Freshmen already making an impact

It may only have been the Red and Blue game, but the impact of the freshmen is obvious. Read on to see what Sean Miller and Nick Johnson have to say about it, the defensive performance of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and more.

Last season, each Arizona freshman mentioned how nervous he was going into the Red and Blue game. While that may have been the case this year, each freshman contributed and you can make an argument that at least two of them were among the best players in the game.

"I believe Aaron and Rondae were two of the best players in the game, and Elliott (Pitts) did a good job as well," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "Elliott is very understated. He's missing some size and strength, which will come, but he is one of the highlights of our team.

"He really knows how to play, he's much better on defense than the average freshman, and he can shoot the basketball."

The most impressive player may have been Hollis-Jefferson, who Miller says has been somewhat of a surprise up until this point.

"Rondae played almost better than he's practiced," Miller said. "I've been pleasantly surprised with how well he listens and learns, not that I didn't think he would, but he comes to practice eager and determined. He works hard every day. I think one of the reasons he played well today was because of how hard he works in practice."

As good as he is defensively, Hollis-Jefferson can still improve on that side of the ball.

"He has a lot of talent on defense, but he still has to learn college defense," Miller said. "Sometimes he'll run into the screen or lose his man, but he's going to continue to improve. He has unbelievable length, size, and quickness. When you watch him out there, his talent level on defense is really high."

Junior guard Nick Johnson agrees with Miller and feels that Arizona will have a major upgrade on defense this season due in large part to the freshmen.

"Him, Aaron [Gordon], and Elliott [Pitts], they have length on their side, definitely can get up into the ball, and can put pressure, and that's our defensive concept," Johnson said. "They're just going to get better as time goes on."

Offensively, Aaron Gordon often pushed the pace off rebounds and displayed his versatility throughout the game.

"The word unique is at the forefront when you describe Aaron as a player," Miller said. "You saw how he can pass. With someone of his size and athleticism, it might be one of the best things he does.

"Sometimes he'll be in a lineup with two front court players like Brandon and Kaleb, other times it can be with three guards. We're always looking at putting him in a position to make our team better."


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