Arizona Wildcats Basketball: Josiah Turner and Sean Miller's 4 Stud Freshmen
Don't grovel long, Tucson. Sean Miller is back to end the misery.
Sure, Mike Stoops is a goner after guiding the Arizona football program to a 1-5 start, all but ending the season in the second week of October. It's going to take the near-impossible to salvage any kind of bowl game in the wake of one of the football team's worst starts in a decade.
Don't focus on the carnage at Arizona Stadium, at least what it was before last week's shocking beat down of UCLA.
Turn your weary eyes to McKale Center where Miller is prepping the defending Pac-10 champion Arizona basketball program, a March removed from an unexpected Elite Eight, for another NCAA tourney jaunt.
Exit Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in last year's NBA Draft, MoMo Jones, who transferred to Iona and Jamelle Horne, a departed senior.
Enter four high-profile freshmen, including point guard Josiah Turner, the projected No. 11 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, according to DraftExpress.com.
Come inside to take a quick peek at Turner and all of the freshmen phenoms in pre-Arizona action. The season starts in just about two weeks against Valpo for the No. 15-ranked Wildcats:
A rugged rebounder and defender, Sean Miller compared Sidiki Johnson to a taller, bulkier Kevin Parrom, high praise for the newcomer.
According to Miller (via Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star):
"He is 6'8" and 247 pounds, and if you are a fan of Kevin Parrom, you're going to like Sidiki. He's a bigger Kevin. He likes to knock you down. A lot. He's going to foul out of a few games, and look at me and say, 'Coach, why are they calling fouls?' He's a physical player and you're going to love him."
And check out the jumper on this 6'8" wide-bodied power forward out of Bronx, New York.
As evidenced in the video above from PointGuardU, on the offensive end Johnson mixes in a smooth shot from the perimeter with a grinding mentality on the block.
That's a combination Arizona is lacking from inside with Williams departed to the Timberwolves.
And while the video doesn't give any real glimpse into his leaping ability, this video proves that the man is plenty capable above the rim, slightly surprising given his mass.
Johnson cannot be expected to match Williams' absurd sophomore season, but as the relative sleeper of this class, he is a gem of a post presence snatched up by Book Richardson.
Don't believe what you just saw? Need some more video evidence?
Check out this.
And some of this.
And how about some of this.
Touched with unusually-dynamic leaping ability for a player who stands 6'3", Johnson will bring that flair for emphatic, knees-to-teeth jams.
Here's Miller's take on Johnson:
"Nick is as explosive of a guard as I've seen. He can really jump off the floor but he's way more than an athlete. I think he's got great quickness, can be a defender that will rival about any in the country once he continues to learn the college game."
There are shades of Shannon Brown when watching this video, as Johnson seems to hover at times due to the distance between his feet and the hardwood.
But the highly-rated combo guard is so much more than just absurd ups.
The Findlay Prep product by way of the Phoenix area (love him even more for spurning hometown ASU) can fire from deep in a major way, and his overflow of athletic ability should translate into making him a proficient on both ends.
Sean Miller doesn't believe in soft. As far as he's concerned, finesse is a shampoo made for early-round NCAA-tourney departees.
Angelo Chol, at just 17 years old, is just the brand of player needed down low to execute the program's nothing-easy-ever defensive philosophy.
Chol is the all-time leading shot blocker in the state of California's high school basketball history, proof positive of his presence near the rim.
Just from checking out the video, the length of his arms stands out, making his wingspan a constant nightmare for would-be scorers.
While somewhat raw on low-post offensive moves, though it's impossible to tell from these highlight reels, Chol's work ethic in refining those facets is already apparent to his new crew, including star (junior) forward Solomon Hill, a contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year accolades.
According to this piece from the Arizona Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe, Hill was taken by Chol's conditioning:
"Yeah, I've seen Angelo do some things that it's like ‘wow,' especially defensively," Hill said. "For him to run the floor like he does and his stamina level is crazy. I haven't seen the guy sweat on a treadmill. He doesn't even sweat."
But he owns a deft touch from long distance (Miller notes that he hit 51 threes as a senior in high school.) And he's a lefty.
Arizona is unafraid of matching body blows, and Chol will be one of the focal points of Arizona's schemes to stop the opposition.
Josiah is the messiah, as Turner is coming to Tucson to restore Arizona's reputation as the nation's leading force in churning out elite point guards.
The program's highest-profile recruit since Jerryd Bayless, who is now the point guard for the Toronto Raptors, Turner's first-round-pick-worthy abilities made the sting of losing MoMo Jones, last year's starting PG, via transfer to Iona bearable.
In fact, Turner's presence was possibly one of Jones' determining factors in leaving the program (publicly Jones stated that his reason for leaving was to be close to his grandmother, before flirting with several programs that there were nowhere near New York City).
The freshman, along with silky sophomore Jordin Mayes, were going to eat heavily into Jones' minutes, as talents like those are not to be wasted on the bench.
Here's Miller on his new point guard:
"His size really stands out for such a young player (6'3", 190). And he's a fun guy to play with on offense because he passes the ball. The more open court situations he's in, the more comfortable he is," said Miller about Turner."
Enjoy him while he's here, because his approaching future involves early entry into the NBA.