Miller excited about what McConnell brings

Sean Miller had plenty of positive things to say about T.J. McConnell on Wednesday. Read on to see what he values as much as his offense, how he leads Arizona, and more.

You can make the argument that for the first time in the Sean Miller era at Arizona, the Wildcats will have a true point guard to work with. That is not an insult to Mark Lyons or even Josiah Turner, but Miller said numerous times during Wednesday's press conference that T.J. McConnell is a true point guard.

The Duquesne transfer sat out last year, but was still able to participate in practices and will now be expected to come in and play a significant amount of time.

That ability to practice and get acclimated with his teammates last season is something that Miller believes will benefit McConnell and Arizona right away.

"He practiced with us every day last year, so it's great to have him already have been a part of what we do," Miller said. "We know what he can do. I think equally important is that he has great familiarity with not only his teammates, but also our system."

Although McConnell may be getting closer to playing his first game in an Arizona uniform, he still enters the season with plenty of experience.

"He's not a new player," Miller said. "He's older by college basketball standards. If you think about it, he has already played a significant role on two teams in college before he got here. He brings the element of experience."

Most of McConnell's attention is coming from his ability on the offensive side of the ball, but he may have just as much value defensively.

"His style of play is one where I believe he impacts the game on defense and offense," Miller said. "As much as everybody focuses on offense, to me one of the things that we've had a problem in recent years that I believe T.J. can solve is his ability to defend.

"Not only the man that he is guarding, but just playing team defense and point guards, they pressure the other teams both ways. We know this because he practiced with us every day; that he is tenacious on defense, he has a gift in terms of being able to steal the ball.

"I am as excited about what he can bring to the table on defense as I am on offense and I believe I speak for all of us, whether it is our total coaching staff or our team."

In addition, Miller says that McConnell has already started to lead the Wildcats and will likely keep that role throughout the season.

"I think the best players on your team in college lead," he said. "They aren't always the seniors, they aren't always the older players. Inevitably players respect the ones that show up when it counts the most.

"Although T.J. has not performed in a game, I think where his leadership is respected is how he approaches things on a daily basis. He works very hard, he competes, he performs, he plays well and that in itself earns the respect of his teammates. He has a lot of those characteristics that I think make his teammates follow him."


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