One of the biggest concerns over the past few years for Arizona basketball has been the point guard position. Since the arrival of Sean Miller – a point guard himself in college – many expected UA to hand-pick true point guards annually. Being known in the past as one of the strongest programs for developing point guards, the Wildcats looked to get back to their roots by hiring a coach that knows the intricacies of the position inside and out
But things haven't gone quite the way most Arizona fans had originally thought. They landed Lamont Jones – which excited many fans as UA was taking a recruit away from rival USC – but he lasted only two seasons before deciding to transfer.
Jordin Mayes was expected to be a contributor, but not really as a true point guard. He is a sharp shooter who can play the position in spots, but should never be relied on as a full time point guard at this point in his basketball career.
The Josiah Turner saga will ultimately go down as a complete failure. Turner was one of, if not the most heralded, point guard in his class. Most fans anointed him an automatic starter based on nothing more than hearsay on message boards and talk from scouts and national writers, but once you look at his game when he arrived at Arizona, you knew he needed a lot of work to succeed.
In theory, Turner is a true point guard. He is a pass-first player who pushes the tempo and prefers to set his teammates up rather than shoulder the scoring load. Turner's problem was that he was playing his own game half the time and it hardly synced well with the game-plan.
Turner was sent packing after his off-the-court problems caught up to him and left the Cats scrambling for someone to fill his roll. The only players left on the roster that could play the position were Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes – both of which are more shooting guards than points – and newcomer Gabe York is more of a combo guard that likes having the ball in his hands with the intention to score.
Then Arizona saw an opportunity with Xavier guard Mark Lyons. It was made known publicly that Lyons would not return to Xavier after graduating even though he had one year of eligibility left. Instead, he chose to transfer and UA was the school that stood out most.
Lyons ultimately committed to the Wildcats to fill the point guard void, but even he is more of a combo player in the backcourt.
But does that really matter in today's world of basketball? How many true point guards even exist anymore? The Steve Nashs, Deron Williams and Chris Pauls of the world are still out there, but in college basketball, the big-name point guards have been players like Kemba Walker, John Wall and Derrick Rose. Their success shows that you don't need a "true" point guard, just one who is efficient and can lead the team.
That's what Lyons can do for Arizona. He is a scorer, but that's exactly what UA needs on its current roster. Solomon Hill will shoulder some of the scoring load, but he's better suited to be the player that does a little bit of everything. Kevin Parrom could be the number one option, but until he hits the floor and shows he's fully recovered and ready to play, Parrom is a question mark.
Guard Nick Johnson has the capability of being a number one scorer given his athleticism and shooting ability, but his inconsistency as a freshman prevents that from being a lock.
Lyons is a proven player for a reputable program and he arrives at Arizona to give the team a boost in several areas. He isn't the true point guard that Wildcats' fans have been longing for since the 90's, but he provides exactly what this team needs in the upcoming campaign.
The days of the true point guard may not be over, but the position has evolved quite a bit over the past two-to-three decades. Now, players like Lyons are just as valuable as any other point guard that could be running the Wildcats. How he fits in with the team and system – which borders on perfectly – goes a lot further than whether or not he can fill a specific pre-determined role.
Lyons may not be a John Stockton or Steve Nash-type, but he is exactly what UA needs at exactly the right time.
Will Arizona miss a true point guard?
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