These days when you think about players leaving a program, Arizona State is the first to come to mind. While Arizona has a long way to go to catch up to the number of players who have left Tempe, they too have quietly lost three players now since the beginning of the 2011-12 season.
According to reports on Tuesday, freshman guard Josiah Turner and junior center Kyryl Natyazhko will be leaving the program. Natyazhko apparently has received some opportunities to play basketball in Europe and Turner will transfer to another program.
Allow me to begin with Kyryl. I look at this as a positive for both the Wildcats and for him. The Cats have three dynamic big men coming to Tucson next season as part of the nations number one recruiting class. If Kyryl could not find a way to get himself off the bench without the team having a true center on the team last season, then what makes him believe he will be able to do so as a senior? Don’t forget about Angelo Chol as well. Maybe whatever team he lands on in Europe will allow him to post up on the three point line like you know he would love to do.
I do not see Kyryl as a disappointment even though many might. I see him more as a player at a position that Sean Miller desperately needed in his first recruiting class (which continues to be his best class by far) and it just didn’t pan out. Lucky for the Wildcats Derrick Williams was strong and powerful enough to play out of position.
A little over a month ago, I had an unforgettable opportunity to talk basketball with a former Wildcat great who I will keep nameless. Part of our conversation was about Josiah Turner just after he was suspended for the Pac 12 tournament. This former player informed me that when he visited McKale Center for the Arizona Red-Blue game, people told him that Turner arrived on campus believing he would be one and done.
Now with Turner leaving the program, it leads me to believe that even though Turner physically arrived in Tucson for a season, he never mentally showed up. And once he realized that his hopes of being one and done was everything but attainable, he checked out.
Sean Miller is hard on his players. He demands the best out of them and for the most part, he gets the best in return.
That notion can be backed up with the play form guys Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom (when healthy) and even Jessie Perry over the last few seasons.
Turner never looked like he cared to put in that extra effort and the Cats just don’t need that kind of personality running the show from the back court.
However now, ‘Point Guard U’ is without a stand out point guard. Jordin Mayes will need to get healthy and will really need to get back the confidence we saw out of him in March of 2011 and out of the gates of this past season.
Nick Johnson’s strength as a basketball player is not facilitating and creating. It is slashing and scoring. While he probably would never mind playing point guard, I would hate to see his confidence take a hit by playing out of position.
Two players did transfer to the program this past weekend.
Duquesne point guard T.J. McConell and former Sabino High School standout Matt Korcheck will join the Wildcats but both will not be playing next season. McConnell has to sit out a season as a transfer and Korcheck plans to redshirt.
I personally am excited to see what McConnell will be able to do in a Wildcat uniform because he really seems like a Sean Miller type of player. I remember how much Miller praised the point guard after player against him early last season.
But that does not immediately help the team.
Sean Miller does have an extra scholarship now available to him. I would have to believe that has point guard written all over it.
Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett could be one and done talents. For the Wilcat nation, they better hope that they do not come in with the Turner mentality and rather have the Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist mentality when they arrive on campus.
Even without a proven point guard, the amount of talent that will be on the Wildcats roster next season can still make for a lot of excitement.
For more on the Wildcats, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.