The debate has gone on throughout the 2014-15 Arizona Wildcats basketball season.
With the spectacular play of senior point guard T.J. McConnell, where does he stack up with the All-time greats at “Point Guard U?”
One former Arizona great who won a National Championship in 1997, now ESPN College Hoops Analyst Miles Simon, weighed in on the topic.
“Oh man, that’s a tough category because there are so many great ones if we count Steve Kerr and [Matt] Muehlebach and Damon [Stoudamire] and Jason Terry and Mike Bibby,” Simon told Brad Cesmat in an interview Wednesday. “But the impact that T.J. has made in just two years has been tremendous.
“I don’t think his leadership, I am not going to say is unmatched, but is right up there with some of the best leaders that Lute Olson ever had and I am sure in Miller’s tenure, T.J. is the best leader that Sean has ever had,” he mentioned. “The numbers aren’t going to rank out with being one of the best, but T.J. is going to go down as an all-time fan favorite and Wildcat-favorite as he should.”
So what has made McConnell so great and so important to the Wildcats this season from Simon’s point of view who may have as much or maybe even more talent around him than point guard in the past that have had to carry their Wildcat teams?
“Because of the type of intensity he plays with and his will to win, he has an innate ability to put guys on his back and it’s like an infectious mentality or attitude that he has,” Simon explained. “He doesn’t really care about too many things except for the bottom line which is pretty much two letters, W and L. Those are the only two things that matter to him and that’s the kind of player you want on your team.”
“He might not be the quickest guy, the tallest guy, the most athletic,” he added. “But man, the other things that he brings to the table you can’t really account for what’s inside of his brain and what’s inside of his heart.”
As for the Wildcats as a whole heading into the Sweet 16 against Xavier. Simon believes from what he has seen, despite a few things concerning him like the poor defensive effort giving up 72 points to Texas Southern and the fact that Stanley Johnson struggled from the floor against Ohio State, believes Arizona will take care of business this weekend based on how they’ve played to this point.
“U of A goes to the Final Four,” Simon Stated. “They will handle Xavier tomorrow night and I think they will play a great game against Wisconsin and extract revenge to what happened in the Elite Eight last year. The biggest difference is that Brandon Ashley will be playing. If you remember last year, Frank Kaminsky gave the Wildcats trouble with pick-n-pop opportunities. Kaleb Tarczewski just couldn’t get out and cover those…I think Arizona beats Wisconsin and faces Kentucky in the National Semi-Finals in Indy.”