Arizona Basketball: A whole new look for the 2020-21 season

The 2019-20 Arizona Basketball season has ended, time to look ahead to see what’s in store for the 2020-21 season.

It has been quite a crazy last several days in the world of sports, especially for the NCAA. For Arizona Basketball, like every other college basketball program, they have to look ahead to next season. The 2019-20 season ended in a way no one imagined, but it happened and there is only one direction to go from here, forward. We take a look at what the 2020-21 season may look like for the Wildcats.

Crazy to think by the time next season starts, the Wildcats will have a whole new starting line up. The three freshmen that made up the starting five all season, Nico Mannion, Josh Green, and Zeke Nnaji are all likely to be leaving for the NBA. Then you have Dylan Smith, who was a senior and graduate transfer Stone Gettings, both leaving. Plus, Chase Jeter, who started the season, but later came off the bench and saw less and less minutes due to back issues, is leaving as well.

Let’s not forget UC Irvine transfer Max Hazzard, who didn’t play at the end of the season due to personal reasons, but when he did play, he was an immediate impact player because of his ability to shoot the long ball.

For the 2020-21 season, one thing can be guaranteed, there will be a whole new starting lineup. It will be interesting to see who makes up the starting five. Head coach Sean Miller will have some options.

The Wildcats will likely have Jemarl Baker, Ira Lee, Christian Koloko back and hopefully Brandon Williams as well. Plus, transfer James Akinjo, and Jordan Brown, Dalen Terry and Ben Mathurin will be joining the roster and maybe five-star Ziaire Williams and possibly another transfer or two.

Experience and leadership will be one of the differences when looking ahead to next season’s team for this past season’s team. During the 2019-20 season, at times it felt like this team needed someone to step up and be able to handle clutch situations. Nico Mannion tried to be that individual but was too much pressure for him to be under. Players like Baker, Akinjo, and Williams have the qualities to get Arizona over the hump in close games.

It will also be interesting to see how Koloko develops next season. He will play a more significant role as a starting center, alongside Lee down low. The Wildcats won’t quite have the depth they had this past season in the frontcourt with the loss of Nnaji and Gettings, but if they are able to land five-star recruit Ziaire Williams it would be huge for the Wildcats down low. He brings versatility on both ends of the court and can even hit game-winners at the buzzer!

There are a lot of unknowns for next season, including how the current incoming freshman, Terry and Mathurin, will handle their roles on the team. Because this team is losing seven players, there will be gaps to be filled and everyone, including the freshman, will need to step up.

No matter who’s on the court, starting or coming off the bench, next season will be one not to be missed.

At Zona Zealots, we now wait to see what next season’s roster will look like. This past season the Wildcats lost a lot of close games and hopefully will this whole new lineup things will be different. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!