Quiet seniors Jackson-Cartwright, Ristic and Pinder will take the floor for the last time Saturday
Arizona men’s basketball fans have been through a lot this week, but now they must say goodbye to Arizona’s seniors this Saturday, March 3 during Arizona’s final home game of the season.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic and Keanu Pinder have played a big role in Arizona's success over the past few years. Here is a look at what they have brought to the team throughout their careers.
Arizona’s point guard, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, averaged 2.9 points and 1.8 assists in his first season at point guard U. Now, four years later, he is averaging 7.6 points and 4.7 assists, has a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.
Jackson-Cartwright came to Arizona and was presented with the tall task of replacing T.J. McConnell. He took the challenge head on and has emerged as the quiet leader for the Wildcats. This year especially, he has played the best defense of his career and confidently handled multiple difficult situations the team has faced.
Faced with adversity, such as outside voices saying he was the weakest link on this year’s team, Jackson-Cartwright responded with maturity and talked about how his role is to make his teammates better and ignore the outside noise.
That same leadership could be seen after Arizona’s last loss against Oregon Saturday, which started a few hours after the team found out that Sean Miller would not be coaching. After the game, Jackson-Cartwright was the one who talked to the media. His voice was calm and steady as he talked about continuing to lead the team through adversity and focusing on basketball.
Jackson-Cartwright’s career high came in the 2016-17 season when Arizona blew out Washington State 78-59 in Pullman, Washington. Jackson-Cartwright finished the game with 20 points and four 3-pointers.
The big man from Serbia, Dusan Ristic, has averaged 11.8 points and seven rebounds so far this this season. The 7-foot center is having the year of his career playing alongside freshman and fellow 7-footer Deandre Ayton. Ristic has improved his post moves, his interior defense and even started regularly shooting, and making, 3-pointers.
Having Ayton helps open the floor up for Ristic and he has taken advantage. He has hit defenders with spin-moves this season and even taken the ball up the court on occasion. Ristic has also managed to turn his mid-range jump shot into something other teams must pay attention to. But what he has improved the most since he came to Arizona are his free throw shooting. Ristic averaged just over 50 percent from the line his freshman year. He now shoots almost 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Ristic’s career high came this year when Arizona just managed to scrape by Utah with a one-point victory at the McKale Center. Arizona trailed Utah in the second half, but Ristic shot three-for-three from 3-point range, and scored seven straight points in the final two minutes to regain the lead and ultimately win the game.
Keanu Pinder, the transfer from Hutchinson Community College, has seen less playing time this year than last year. He still averages the same 2.2 points per game, while only playing nine minutes on average — down from 12 last year. But Pinder’s role is defense, not offense, and the 6’9” senior has given Arizona some valuable minutes in that category.
Pinder’s career high came in an 85-63 win over Texas Southern in the 2016-17 season, where he scored seven points and hit a 3-pointer.
However, perhaps the most important game of his career came this season when Arizona beat Oregon 90-83 at the McKale Center on Jan. 13. Pinder had not played a single minute two days earlier against Oregon State, but when his name was called against Oregon he stepped up. He played 18 minutes, scored six points and added two blocks and a steal.
What stood out in that game was a momentum-changing dunk midway through the first half. Arizona had been up double-digits, but Oregon built momentum and rattled off a 7-0 run. Pinder caught a pass from Jackson-Cartwright in transition and soared over an Oregon defender for a highlight reel and one dunk that ended Oregon’s run, got the crowd back on its feet and shifted the momentum back in Arizona’s favor.
However, there is one more senior that hasn't been mentioned. Talbott Denny, the local product from Salpointe Catholic High School, will also play in his last home game.
Last year, Arizona only had to say goodbye to Kadeem Allen. This year presents a tougher challenge, saying goodbye to four players who have become fan-favorites during their time wearing the cardinal and blue.
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