Surprise! Dennis Makes the Right Decision

Dennis Latimore is gone. This notion hit Wildcat faithful quite hard over the past couple of days, and understandably so. Why anyone would want to quit a team that is ranked No. 1 in the nation right before it marches down the warpath in quest of a national championship seems beyond comprehension. Ask any player who came close, but never won a championship ring and each will tell you it left a void. Personally, I'd just like to get a ticket to the Final Four, let alone play in it.

But we have to look beyond the potential rings and other jewels of team prominence to figure out the mystery. If you dig deep enough and think back to when you were a sophomore in college then the answer is possibly easier to grasp than originally thought.

Here is a guy who less than two years ago was staring at full-ride offers to play for three of the nation's elite programs: UCLA, Kansas and Arizona. The 6-8 forward was a star in his hometown of Halstead, Kansas, and was listed among the nation's top 30 recruits. He was expected to equal and surpass this same potential at the next level. Come on, anyone recruited by Roy Williams, Lute Olson and Steve Lavin had to be the real deal.

So instead of staying close to home and playing ball for Kansas, Latimore took the plunge and headed to Tucson. As a freshman he played in all 34 games, averaging over 10 minutes of court time in each contest. Latimore made an impact, and there's something to be said for that as a freshman in any great program.

As his sophomore year approached he was coming into his own on a team with incredible depth. But soon after the season began and it became apparent that talented freshmen Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala would greatly contribute; Latimore saw his playing time evaporate quicker than academic programs at the UA. He went from a key cog in this Wildcat lineup to being lost among that incredible depth. In his last game as a Wildcat, a 92-72 blowout win over Arizona State, he played only one minute.

One minute?

One minute is for someone who is just happy to be on the team. One minute is barely enough time to take off the warmup gear. The flavor in chewing gum lasts longer than one minute. And one minute was the last straw for Dennis Latimore.

So you might be asking yourself, 'Well, what's wrong with being a role player on a talented team like this?'

I say there's plenty wrong with it. This guy has a legitimate shot to become a successful collegiate basketball player. But he wasn't going to do it with this team. I don't care how much he improves, his role with Arizona would have always been as a backup. For some players that is an incredible accomplishment. But it isn't for someone who less than two years ago was considered one of the best basketball players America had to offer at the high school level.

Individuals like Dennis Latimore take pride in the work they do and want the best opportunity to succeed. He knows the amount of talent he possesses and wants to be able to prove he can succeed on this level and possibly on another.

This isn't unlike any other college student who wants to succeed in his or her chosen field. Everybody wants the best opportunity to prove what they can do, and in this case that field is basketball.

So take your shots at him for leaving this team and compare him to all of the other players who flopped after leaving the Wildcat basketball program. Dennis Latimore might prove you wrong.

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