If Arizona basketball is to have a special season with legitimate national title aspirations, the Wildcats freshmen are going to play a large role in that success. Sean Miller's squad suffered the loss of four important players from this year's Sweet 16 run, and these three freshmen will need to fill the voids.
However, as Sean Miller has built the Arizona program for reloading and not rebuilding, not all three of these guys will have the same significance on this roster. This slideshow gives a brief look at each recruit and what is likely to be expected from him in his freshman season.
Elliott Pitts is going to have a tough time getting on the court this coming year. While not as strong as the frontcourt, the backcourt has a ton of talent. At the shooting guard slot, Pitts will be behind junior Nick Johnson and sophomore Gabe York. Also in the backcourt will be junior T.J. McConnell and senior Jordin Mayes.
These are four solid and experienced players who will compete with Pitts for playing time. Add to this that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson probably will play the 2 occasionally, and Pitts' chances become even less likely.
Pitts is a good player who will make a difference. But that difference probably won't be made for a couple of years.
Projected Stat Line: about 5 minutes per game, less than 3.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
To start the season, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is going to be the first guy coming off the bench (now that Grant Jerrett is gone) for Miller's 2013-14 Wildcats. By the midway point, I would not be surprised if he were starting.
Hollis-Jefferson is a jack-of-all-trades player. He does a bit of everything and adds flexibility to the lineup. Because Hollis-Jefferson can handle the ball, a point guard doesn't always need to be on the floor. He could play with Nick Johnson in the backcourt.
Or Coach Miller could go small (not really small though—Hollis-Jefferson is taller and longer than Solomon Hill, who played a lot of power forward in his junior year), play Hollis-Jefferson at the 3 and have McConnell and Johnson at the guard slots. Hollis-Jefferson brings a lot of versatility to the team.
He also contributes a great deal of basketball IQ (which was sorely missed last season), shooting, solid passing, tenacious defense and a knack for winning. In summation, Hollis-Jefferson will be a valuable piece to the Arizona Wildcats' run next year.
Projected Stat Line: 11 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 block
Sean Miller plays his stars a lot (three guys played more than 30 minutes a game last year). Next season, Aaron Gordon will be right up there in minutes with Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell. Being on the court so much will give him the chance to put up monster numbers.
He will also play small forward, which will give him the opportunity to be all over the court. He will post up and handle the ball. He will play down low and take 15-to-20-foot jumpers. Just working through the offense alone translates into a lot of scoring chances.
Then, because he is so long and athletic and has a motor that never stops, he is going to get a lot of easy baskets as well. Getting out on the break, offensive rebounds, steals and deflections will pad his numbers in Miller's motion scheme.
Gordon is the total package and will be one of the Pac-12 leaders in points, rebounds and blocks.
Projected Stat Line: 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.5 steals