Projecting Arizona Basketball's starting lineup (again) for the 2024-25 season

I watched some tape, did some more research, and realized I got quite a few things wrong last time. Let's take another swing at it.
Dayton v Arizona
Dayton v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
5 of 5

5: Center

Starter: Motiejus Krivas (Sophomore)

Jadon Jones, Aboubacar Traore, Motiejus Krivas
Long Beach State v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Motiejus Krivas is yet another player on Arizona's roster who has earned himself a nickname: Mt. Krivas. The Lithuanian center stands at eye-popping 7-foot-2 and 260 pounds, which are both the tallest and the heaviest on the team. He looked awkward at times in his freshman season last year, but there was enough promise that even Oumar Ballo — who followed Lloyd to Arizona from Gonzaga — was pushed out the door to give Krivas more playing time.

As he settles into the pace of American play and learns the finer nuances of body control, the awkward freshman will soon assume the form of an imposing enforcer in the lane. A few "gimme" shots from close range rattled out last year, but he still finished the year averaging 5.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting over 55% from the floor. The sky is the limit for the first-year starter; he just has to work the pieces into place a little more.

Backup: Tobe Awaka (Junior)

Tobe Awaka, Ryan Kalkbrenner
Creighton v Tennessee / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

This was one of my most egregious misses from May. Based purely on his smaller stature, I stuck Awaka at the backup small forward position. Despite being listed on Tennessee's roster as a forward, watching his tape for a few minutes makes it clear that he's a full-blown center. He projects to be Krivas' backup, but incoming freshman Emmanuel Stephen will contest him for that spot.

Standing at just 6-foot-8, Awaka is compact and extremely sturdy with his 250-pound weight. He's like a running back in that his lower center of gravity helps him stay balanced, and this will also allow him better leverage angles when creating room for himself in the key. He'll see the floor in small-ball situations but will take up the same mantle he had at Tennessee as a bench rotation player.

ICYMI. CB. How Carter Bryant fits into the 2024-25 equation. dark

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