State of the Roster: Shooting Guard

Arizona should have plenty of talent at shooting guard next year. Read on to see what that talent is, what their role will be, and more.

As we continue to look ahead to the 2013-14 season, the Arizona Wildcats have plenty to be optimistic about going forward.

Coming off a Sweet 16 run, UA will return the majority of its core, including a key component out of the back court.

The starting shooting guard job is already locked up by Nick Johnson. Heading into his junior campaign, Johnson is expected to emerge as one of the leaders not only on the court, but off it as well.

Coming off a season where he averaged 11.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game, Johnson looks to have an even bigger campaign in 2013-14 with the departures of Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, and Kevin Parrom.

Johnson's game really came around towards the end of the season and he started finding his shot from long range.

By the end of the season, the guard had brought his shooting percentage from beyond the arc to 39.3. Assuming the trend of improving from three-point range continues, Johnson could step into the much-needed role of outside shooter next season.

One responsibility Johnson will hopefully be free of is running the point guard position. With McConnell added to the mix and players like Mayes improving, the hope is that Johnson shouldn't be asked to run the offense very often.

He can do it in a spot roll, but ideally Arizona wants Johnson moving off the ball and he should get a chance to do that more as a junior.

Johnson brings an array of skills and he should be one of the Wildcats' most reliable scorers next season. He will certainly factor in just about every category, but his experience in the offense combined with his ability to score from anywhere should serve him well.

On the defensive end of the floor, Johnson could combine with McConnell to create a lot of havoc on opposing back courts. McConnell averaged nearly three steals per game at Duquesne, while Johnson collected nearly two per contest this past season.

The pair could force a lot of turnovers next season, which would give a Wildcats' team full of elite athletes the ability to run teams out of the gym.

Behind Johnson will be numerous players looking to do anything to contribute. Both Gabe York and Jordin Mayes will look to spell Johnson off the bench. Mayes' shooting ability could make him a perfect candidate to provide Johnson with a breather now and then. He's been in the system for three years and his knowledge of the offense should give him an advantage over the younger competition.

In addition, it will be interesting to see what kind of jump York has made and if he has improved enough to be a contributor. If York has grown as a player, there is a chance that Arizona will have some depth at the two that some may not be expecting as of now.

There are also the two newcomers from the 2013 class who are going to have an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation. Rondae Jefferson is a very long, athletic wing player who is known to be a strong defender and could be vital to the Arizona's three-point defense.

On the offensive end of the floor, Jefferson is not a great shooter quite yet, but his athleticism and length make him dangerous around the basket. He could be a serious weapon as a slasher in Miller's offense, which is part of the reason why he is a more natural small forward.

Elliott Pitts is the other incoming freshman that looks to crack the rotation. Pitts brings a solid outside shooting stroke and has a decent first step that allows him to sometimes take defenders off the dribble or at least keep them honest.

With a quality point guard running the ship, Pitts could be a valuable tool to utilize in Miller's offensive system.

There is plenty of talent fighting for minutes at the two. The starting position is locked down and there is quality depth coming off the bench. While there will likely be intense battles in practice for playing time, UA can rest easy knowing that the shooting guard position has plenty of talent to work with.


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