Mar 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Solomon Hill (44, right) talks to guard Mark Lyons (2, left) against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second half of the semifinals of the West regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Staples Center. Ohio State defeated Arizona 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
As many know the Arizona Wildcats will lose three seniors next season (Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, and Kevin Parrom). What people don’t realize is the affect those seniors had on the team. All three of them were on and off the court leaders for the young Wildcats. They were three of the top four scorers for the Wildcats this past year. They all had played in the Sweet Sixteen prior to this year. Let’s take the time to reflect on these three seniors and what they provided to the Cats this past season.
Kevin Parrom went through so much during his four years here at the U of A, and still led by example. He played any role Sean Miller asked him to, from the bench to starter, from the four spot to the two. He gave his all every possession and at many times sparked the team with a big time basket or a huge defensive play. He decided earlier this week to hire an agent and pursue his dream of playing basketball as a career.
Mark Lyons was an interesting addition to this Wildcat team. He was originally recruited by Sean Miller to play at Xavier where he finished his schooling and played out his fifth year of eligibility here at the U of A. From the beginning he made it known this was his team. He would pull players aside in games and encourage them whether they did a good thing or bad thing. He at time put the team on his back and gave the Cats a big bucket when needed. Some argue the Cats would be better off without him and having developed Jordin Mayes more this season, but I firmly believe Lyons was all for the best for this year’s young team.
Lastly, the soft spoken Solomon Hill is the last senior leader to leave, pursing the NBA. Solomon Hill came into Tucson as the highest touted recruit of Sean Miller’s first year. He came in out of shape and worked hard at becoming the player who he is now; a solid SF who has multiple aspects to a well-rounded game. He stuffed the stat sheet in all areas and could handle the pressure when the time came to it.
So who will step up for the Wildcats this next season? Who will initiate team workouts, meetings, dinners, etc during the off-season when the coaches can’t have practice or workouts? The obvious answer for the guard position is Duquense transfer TJ McConnell and Nick Johnson. Both are known for their work ethic and will be upper-classmen this upcoming year. They will bring the team together and make the incoming freshman understand what it feels like to be part of the Wildcat Country. So who will be the big man leader for the team? One of the three soon to be sophomores will need to step into this role. Kaleb is the oldest, and all year starter, so it would make most for him to take on the challenge. Grant is known for his “do as told” and not complain personality, so him stepping into this role would also make sense. He is a natural team player and will do anything for his teammates, so taking the leadership role and organizing team events seems right up his alley. Brandon is more of a emotional leader, which also makes him a likable candidate for the big man leadership role. One thing is for certain though, all three of these young men were starting to really understand the college game and play terrific towards the end of the season. It won’t matter which of the three step up, or if one of the highly touted freshman step up, the 2013-2014 Wildcats will most definitely be a force to be reckon with.