On Tuesday, Oct. 11, members of the 2022-23 Arizona men’s basketball team spoke to the media for the first time since the start of practices this fall.
This Arizona Wildcats' backcourt for this season consists of many familiar faces from last season. In addition, a highly talented freshman and two senior transfers join the talented group and will play a pivotal role in the rotation come November.
Arizona will need to fill the void of NBA rookie Bennedict Mathurin, who led the team in scoring last year at 17.7 points per game. Mathurin was a significant part of the Wildcats' success story last season. Head coach Tommy Lloyd also had to say goodbye to Dalen Terry, likely something he was not expecting if you were to ask him last season. Terry, one of the country's best glue guys last season, showed his potential on the offensive end throughout the last eight games of last year, resulting in his departure.
As the first exhibition game is just under a month away, the Arizona Wildcat backcourt is listed below.
Kerr Kriisa | Jr. | 6-foot-3 | G
The Estonian native returns to Tucson for his junior season after playing overseas representing his country this past summer. Last season, Kerr Kriisa had somewhat of a roller coaster ride. The junior witnessed his first career triple-double at Utah but saw plenty of low moments, struggling to hit the bottom of the net from the 3-point land, many of those games being away from McKale Center.
He finished the 2021-22 season at a 33% clip from distance. Lately, coach Lloyd has emphasized Kriisa learning to work more inside the lane, trying to establish himself as a scorer closer to the rim rather than only relying on his outside jumper.
With more depth in this year's backcourt, hopefully Kriisa will feel less pressured, resulting in him taking that next step forward that Wildcat fans have been waiting for. The 6-foot-3 guard had a turnover rate of 2.2 per game.
Courtney Ramey | fifth | 6-foot-3 | G
After playing in Austin, Texas, for four seasons, Courtney Ramey threw his name in the transfer portal, looking to finish up his college career elsewhere. Ultimately, Ramey landed in Tucson, primarily because of Lloyd’s willingness to correct a few mechanical issues he presented. Ramey has played for some of the most talented minds in college basketball, both Shaka Smart and Chris Beard.
However, in his short time spent in Arizona, the fifth year senior found a unique connection with Lloyd.
“Every day he gives me a lot of confidence. Coach Lloyd has a great offensive mind. I think the way he coaches is suitable for my game, which landed me [here] at Arizona,” Ramey said.
Ramey brings experience and leadership to this younger Arizona group and will likely start alongside Kriisa this season.
Pelle Larsson | Jr. | 6-foot-5 | G
Throughout the fall, many members of the coaching staff praised Pelle Larsson because of the progression he has made since last spring. Toward the end of last season, Larsson was a critical piece in the rotation who had some of his best moments in Vegas, helping the Wildcats win the Pac-12 Tournament.
The 6-foot-5 wing proved to be the most reliable shooter on last year's team while also being an elite perimeter defender, ranking amongst the best in the Pac-12 Conference.
This summer, Larsson represented his hometown country, playing for the Sweden National team and having the opportunity to go against one of the greats in today's NBA, Luka Dončić. Playing against one of the top players in the world, Larsson acknowledged this further helped his development.
"It was a great experience. You get put in a position that you might be in the future, playing against high-level athletes and grown men," Larsson said.
The anticipation is that Larsson will take a big step forward throughout his junior season, being one of the more impactful players on this roster.
Cedric Henderson Jr. | fifth | 6-foot-6 | G-F
Initially born in Memphis, Tennessee, Cedric Henderson Jr. spent three years playing at Campbell University. The senior scored in double digits in all three seasons for the Camels, providing instant offense when on the floor throughout his time. Henderson decided to join the Wildcats this past June.
The senior is at his best in the open court, pushing the ball and getting to the rim. In his first few months in Tucson, he cherished the rich culture of Arizona basketball.
“The biggest thing about Arizona basketball is that there’s history and more of a background, so I have to be ready for every game,” Henderson said.
Henderson will likely be one of the first options off the bench this season, rotating at both guard positions alongside Kriisa and Ramey.
Adama Bal | SO. | 6-foot-7 | G
With year two just around the corner, sophomore Adama Bal's success will be a significant factor if Arizona wants to be in a similar spot they were in last march. Having reclassified, Bal joined the Wildcats a year early, being the youngest member in the program. However, in limited opportunities, Bal showed his potential.
The sophomore had two key 3-pointer shots he converted, sparking a late second-half run against UCLA, being a huge reason why the Wildcats were named tournament champions. After adding 15-20 pounds of muscle since last March, Bal will find himself in the rotation as the season tips off. He will likely be one of the first options off the bench for Lloyd. Bal spent the summer back in France, spending quality time with his trainer while playing for the U20 French national team. Learning from Mathurin and Terry, Bal praised his old teammates for their mentorship throughout his first season in Tucson.
"I'm pretty confident because I've seen what it takes to be good and a part of a winning team," Bal said. "Last year was a good experience. [Mathurin] and [Terry] showed me all the work I needed to put in to play at this level."
Kylan Boswell | Fr. | 6-foot-2 | G
Rounding out the guards, five-star freshman Kylan Boswell decided to join the Wildcats this summer, foregoing his senior year of high school and reclassifying into the graduating class of 2022. Boswell committed to Arizona last spring, which marked the highest-rated recruit in the Tommy Lloyd era.
Unfortunately, the freshman is currently dealing with an injured right foot from last spring. Nevertheless, Boswell has been working endlessly with the training staff and hopes to be back on the floor within the next four to six weeks. When the talented guard returns from injury, he will likely work behind Kriisa but certainly benefit the program when on the floor.
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