State of the Roster: Center

Kaleb Tarczewski should see plenty of time at center next season. Who else is in the mix? What does it mean for Arizona? Read on for those answers and more.

The center position has transitioned into somewhat of a strength for Arizona over the past 12 months.

After spending several years as an undersized squad, the Wildcats were able to reverse the trend when they landed a legit 7-footer in Kaleb Tarczewski.

It took a while for Tarczewski to gain comfort at the college level, but once he got rolling, he became a weapon for UA in the paint. Not only is he 7-foot, but at roughly 260 pounds, Tarczewski often overpowered opposing Pac-12 big men with his size and strength.

Sure, there were some rough patches for the young big man, but with a season under his belt and an off-season to grow both physically and mentally, the soon-to-be sophomore should develop into the top center in the conference and ideally one of the best big men in the country.

The presence of Tarczewski will make life easier for everyone around him and he has enough support in the front court to make his job less stressful.

With Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, Aaron Gordon, and Angelo Chol on the roster, Arizona will provide Tarczewski with a myriad of talent to complement him in the front court.

Tarczewski has the potential to average a double-double if he can stay out of foul trouble and earn more playing time. Given his work ethic, it wouldn't be surprising to see him come back even stronger, which could end up being a nightmare for the rest of the Pac-12.

The backup to Tarczewski will likely be a committee of players. No one else on the Wildcats' roster has the size of Tarczewski, but at the college level there are a few players that can give Tarczewski a rest.

Jerrett, while not necessarily a dominant post player on the offensive end of the floor, has the length to be a big-time shot blocker and can defend the paint well.

His offense is likely to come more from the outside, but his height and wingspan give him an opportunity to improve as an offensive player around the basket.

Ashley, Gordon and Chol are all too short to play an ample amount of minutes at center, but they could all be successful when Sean Miller wants to go with small lineup. Ashley's strength and athleticism could help him in the same way it helped Derrick Williams during his time as a Wildcat.

Ashley may not be as good of an overall player as Williams, but the way he plays with his back to the basket is reminiscent of how the former Arizona star used to approach playing in the paint.

Gordon is athletic enough to cause problems to an opposing defense in the paint simply because of his explosiveness. His ability to create from anywhere and virtually jump over defenders make him a tough player to contain even for a player 6-foot-10 or taller.

In Chol's case (if he does not red-shirt), he has the experience and has proven to be a valuable defensive asset in the paint. He still has much work to do on the offensive side of the ball, but he's a strong defensive presence and has experience at center.

The center position really comes down to how successful Tarczewski is. At times as a freshman, Tarczewski struggled with foul trouble and defense, but there is no reason an off-season of working with the Arizona staff can't seriously improve those shortcomings.

If Tarczewski can average close to 30 minutes per game, it likely means he is contributing positively, which only makes the Wildcats that much more dangerous in 2013-14.


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