Arizona Basketball: Parker Jackson-Cartwright is the Wildcats unsung hero

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Aaron Holiday
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Aaron Holiday /

Parker Jackson-Cartwright is Arizona Basketball’s unsung hero. It’s time to give him the spotlight and credit for helping the Wildcats to a winning regular and post-season.

He’s all grown up! I can remember when Arizona Basketball point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright was a freshman. He only played an average of 9.6 minutes per game off the bench the entire season. Looking back, almost ten minutes a game is better than most freshmen on the team this season. Jackson-Cartwright was great at driving to the basket and making acrobatic lay-ups to charge up his team when they needed it. He is also the best point guard to break the press for the Cats. Sometimes he leaves us scratching our heads thinking, ‘How did he do that?’

Ranked by Scout as the No. 32 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 5 point guard in his recruiting class, it had to be difficult for him to keep up a positive attitude. But he did, and Sean Miller has noticed his growth over his four-year college career for Arizona Basketball, just how special and crucial he is to the team’s success.

Arizona Wildcats Basketball
Arizona Wildcats Basketball /

Arizona Wildcats Basketball

Each year, just like his fellow senior teammate Dusan Ristic, he has not only earned more minutes on the court but has improved overall each season in every category. Parker has started in each game he has played this season averaging 2.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds. 1.5 steals and .1 blocks.

Yes PJC has recorded blocks. It always aggravates me when a basketball announcer calls Parker “Little guy” or anything like that. Can we just focus on what he brings to the team for crying out loud? He plays much bigger than his size, and although sometimes it might hinder him, he has figured out a way to compensate. I refuse to report his size, so there! His heart is huge, how about that!

Jackson-Cartwright is making 42.3% of his three-pointers, 75% of his free-throws and his assists and he is stealing the ball at a career-high rate. In last nights Pac-12 Tournament Semi-Final game against UCLA, which Matt Meuhlebach calls the second best rivalry in the NCAA behind Duke-UNC, the timing of Parkers steals and three’s were crucial to the win. Here are PJC’s stats going into tonight Pac-12 Championship game:

Season    G  GS     MP  FG   FG%   2P   2P%   3P   3P%   FT    FT% TRB  AST   STL BLK  PTS
’14-15   34    0     9.6  1.0  .453  0.7  .481   0.3  .391   0.6  .647   1.4   1.8    0.3   0.0   2.9
’15-16   34    6   21.2  1.7  .401  0.9  .429  0.8  .375  1.1   .649    1.6   3.4    0.6   0.2   5.2
’16-17   31  10  24.9  1.8  .429  0.9  .435  1.0  .423   1.2  .704    2.5   4.1   1.2    0.1   5.9
’17-18   33  33  31.8  2.5  .442  1.1  .468  1.4  .423   1.3  .750    2.3   4.6   1.5    0.1   7.8
Caree   132  49  21.8  1.8  .430  0.9 .452  0.9 .408   1.1  .692    1.9   3.4   0.9   0.1   5.4

Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/10/2018.

On Friday night, Parker was able to shut down elite Player of the Year contender Bruin guard Aaron Holiday. Holiday had scored 78 points (34 each) in his previous two games, and without shutting him down, Arizona may have had to fly out of Vegas earlier than they wanted to. PJC proved he is also an elite guard and shut down a player he has played against from his high school years. Holiday only scored 15 points against Arizona in the Semis.

Anthony Gimino was able to capture a snippet of the media interviewing PJC and got his take on the Holiday matchup, “I take it personal, when he [Miller] puts me on guys, and the other team thinks they can take advantage of me, I just use my quickness,” explained Parker.

Answering a question about his abilities as one of the best guards in the Pac-12, “I’m a senior, I think I have accomplished a lot in my career and I know what I can do on the floor, so I never doubt my ability, and when I face up against great guards it just brings the best out of me.”

Wildcats fans took notice:

Sean Miller commented on his senior point guard after the game on the Pac-12 Network, “..We didn’t want Aaron Holiday to do to us what he’s done recently — Parker, he really met the challenge. There aren’t many guards that can play the minutes that Parker did, 38, and defend Holiday at the level that he defended him from start to finish.”

Kevin O’Neill threw some praise to PJC during the the UCLA Semi-Final game recap on the Pac-12 Network, “[Aaron] Holiday didn’t have his best game, but that’s a credit to Parker Jackson-Cartwright, I thought he did a phenomenal job on the defensive end.”

Tonight PJC goes up against an extremely hot USC Guard Jonah Mathews who tore up the Oregon Ducks in his Semi-Final game scoring a team-high 27 points to advance to the finals. USC convincingly beat Oregon 74-54. Oregon is one of four conference losses for Arizona albeit, they did not have Coach Miller and came close in the road loss. Arizona beat USC at home.

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According to Team Rankings, Arizona has a 60% chance to beat USC tonight. PJC played 38 minutes last night and stayed strong through overtime. With PJC guarding Mathews, assuming he keeps up his intensity and confidence, Arizona should win the game tonight, and we should make sure we sing PJC’s praises!