Arizona Wildcats men's basketball once again took center stage as a collection of media members that cover the sport for the Pac-12 released their preseason rankings.
The poll confirmed what the rest of the country has known for a while—the race between the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins is going to be a close one.
With a total of 403 points, Arizona edged out UCLA by a single point. UCLA finished the poll with 16 first-place votes as opposed to Arizona’s 15 with the Cal Bears and Washington Huskies receiving three and two votes respectively.
There was a major shake up in Tucson over the offseason for Coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats with the departures of Josiah Turner and Kyryl Natyazhko. Adding to the mixture was seven new players, including four incoming freshmen.
This class has been touted as one of the best in the country with two big men, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett.
Tarczewski, the 7', 230-pound center, signed with Arizona after last years Red and Blue Game where he met other Arizona signees, and they bonded immediately. I am sure his decision was aided by the lovely weather in Arizona as opposed to the constant onslaught of snow in his native New Hampshire.
His huge presence will be a definite plus to the Wildcats inside game as will his defense and toughness around the basket. Look for Tarczewski to make an immediate impact.
Jerrett was the most heralded recruit coming to Arizona this year. The 6'10", 220-pound center/power forward out of Chino, CA was ranked at No. 9 on the ESPN 100. This smart, tough player will dominate the boards as well as hit shots from medium range.
He is capable from long range as well which makes Jerrett a threat whenever he is on the court. He will most likely be the starting center for the Wildcats this season and into future barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Things are becoming clearer for UCLA after receiving the good news that freshman sensation Kyle Anderson was cleared to play. It is now imperative for the NCAA to focus on the bigger prize for the Bruins, freshman phenom Shabazz Muhammad.
Muhammad and his parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, are being investigated to see whether Muhammad received improper benefits while in high school.
If Muhammad is cleared and joins the the Bruins this season, it will definitely make the team and the Conference a force to be reckoned with.