More than 14,000 showed up for the Arizona Wildcat’s basketball team’s annual red-blue scrimmage on Saturday afternoon to get their first look at a team that expects to be among the nation’s best in 2013-14.
It was a first look at the team for me as well. The following were the biggest takeaways I saw from the game.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Led all scorers in the game but that only begins to tell the story. The voice of the Wildcats, Brian Jeffries, on the broadcast mentioned that Hollis-Jefferson looks like a combination of Michael Dickerson and Andre Igoudala. He couldn’t be more spot on. The 6-8 freshman looks like an 18 year-old in a 30 year-old’s body. I was blow away with his play on the perimeter, his ability to score around the basket and create for himself. He was the best player on the floor on Saturday and to think he is projected to be the first or second player off the bench for this team. The bodes well for Sean Miller.
Brandon Ashley: Would be the guy that would have to step up his play because of the emergence of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. But he took looked very impressive in the game. He looks like he is much improved with play in the post and looked much more aggressive than he did for a lot of 2012-13. He might have the best post moves on the team. Plus he showed off his ability to shoot from the perimeter. Ashley has the talent, all they need now is the consistency. If he can be a triple threat in the post, mid-range and perimeter like he was Saturday, I don’t see very many off nights.
Aaron Gordon: Other than his dunks that won him the dunk contest before the start of the scrimmage before the game, Gordon didn’t do anything flashy. Which I actually really liked. People have seen his highlight videos that just show dunk after dunk. Those are great and all but I wanted to see more or Aaron Gordon the rebounder and Aaron Gordon in the half court. He did get off to a slow start in the game but his ability to rebound and push the ball up the floor at 6-9 blew me away. He looks like a load to handle around the offensive glass. That is an element the Wildcats could have definitely used last season. He will be a human highlight reel this season but I was pleased to see him as more of a complete basketball player.
Nick Johnson: There isn’t a lot of new things to report about Nick. He looks like the leader of this team and that is something that the team is going to need from him. I can’t believe he is already an upper class men. I remember when he was in the state championship game with his brother Chris at Highland. Time flies. The team will be successful behind his leadership. I felt like that was present in the scrimmage.
Yes it was just a scrimmage and you can’t take a lot from it. But there is one glaring concern for me that I think will be a problem for this Wildcats team this season if someone doesn’t step up. That is outside shooting. No, you don’t have to be a good three-point shooting team to win the whole thing. Defense and rebounding for the most part are more important. But if shots aren’t falling, you could have problems and from what I can see, there is not one sure-fire outside shooting on this team.
Nick Johnson can be the guy. T.J. McConnell and Gabe York could be as well. But you are looking at a team where there is not really a player that specializes in scoring from the perimeter. The Wildcats will see zone defenses this season with the amount of size they have. Zone’s are beaten from the inside out. Look what happened in the Oregon game in Eugene last season. There are other example of that as well.
The Cats will need there to be a player or two each night to step up into that role. I think if Gabe York, who is supposed to be their top outside shooter and has the best range, need to be that guy for them off the bench. That will not only help the team, but also York’s confidence.
Wildcats begin their much anticipated 2013-14 season on November 8th at McKale Center against Cal-Poly.
Check out highlights from the Red-Blue game from Arizona Athletics: