coined Mark early in the year as our own version of Jekyll and Hyde. When he was on, he was on, but when he was off, man did he suck. I will never be in the group of people that think we would have been better off without him. I loved Mark Lyons, and only wish we could have seen him play at the University for more than one season. It bothers me when people say, “if Lyons would have only played great for the whole game we would have won.” If Lyons would play great for an entire game at the level that he plays, he would have averaged 25 points per game, would have been an All-American, and would have been drafted #1 overall in the draft after his freshman season. As it is, we had a player that wasn’t afraid to take a shot 2 seconds into a game, or with 2 seonds left in a game. I’m sorry, but that is a rare breed!! I remember years back when we had a young freshman named Will Bynum playing at the U of A. Bynum was fearless – he would take a shot with 1 second left on the clock as a freshman. When no one else wanted the ball, he did. The reason I bring Bynum up is because he too only played one year at Arizona and then transferred after his freshman season. I really wish we could have seen Lyons play for more than one season, as he is a rare breed. He wants the ball and is not afraid of what will happen when he has it. Today’s game has evolved to the point that if you have one NBA player you can have a great team. Lyons is exactly the guy that you need alongside that NBA player. He has ice in his veins, and is truly the type of player that we RARELY will get at the U of A. I miss him already!!!!
We had a very good season and I’m sorry that it’s over. But, I LOVE the players listed above and give them applause for what they gave to the University of Arizona. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but the Senior Wildcats made an imprint on our program. Even though they will never be playing with a Wildcats jersey on again, they will be remembered.