A look ahead: Center

Arizona is set at center for next season. Read on to see why that is, where the minutes will go, and more.

Basketball season may have ended only a few months ago, but it is never too early to look ahead. In this series of articles, we will be breaking down every position and taking a look at what the future holds.

There really is not much of a question at center for Arizona, as Kaleb Tarczewski is a lock to start. Last season, Tarczewski improved his minute average by six, points by three, and shot better overall. He probably could have left for the NBA, but made the smart decision by coming back in order to make another run and maximize his draft status.

Tarczewski has seen his fair share of criticism from Arizona fans for a variety of reasons ranging from his struggle with handling the ball to struggling with consistency.

You can argue as to whether or not you believe that criticism is warranted, but Sean Miller did not seem to mind Tarczewski's play, as he averaged 28 minutes per outing. The interesting aspect of Tarczewski's season is that he still left a ton of room for improvement, which was indicated by that lack of consistency.

We would be surprised if Tarczewski does not make another jump, especially when you take into account his mentality at the end of the season.

As a refresher, Tarczewski told the media "I think the reason why we are coming back is that when we signed on to this program, our goal was to make it to a Final Four, to be able to play for a national championship, and next year that's our goal.

"We have some unfinished business here and we are all grateful to say we have another year to stick around and hopefully get it done."

The belief is that those are not just words and Tarczewski meant it when he discussed the reasons why he came back.

The first option to backup Tarczewski will likely be Brandon Ashley. Again, everything we have heard indicates that he is on track to be healthy for next season and with his size and ability in addition to the other guys surrounding him, it makes sense that Ashley will play some five.

Ashley has played some center before and has been effective, so there is no reason to think he can't do the same this season. It's not like Ashley will be playing extensive minutes there and putting him at the five will allow Stanley Johnson to play the three and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson the four.

Matt Korcheck may be able to give a few minutes per game, if that, but the real wildcard at center is Dusan Ristic.

Not many people have seen Ristic, but Scout.com's Josh Gershon has seen tape on him and writes, "Ristic brings a typical European post game to Arizona. He's a long center with good size and terrific hands. He's very skilled and can really pass it for a player at his position.

"How quickly Ristic gets on the court and contributes will depend on the development of his strength and toughness. Should he make sufficient progress in both areas, he has the ability to help Arizona early in his career."

There are a lot of questions surrounding Ristic, but if he can answer those in a positive way, Arizona is going to be even better than people think.

Even if Ristic is not able to put things together right away, the Wildcats should be just fine at center with Tarczewski getting the bulk of the minutes and others like Ashley contributing as well.


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