The Arizona basketball squad has hefty expectations heading into the 2011-12 season despite the fact that both star forward Derrick Williams and starting point guard Lamont Jones will not be on the roste. Even with the loss of the team's two top scorers, UA has enough experienced talent returning to make Wildcats' fans ecstatic when it comes to the potential of next season.
With the return of several key juniors and one of the most talented recruiting classes in the nation ready to take the reigns, Arizona is in relatively good shape in comparison to the rest of the teams in the Pac-12.
One specific position that is generating this excitement among UA fans is the shooting guard spot. The position returns two seniors and one of the most heralded 2011 recruits. Not only that, but Arizona also has some versatility on the roster that will allow players from other positions to play the two-spot when necessary.
Returning starter Kyle Fogg is the most experienced player on the roster and returns for his senior season hoping to retain his spot in the first unit. Fogg will get his minutes one way or another and will be a valuable contributor on both ends of the floor.
Fogg is one of the best defenders on the team and it should be interesting to see just how much that portion of his game progressed in the offseason. He is one of the better on-ball defenders on the Arizona roster and defends the perimeter better than anyone else on the squad.
Fogg is also one of the team's best shooters from long distance. Fogg connected on 35.5 percent from beyond the arc – which was down a little over six percent from the previous year – and isn't shy to put up a three-pointer when left open. Fans are hoping they see Fogg revert back to his junior year when he shot over 41 percent from behind the three-point line.
Incoming freshman Nick Johnson looks to come in and challenge Fogg for not only playing time, but potentially a starting job. It will be a tough task for the freshman to come in and take the job from a senior, but Johnson's potential and athleticism certainly make him a candidate to do so.
Johnson relies more on his ability to get to the rack more than his jump-shot, which he is still developing. His quickness and leaping ability should allow him to beat most defenders at the Pac-12 level once he gets acclimated. If he reaches his ceiling early, Fogg could be in for more of a battle than he is at this point. No matter the case, expect Johnson to get plenty of minutes as a freshman.
Brendan Lavender also returns for his senior campaign, but is still going to find it difficult to find significant playing time until he becomes a little more consistent on both ends of the floor. Lavender is one of the best shooters on the team, but has still found the college game a bit difficult to adjust to.
He will be a senior, so he has the experience aspect going for him, but he will have to impress in a major way if he hopes to earn more playing time than either Fogg or Johnson.
Kevin Parrom may slide over to the two-guard slot when UA goes with a bigger lineup. Parrom became a much more reliable option to utilize at the shooting guard position when he displayed a very impressive outside shot in the 2010-11 season. Parrom shot just a shade below 42 percent from deep, which opened his game up wide. Normally an athletic player that likes to drive and finish, Parrom improved his jumper dramatically and played the two on occasion this past season.
Other players such as Jordin Mayes and Josiah Turner have games that fit more of a shooter's role at times. If both players see the court simultaneously, one of them will obviously play the two guard role. Both players have the ability to score with the ball in their hands, so either one can play the position if needed as well.
Arizona has plenty to work with at shooting guard. The Wildcats can go small, big, athletic or even utilize a shooting specialist at the two. UA needs someone to emerge as a reliable scorer from this position and, luckily for the Wildcats, there is more than enough to work with in order to find that player.
Evaluating the Roster: Shooting Guard
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