Move over 'Point Guard U', wings taking over

Arizona's reputation as ‘Point Guard U' is well deserved, but maybe Lute Olson's program should be deemed "Wing U". As good as Arizona has been at producing NBA point guards, it has been even better at producing small forwards and big wings.

Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire and Jason Terry are among the great point guards Arizona has sent to the NBA. Some, like Bibby, were elite level recruits who lived up to the hype. Others, like Kerr, maximized their abilities under the tutelage of Olson and his staff.

As good as the spot has been, the wings have been bigger. Sean Elliott, Chris Mills, Richard Jefferson, the list goes on and on. Arizona small forwards have been impact players in the NBA for almost two decades.

Of late, the ‘Point Guard U' reputation has taken a light hit. Jason Gardner was the first starting point guard since Matt Muehlebach not to play in the NBA. Muehlebach suffered from a severe illness after graduation that hurt his NBA chances, while Gardner had the stigma of being under six-foot and the memories of a bad draft camp his sophomore year still fresh in NBA GM's memories.

This year Mustafa Shakur is testing the draft waters but looks to go undrafted or headed back to Arizona. Add to that the recent decommitment of elite guard recruit Jerryd Bayless and you have the first bit of uncertainty at the PG position since Olson first set foot on campus.

Granted, there is a lot of good things happening at PG. Jason Terry has led the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals. Shakur has gotten favorable reviews in terms of size and athleticism and another year at Arizona could not only make him an NBA player but he could work his way into the first round of the 2007 draft. GM's like Jerry West have had some intriguing things to say about the Philadelphia native.

Currently on campus you have 6-6 J.P. Prince, a player many close to the program have described as having the rawest ability of any player on the team last season. If his work ethic can match his athleticism you may see another Wildcat guard being selected high in the draft.

That being said, the wing tradition at Arizona is even better. Since 1988 three starting Wildcat point guards have failed to play in the NBA. Muehlebach and Gardner are joined by Kenny Lofton in this category. Granted, Lofton is a millionaire many times over playing Major League Baseball, but he never played NBA basketball.

Over that same stretch, only one regular starting wing has failed to play in the NBA. Corey Williams never got a chance to show his stuff in the NBA but has played overseas, primarily in Belgium, for over a decade.

Although his stock may not be at its highest right now it seems almost certain that Hassan Adams will be drafted. Right now he looks to be an early second rounder, but with his freak athleticism many feel he has a chance to stick for some time.

On campus the Wildcats have at least two NBA caliber wings and more than likely more than that. Marcus Williams would have been drafted if he put his name in the draft. Now he is playing for draft position. If the NBA had not instituted the age limit Chase Budinger would have likely been a Lottery pick if he wanted to test the waters.

Jawann McClellan has NBA ability if he can get his career righted after academic and injury woes and Fendi Onobun is an intriguing prospect with his mix of strength and athleticism.

In terms of smaller starting guard the Wildcats have sent nine players to the NBA. These players are Steve Kerr, Matt Othick, Khalid Reeves, Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas and Salim Stoudamire to the NBA.

In terms of big wings the Cats have seen eight players see time in the league. Sean Elliott, Jud Buechler, Chris Mills, Michael Dickerson, Miles Simon, Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton, Andre Iguodala have all logged time in the NBA and Adams is poised to be the ninth.

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