Freshman Rawle Alkins is a man amongst boys, and plays like it too
Arizona guard Rawle Alkins snags the ball from head coach Sean Miller's hands for a dunk during the slam dunk completion before the red and blue scrimmage at McKale Center on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.
There will be a lot of freshman star power on the hardwood for the Pac-12 Conference throughout the 2016-2017 season.
While UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Washington’s Markelle Fultz garner the most newcomer hype, Arizona’s Rawle Alkins is flying under the radar. While freshman teammate Lauri Markkanen has garnered all the attention, Alkins is a baller in his own right and will help lead Arizona.
With sophomore Ray Smith retiring due to an ACL injury and the uncertainty of Allonzo Trier's situation, Alkins has a big chance to step up right away.
Heading into the season, Alkins figured to have a sixth man role but ended up starting in the Wildcats' first exhibition against the College of Idaho. His ability to play both shooting guard and small forward will allow head coach Sean Miller some flexibility with the lineup.
While he provides versatility to the Wildcats, Alkins also brings a contagious positive attitude on and off the court.
“He is a great kid with an amazing personality and I am excited he is here,” Miller said.
Alkins even convinced his coach to be a dunk prop in the Red-Blue Game dunk contest. After asking Miller about it multiple times, the head coach agreed on one condition.
“I said I will do it on one condition: If you let me coach you really hard on defense, and [Alkins] said deal,” Miller said.
While the addition of Alkins is a win for Arizona, it was a Wildcats loss that helped get him to Tucson.
His first visit was last season’s heartbreaking defeat by Oregon when the Ducks snapped Arizona’s 49-game home winning streak. Miller met with Alkins after the loss and told him he hoped this game did not affect his college decision.
“They thought it was over with me but ... that helped me,” Alkins said. “Because it is like the world ends when they lose and I like that."
While Alkins frequently gets compared to fellow New Yorker Lance Stephenson, he claims a former ASU guard as his favorite player.
“I like James Harden a lot. I have been watching him a lot lately and he is a beast to me,” Alkins said. “A lot of people make fun of his defense but when he first came into the league, his role was just to be a defender.”
Just like Harden, Alkins checks in at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and is a real force when driving to the hoop.
“You can see he is really strong driving to the basket and he is under control,” Miller said. “A lot of guys who are strong drivers at times are reckless when they get here, but he is not."
Alkins may not be the flashiest freshman in the conference, but the wing has the potential to make the All Pac-12 Freshman team and provide the Wildcats with a lot more than expected.
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