A look at Arizona men's basketball's highly-touted freshman class
Arizona men's basketball is set for a terrific year this year, and the main reason is because of two freshmen: Josh Green and Nico Mannion. Arizona’s recruiting class for the class of 2023 ranked No. 6 in the nation, behind powerhouses Kentucky and Duke, as well as Oregon, Villanova and Memphis.
Green and Mannion were five-star recruits out of high school, and Mannion has already been selected to the preseason All-Conference First Team. Green has been selected to the preseason All-Conference Second Team.
Mannion, a point guard and shooting guard, attended Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, where he won two straight state championships. He will look to take over for Brandon Williams, who will be missing this season after undergoing knee surgery. Mannion should be a heavy contributor to this Arizona team this year, as he averaged 30.4 points a game as a senior. His ability to score from both beyond the arc as well inside is one of the best in the nation and his passing ability should also be on show this season as he averaged six assists a game his senior year at Pinnacle. Mannion has considerable hops for his 6'3” frame, so dunking is no problem for him as well.
Green, who attended the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is expected to be a big contributor as well for the Wildcats, as he has a tremendous ability to be able to shoot off the dribble but also drive to the hoop as well. One of the biggest draws to Green’s play is his athleticism to be able to guard multiple positions.
“Tremendous athlete, very physical player," Miller said on Green. "Has really long arms. I think his wingspan is right around 6-foot-11.”
Green is coming off recent shoulder surgery after he dislocated his shoulder last spring, but he’s been recovering well, as he’s already been cleared to play for the 2019-2020 season for the Wildcats.
Green and Mannion already have a good chemistry, as they both played in the McDonald’s All-American Game last March. Both had great high school success and when playing together at the All-American Game, they complimented each other well, as Mannion is better known for his passing and Green more known for his dunking, so fans should expect to see some high-flying alley-oops this season between the two.
Both Green and Mannion went to the Pac-12 media days earlier this month in San Francisco as well, becoming the first freshmen to attend it since Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo in 2007-2008.
Head Coach Sean Miller seemed confident in his freshmen, as he said, “They both are going to be counted on heavily and made decisions to come to our school at a pivotal time. I think it’s a great experience for them and really a sign of things to come because freshmen today aren’t really freshmen. A lot of times they’re counted on heavily, and really all of our freshmen will be counted on this year.”
The Wildcats are ranked No. 21 in the nation, mainly because of the duo of Green and Mannion. The Wildcats' season starts Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. against Northern Arizona University at McKale Center.
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