Center Kaleb Tarczewski may not have much choice but to make that jump, as he is the only proven center on the roster. Zach Peters could come in and be able to spell Tarczewski a bit or Brandon Ashley can play some five in spurts, but that does not change that fact that Tarczewski is a proven commodity at the five.
As last season progressed, so did Tarczewski. He definitely had his rough spots but, by the end of the season, Arizona head coach Sean Miller liked how he was coming along as a player.
"Kaleb continues to evolve and improve," Miller said. "He is nowhere near where he can be or is going to be, but if you look back at December and where he was there, it is a great improvement."
Tarczewski's strengths and weaknesses may be the most obvious out of any of the Arizona players. He is strong, a solid defender, and can score around the basket. In terms of weaknesses, Tarczewski must improve his hands, be able to keep up with small lineups, and work on his confidence.
The end of last season showed a more confident Tarczewski and he admitted as such, giving credit to his teammates in the process.
"It's tough being a freshman, but as the games go on I gain confidence," he said. "At the beginning of the season I was struggling to find my way, but the team's been doing a great job of finding me and getting me the ball. That's been helping me with my confidence and I'm starting to find myself."
It is a good thing that Tarczewski's confidence is increasing because he really does not have much of a choice but to become a better player and be an integral part of the Wildcats' success.
If you take a look at Arizona's losses, most of them did not include a strong performance by Tarczewski. He had 6 points and 4 rebounds in the Oregon loss, 0 points in the first loss to UCLA, 6 points in losses to both California and Colorado, and other relatively disappointing performances.
On the same note, when Tarczewski played well, Arizona generally won. Sure, there were games that Arizona won when he did not play well. However, increased success by Tarczewski meant a high increase in success for the team as a whole.
To say that Arizona's success next season depends on Tarczewski's performance would be short sighted. However, you can make a legitimate argument that his performance could wind up being the difference between an Elite Eight and a national title.
If Tarczewski is able to play well and become the player that many think he has the potential to be, Arizona is going to be much better for it. Each player on Arizona is important for numerous reasons, but the lack of depth at center means that Tarczewski's contributions may be a little more important than others.