Arizona basketball gave fans plenty to be thankful for in the 2010-11 season, but there are numerous things for which the Wildcat faithful will be counting their blessings for years to come.
Kevin Anderson: Without the botched hiring attempt of Sean Miller, who knows where Arizona basketball might be today. It’d likely be without Miller, who probably would’ve accepted the vacancy at Maryland, and also without all of the fortunes he’s amassed since turning down the job.
We’ll never know the exact details of what happened in Las Vegas that ultimately turned Miller off from the Maryland job, but Arizona fans should say their thanks every day for the ineptitude of Anderson.
Sean Miller: I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Arizona fan that isn’t satisfied with the job Miller has done in two plus seasons at head coach. An Elite Eight appearance, a Pac-10 championship, and the nation’s number one recruiting class in 2012 are all things that were certainly unexpected, but are all things each UA fan is grateful for.
There’s no doubt that Arizona has the perfect coach in Miller, who has UA on track to exceed the accomplishments of the Lute Olson days. On the court, no one works harder to prepare his teams for the college and professional level, as well as put them in a position to compete together and win basketball games.
Off the court, Miller has developed a reputation as a trustworthy man with whom parents are comfortable leaving their sons. He’s a tireless recruiter that is succeeding at a rate of an elite coach, something he’ll surely be in short time. UA fans should be thankful for the endless rewards that having Sean Miller as their head coach have brought and will continue to bring.
Kevin Parrom: You’d be hard pressed to find a human being that has been through more tragedy than Parrom, but you’d also have a tough time finding a college kid that would be able to perservere through it all the way that he has.
Despite all of the obstacles in his way, Parrom has never lost sight of his goals, dreams, and passion for being a Wildcat. It would’ve been perfectly understandable for someone in his position to fold, to give up, and to walk away from basketball and focus on putting his life back together; and certainly no one would fault him for doing that.
But from the tradgedy, Parrom has emerged determined to maintain the course and to return a stronger person, both physically and emotionally, after all of his personally tragedies. Considering what he’s been through, UA fans should be grateful he is alive, much less playing basketball. But since he is and he’s determined to see his hoops dreams through, UA fans should be proud to have such a resolute young man as a part of their program.
Grant Jerrett: Committed before Arizona made its Elite Eight run and re-emerged as an elite program, Jerrett laid the groundwork for Miller’s recruiting spoils with his commitment nearly one year ago. With a college weight program, Jerrett has an opportunity to take his game to a whole different level, and Arizona fans will be thrilled to have him in the program.
Brandon Ashley: The highest ranked player of the four terrific 2012 recruits, Ashley has a chance to come in immediately and make an impact on the program from day one. If he successfully adapts to the college game, UA fans will be grateful he chose to be a Wildcat, as he’ll blossom into a great young forward and a centerpiece of next year’s team.
Gabe York: While Arizona fans will no doubt come to love York’s ability to score the basketball, that shouldn’t be what UA fans are most anxious for about from their lone guard commitment in the class of 2012.
In Sean Miller’s system, a certain level of toughness and killer instinct is necessary on both ends of the floor, and York has the swagger and confidence to thrive under his future head coach. A tenacious player on offense, York has an opportunity to be a major contributor for Miller if he can commit to playing defense with the same drive and intensity.
If York has success at Arizona, it’ll be due to the fact that he adapted the principles that define his offensive game to the opposite end of the floor as well. If he can do that, UA fans will be thankful he decided to go with Arizona despite its late start in his recruitment.
Kaleb Tarczewski: It’s clear watching this year’s team that Arizona is in need of a true center to anchor the paint on both ends of the floor. That’s exactly what they’re getting in Tarczewski; a big man that is only going to continue to work hard and improve his game. Under Sean Miller’s guidance, Tarczewski has a chance to develop into one of the best big men in the country sooner than later.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tarczewski’s verbal gave the Wildcats another victory over Kansas on the recruiting trail. UA fans everywhere appreciate the bragging rights, as well as Tarczewski’s commitment to bettering himself and the program at Arizona.
Michael Peck: In watching Nick Johnson this season, it’s clear that his basketball education at Findlay Prep has paid enormous dividends in his freshmen year. The credit goes to coach Peck, who has done a great job of preparing his players for the college level and putting them in position to succeed from the start of their careers.
If Peck can replicate his efforts with Johnson with Brandon Ashley this season at Findlay, Arizona fans will be doubly appreciative of his attention to detail and commitment to getting the most from his players.
Nick Johnson: I think we can all agree that without Johnson, the 2011-12 team would not be winners of five of its first six. A great athlete, tough defender, and developing shooter, Johnson has lived up to expectations so far in his young career and has cemented himself as a contributor all year long.
UA fans should be grateful for all of the work Johnson has put into his game the past two and a half seasons at both Findlay Prep and Arizona. Remember, it was Johnson who was the first of the freshmen to arrive in Tucson, and he’s been hard at work ever since.
As he continues to work and improve, there’s no doubt Johnson will become a clear cut fan favorite, although he’s definitely on his way to being one in his freshman year. He’ll be a large presence in UA’s drive for success in years to come, and Arizona fans should be grateful to have a player and person the caliber of Johnson in the program.
Seattle Pacific: For a team with such high expectations, a loss to SPU in the exhibition opener may be exactly what the 2011-12 squad needed. The game highlighted the team’s numerous weaknesses, but it did give the Wildcats plenty of time to fix these problems and improve itself as a team before the season even started.
This team will undoubtedly improve at the season goes on, and the loss to Seattle Pacific will likely be remembered as the game that kick started that progression.