Arizona basketball notes: Jerrett, Chol leave Wildcats, ex-Kansas big man enters
After Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross nailed a game-winning three to end the season for the Arizona men’s basketball team, the Wildcats were presumably headed toward a quiet offseason with only the decision of forward Aaron Gordon lingering.
The UA not only got the commitment from Gordon, but several other personnel moves have shaken up the Wildcats’ roster.
“Spring used to be a quiet time in college basketball … the month of April can take on a lot of different faces (now),” head coach Sean Miller said in Friday’s press conference.
Here is a quick breakdown of the roster changes since the Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State.
Forward Grant Jerrett plays defense against Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament on March 14, 2013 in Las Vegas.
The departure of Jerrett, Chol
When Gordon, ESPN’s No. 4 recruit in the 2013 class, declared his college choice of Arizona, the Wildcats immediately became title contenders driven by one of the deepest frontcourts in the country.
The depth quickly thinned as freshman Grant Jerrett decided to leave for the NBA Draft and sophomore Angelo Chol announced his transfer to San Diego State.
For most, Jerrett’s decision to leave after averaging 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game coming off the bench was a shock. The same can be said for his head coach.
“Initially I was surprised,” Miller said about Jerrett’s decision to leave early. “But, that’s all part of it when you recruit a very talented, young player. Each of those guys has their own goals and information that is out there is sometimes more or less relevant to them.
“I think in Grant’s perspective he felt he was ready and he was willing to make that climb to become an NBA player. I have no doubt he has the talent to do it.”
Jerrett entered college as the No. 9 overall prospect, according to ESPN. The young power forward underperformed, being reduced to a role player after losing his starting spot. Still, Miller said the freshman’s mind was already made up when he approached his coach about the decision to leave early.
Miller added that Jerrett has a great family and incredible support system that supported Grant’s decision. Miller’s focus instead shifted to helping Jerrett reach the next level.
Chol’s decision to transfer didn’t have the same sort of surprise, or publicity.
The raw 6-foot-8 center was the No. 61 overall recruit when he came to Arizona from his hometown of San Diego. But, the Sudan native played just 8.5 minutes per game last season and only 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
“Angelo was in a situation in his first two years here where he didn’t play a whole lot,” Miller said. “I think when he looked toward the future, regardless of how hard he worked, he still saw himself in a crowd.
“What he was looking forward to is going to a program maybe where he has the opportunity to start and play the whole game. From my perspective that’s what he has at (San Diego State).”
The arrival of Zach Peters
But, Arizona didn’t see just the short stick in the college transfer market. After the loss of Jerrett and Chol, the Wildcats added Kansas transfer Zach Peters to the mix.
“Timing sometimes is everything and in this case it really was,” Miller said. “It worked out.”
Miller added that he didn’t even know of Peters until a few months ago. The loss of two forwards created an area of need, though, and Peters was someone to fill that role.
The 6-foot-9 Peters was a three-star recruit and the 27th-ranked power forward in the 2012 recruiting class, according to ESPN.com. Yet, his time at Kansas was anything but special.
Peters left Kansas in late November to try and recover from injuries, including two concussions and a rotator cuff injury during his time with the Jayhawks. Peters has had four concussions starting with his senior season in high school, according to the Associated Press. He never played a game at Kansas.
“I think any young freshman who deals with that many injuries all in a short period of time; you can see why he moved on to get healthy. That was his reason,” Miller said. “Now that he’s healthy, he regained in his mind that thirst to be a college basketball player and pursue his dreams and it just so happened that the timing of that coincided with us.
“I don’t think we could have added a more quality player for what we needed.”
By the time the 2013-14 season starts, it will have almost been a year since his Peter’s last concussion which Miller said is a good sign. Still, the coach added that Arizona has done its due diligence to research and medically clear Peters.
Because of the medical hardships, there is a chance Peters could play this season but the NCAA still has to review his case. If he does receive special clearance, Peters could fill a role very similar to the departing Jerrett.
“He’s a very skilled player, he can shoot the ball from the perimeter,” Miller said. “One of the things that I was excited about is that he’s not small … He gives that skill level that maybe we had with Grant [Jerrett] moving forward.”
Parrom, Hill graduate
Not every roster move was a surprise, such as the loss of forwards Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom. Still, Miller said he was very happy to see two of his original recruits leave Arizona as college graduates.
“For them to leave here with their college degree, that’s something that I’m very, very proud of,” Miller said.
“To kind of go through that journey and watch them leave here with their diploma in hand is very rewarding for us as a program and I know their families feel the same way.”