That could not have been more evident than it was against Duke, when McConnell went for 10 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and only two turnovers.
After that win, Coach K was quick to compliment McConnell, although he also gave credit to those around him.
"He's a veteran," he said. "They are a veteran team, except for Gordon, and that's why they are ahead and besides that, they are extremely well coached. He makes good decisions and he has good people to make decisions with, but he played well."
Sean Miller believes that big games like the final of the NIT Season Tip-Off are the reason why McConnell came to Arizona and his abilities paid off.
"T.J. McConnell, he came to Arizona for all the right reasons, to play in big games like this and to have a chance to play with some great players around him and I'm happy for him, too," Miller said.
"He's always in the right place. The only thing he tries to do is run his team and get assists, and in today's day and age, that's rare."
However, it's not just McConnell's defense that has affected Arizona. His counterpart in the backcourt, Nick Johnson, has learned from what the point guard brings on defense as well.
"Just huge," Johnson said of McConnell's impact. "On defense, he has like a little bulldog mentality, gets up in defense and he's really aggressive. So I mean, it's been big for our team. His leadership is huge for us."
If you ask McConnell, the success that he has had in the early part of the season may not be happening had he not sat out last season.
"It was tough to sit out last year, but it definitely paid off for me," he said. "Just working on every aspect of my game, getting bigger in the weight room and just getting familiar with the offense and building chemistry with the guys. The year off was great and it only helped me."