State of the Roster: Point Guard

Arizona will have a true point guard next season for the first time in years. Read on to see what that means, who else will contribute at point, and more.

As the 2012-13 college basketball becomes more distant in the rearview mirror, the 2013-14 season gets closer little by little. Sure, it may be several months before Arizona takes the floor again, but it's never too early to discuss what the next campaign could bring.

There will be some attrition that the Wildcats must overcome, but there is more than enough talent present to offset the losses. One position UA must replace is at starting point guard. With the departure of Mark Lyons, Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell will get a shot to take over duties at the one.

The general consensus believes that McConnell is actually a better fit for Sean Miller's system, considering that Lyons liked to shoot the ball more than pass. The two are completely different players and while Arizona was able to make a run to the Sweet 16 with Lyons on the roster, it's McConnell's skill-set that has everyone excited.

In his two years with the Dukes, McConnell averaged just a shade under five assists per contest while shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. He averaged double figures in scoring – which proves he can put points on the board – but with a surplus of capable options around him, McConnell's biggest asset to the Wildcats will be his distribution.

Arizona has plenty of talent for McConnell to spread the ball around to. In the paint, he has a laundry-list of contributors to involve and he will pair in the starting backcourt with Nick Johnson, a player who could lead the Wildcats in scoring next season. With a plethora of scoring options and wide variety of talent surrounding him, McConnell will be able to play to his strengths.

McConnell is known to be a great passer, but has struggled with taking care of the ball in the past. In his sophomore campaign, he averaged 2.6 turnovers per contest and UA certainly hopes he shows improvement in that area in his first season as a Wildcat.

He also plays strong defense and can be a very disruptive player to an opposing offense. McConnell averaged 2.8 steals per game in each of his first two years with the Dukes and that trait will certainly come in handy in the Pac-12.

The only real concern with McConnell is his lack of experience against Pac-12 competition. Playing the Atlantic-10 does pose various challenges and the conference presents respectable competition, but it is not at the level of the Pac-12. The transition year was huge for McConnell and if all goes as planned, Arizona won't have to worry about getting the proper production from the point guard position.

Depth behind McConnell is a bit up in the air at this point. Many expect Jordin Mayes to be the primary backup and, as a senior, it would be difficult picturing him not contributing.

The last couple of seasons have been anything but smooth for Mayes, however, and the concerns about him going forward are legitimate. He started to find himself at the end of this past season and his outside shot began to fall with more frequency.

Mayes must continue playing that way in order to hold off any contestants for the backup point guard job. Arizona could use his sharp shooting from the outside off the bench and if Mayes happens to have a big year for UA, it will make Arizona that much deeper and tougher to defeat.

Gabe York could factor in here as well, but it's hard to gauge how much of an impact he could really make given how little he played as a freshman.

York certainly has the tools to contribute. He is very athletic for a player of his size and has a good shooting stroke from the outside. If York can bring it all together before the start of the season, he could push Mayes for minutes.

When Arizona wants to go big they could slide Nick Johnson over and have him run the point guard. The Wildcats have minutes to distribute to big men and also have to figure out if and how they are going to factor Rondae Jefferson and Elliot Pitts into the equation. Each player brings something that Arizona needs on the wings and giving them ample minutes could mean Johnson sees some time as a point guard.

Arizona would like for someone to step up off the bench and play a big role as a backup point guard. Obviously McConnell is the starter, but beyond him is still in question. There are players capable of giving McConnell a breather, but finding the one who can be counted on consistently is going to be one of the challenges the Wildcats face heading into next season.


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