Arizona’s point guard play this past season fell under a ton of criticism and for the most part, it was well deserved.
Often times the key to a successful college basketball team starts at point guard and while there were certainly flashes, there wasn’t anything close to the type of consistency that Arizona wanted or needed.
Kadeem Allen started at point for the majority of the season and it was often evident that he was a shooting guard playing point guard.
That’s not to take anything away from Allen because those situations aren’t a player’s fault, but teams that pressured Arizona generally did well.
You would be hard-pressed to find an Arizona player that performed well against Wichita State, but Gregg Marshall did a fantastic job of pressuring Allen into seven turnovers and taking advantage of his shortcomings.
Allen did well against the teams that did not pressure him much and struggled with the more athletic squads.
In two games against Oregon, Allen turned the ball over a combined eight times. He had four turnovers against UNLV and four more against Washington. Still, the overall number of turnovers he had was not terrible and he deserves credit for that.
The bigger issue than the turnovers is the ability to run the offense. As well as Arizona scored, it likely would have been better if it had a point guard that could consistently run the offense and set things up for others.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright was better than Allen in that regard, but again, not nearly consistent enough and not good on defense as well.
When Allen struggled against athletic teams, Jackson-Cartwright actually excelled. He did well when Arizona got into transition and finished only five assists behind Allen for the team lead despite playing 126 less minutes.
Jackson-Cartwright was the best three-point shooter in Pac-12 play and hit some big shots for Arizona and the real knock on him is probably defensively.
It’s not just the size issue and that is never going to go away, but rather the size issue. When he played against smaller point guard, Jackson-Cartwright could get in the lane and create for others. When he plays against the bigger point guards, his struggles were apparent from tip.
Defensively, you could say the same thing. The first USC game was a good example, as the Trojans’ backcourt went right at him. The first Cal game would be another when you look at the fact that he was outplayed by Sam Singer.
So where does this leave Arizona?
Well, the guess here is that Kadeem Allen will be able to play off the ball more next season because of Kobi Simmons.
Make no mistake about it, Simmons is coming in with a full and fair opportunity to become the starting point guard next season.
Simmons will give Arizona court vision and athleticism that it simply did not have this season. There are definitely questions with not only his experience, but his shooting ability and how he will fit in with everyone.
However, Miller has excelled with similar players and tends to do well at being able to get such players to play for him.
In addition, we really don’t know how Jackson-Cartwright will mature. In our opinion, it is safe to say he will get better.
He is going to gain some strength and while he won’t grow, that added strength is only going to be a help.
People are down on Jackson-Cartwright and we get that, but if he is a guy playing 15-20 minutes a night off the bench, Arizona could do a lot worse.
If Simmons gets acclimated, Arizona’s offense will run much better and opposing size won’t be a concern. Simmons needs to get stronger, but Arizona’s weight program has shown plenty of success in that area.
Should Simmons be as good as advertised, point guard shouldn’t be the weakness it what at many points this season.