With Derrick Williams departed to the NBA, not only do the Wildcats lose their best player on the floor, but they also will be without the leader of their squad. Williams did more than just stuff the stat sheet, he brought out emotion in his teammates and picked up their spirits with both his play and his demeanor.
For a team that has four very talented, but very young freshmen coming in, UA is going to need some current players to take the leadership role. For a team littered with upperclassmen next year, there are several options to look at.
There is senior Kyle Fogg. Sure he has been a bit inconsistent with his play at times, but Fogg has played more college basketball than anyone else on the roster and his on-court experience should go a long way in assisting the younger players.
Fogg can also lead by example on the defensive end of the floor, where he is one of the better on-ball defenders along the perimeter that the Wildcats have. He puts in a lot of effort into that end of the floor and it should rub off onto the newcomers once they see how hard he works.
Also look for Solomon Hill to take on more of a leadership role. He has the most playing time under his belt out of the non-seniors and has grown into one of the best all-around players on the roster. Like the majority of college basketball players, Hill has aspirations of playing at the next level and if his game grows on the court, he will have that opportunity.
Becoming a team leader only increases his chances and Hill probably understands that. Taking on a leadership role means shouldering the load of your teammates and it's a sign of maturity in a young basketball player. There were already signs of Hill doing this down the stretch of the 2010-11 season, as well as the post-season when Williams was either struggling or not on the floor.
Kevin Parrom is another player who could develop into someone his teammates look up to, especially if he continues to provide a spark off the bench the way he did for the majority of his sophomore year. Parrom will get his minutes whether it's in a starter's role or not, but he was the leader of the reserves last season and provided instant energy whenever he entered the game.
His play and experience could earn him a job in the starting five and if he does, he could really see his leadership opportunity to expand immensely. Parrom is generally quiet and lets his play do the talking for him. If his level of performance continues to elevate, Parrom won't need to open his mouth to lead; his teammates will naturally follow.
There aren't statistics that can measure the level of leadership. We can try to draw distinctions between leadership and numbers, but it's more about who is able to pick those around them up when they are sluggish or keep the team's momentum going as long as possible. If Arizona can find good core leadership from its upperclassmen, it should be in a good state mentally in 2011-12.
Who will lead Arizona?
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