The Arizona Wildcats made a significant addition Saturday, landing a commitment from four-star shooting guard Devonaire Doutrive, a top-100 prospect.
He is the Wildcats’ first 2018 commit and their scholarship-player total now sits at seven for 2018-19 season (we took a look at what Doutrive could bring to Tucson here).
Arizona can still add up to six more players this offseason, and here are its most glaring needs:
A shot-creating guard
The Wildcats are losing their top five scorers and five of their top six assisters, so it’s imperative they add someone who can create offense.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to add a pass-first point guard, rather a lead guard who can handle the ball and take on a large offensive burden, creating shots for himself and/or others.
This is especially true since Arizona’s frontcourt will be more dependent on the team’s perimeter players for offense next season. Chase Jeter and Ira Lee just aren’t the type of players (at least not yet) who can create at the low- and high-block the way Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic did.
The most obvious shot-creator Arizona can add is former commit Brandon Williams, a high-four-star point guard who averaged 24.7 points per game and earned Mission League MVP honors as a senior at Crespi High School.
He is a two-time state champion and someone accustomed to being the primary ball-hander on his team.
If it’s not Williams, then perhaps Arizona can add four-star point guard James Akinjo, though he is ranked much lower than Williams.
If Akinjo and Williams go elsewhere, the Wildcats would have to scour the grad transfer market. They have been connected to guards like Albany’s Joe Cremo, Fordham’s Joseph Chartouny,and Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Ehab Amin, who have experience playing the point.
There is also the possibility that one or two of Arizona’s returners will develop and take on a playmaking role next season, but none of them showed they were capable of doing that so it’s not a bad idea to add other options.
Arizona does have returners who look like they can be adept shooters — Dylan Smith, Brandon Randolph, and Alex Barcello in particular — but none of them shot above 33 percent from beyond the arc this past season.
In fact, Emmanuel Akot is Arizona’s best returning 3-point shooter from a statistical perspective (.375), albeit he shot them at a much lower rate.
So adding someone who can fill it up from the behind the arc is needed since it’s difficult to win in modern basketball if you can’t make 3s at a high percentage.
Evansville grad transfer guard Ryan Taylor would have been a great addition, but he recently committed to Northwestern, so he’s not an option.
Cremo and Florida Gulf Coast’s Zach Johnson fit the bill here, too, but the ideal addition would be Pitt’s Ryan Luther, who is contemplating becoming a grad transfer.
At 6-foot-9, Luther would provide a wrinkle Arizona doesn’t otherwise have — a frontcourt player who can space the floor.
He shot 12-31 (.387) from 3 in 10 games this past season before suffering a season-ending foot injury. For his career, Luther is 34-of-82 from distance (.415).
So he, or any big man that can shoot, would be a nice complement to Lee and Jeter who are best near the basket.
Arizona sorely needs frontcourt depth. Right now, it has one true center (Jeter), a smaller four (Lee), and a 3-4 tweener (Akot).
Sheer size is becoming less and less important in the current pace-and-space era of basketball, but depth is always needed. Especially since Lee was vulnerable to foul trouble as a freshman, averaging 7.2 per 40 minutes.
Plus, none of the three players listed above have proven they can play at a high level.
Other than Luther, possible additions include Idaho State 7-footer Novak Topalovic, Old Dominion’s Trey Porter, and 2018 recruit Lukas Kisunas, who is reportedly officially visiting Arizona next weekend.
Arizona is also making a late push for 5-star forward and McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown, who can still make one more official visit.
While Arizona’s frontcourt won’t be as offensively gifted next season, Jeter and Lee could be better defensively than Ristic and Ayton. Akot taking over at small forward for Allonzo Trier should be an upgrade in that regard, too.
But the outlook isn’t so rosy at the 1 and the 2 where Randolph, Smith, Doutrive, and Barcello will have a lot to prove.
Arizona is coming off its worst year defensively under Sean Miller, and was beaten off the dribble far too often. That needs to change and Chartouny and Amin could help.
Amin was one of the nation’s leaders in steals as a junior (he missed his senior season due to injury), while the 6-foot-3 Chartouny averaged 3.0 steals and rated as Fordham’s best defender in 2017-18.