In the spirit of the San Antonio Spurs’ accomplished trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker advancing to yet another NBA Western Conference finals, here’s a look at the best Arizona three-player combinations over the years:
1. Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott and Anthony Cook: They each were selected to the All-Pac-10 First Team in 1987-88, Arizona’s first Final Four season. That was the first time the Wildcats had three first-team all-conference selections since 1950-51, when Bob Honea, Roger Johnson and Leo Johnson were first-team All-Border Conference selections. Kerr, Elliott and Cook started together for two seasons and were also responsible for the Wildcats winning their first Pac-10 title in the 1985-86 season, when Elliott and Cook were freshmen.
2. Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon: Arizona has rarely had an offensive threesome like Bibby, Dickerson and Simon. They were All-Pac-10 first-team selections in 1997-98, a year after they led the UA to its first national championship. Dickerson was a first-teamer in 1996-97 and Simon and Bibby were honorable-mention selections. Bibby was the league’s freshman of the year in Arizona’s championship season. They accounted for 50.8 points a game in 1996-97. That was a phenomenal 60.6 percent of Arizona’s output in its championship season.
3. Al Fleming, Bob Elliott and Jim Rappis: Fleming and Elliott are two of the most accomplished players statistically in Arizona history while Rappis is one of the most inspirational. They were a significant reason why Arizona came one game away from the school’s first Final Four trip in 1975-76. Fleming and Elliott combined for 34 points and 20.3 rebounds a game that season. Rappis incredibly had more assists (12) than the entire UNLV team in Arizona’s historic 114-109 overtime win over the Rebels and Jerry Tarkanian in the NCAA West Regional Semifinals. Rappis injured his left heel with 5:57 left in the first half but continued to play despite being hobbled throughout. He also finished with 24 points.
4. Ray Owes, Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves: This trio was essential in Arizona reaching the Final Four in 1993-94, although the Wildcats had quality players supporting them. Joseph Blair and Reggie Geary and others were valuable to the team’s success. Owes, Stoudamire and Reeves were the unmistakable leaders. They combined for 54.3 points and 16.9 rebounds a game. Stoudamire and Reeves had an impressive 311 assists. Reeves scored a school-record 848 points in 1993-94. He managed to score that much thanks significantly to Stoudamire’s assist production and Owes’ rebounding ability.
5. Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise: This trio of talent was responsible for Arizona staying afloat in the second season (2008-09) of interim staffs during Lute Olson’s retirement phase. Budinger and Hill were first-team All-Pac-10 selections and Wise was a second-teamer that season. Without them, Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell would not have won more than seven games. With them, Arizona advanced to the Sweet 16. They averaged a combined 52 points a game that year. The rest of the team averaged only 23.2 points a game.