UA HOOPS

UA basketball: Topsy-turvy NBA draft could mean good things for Hill, Jerrett

Lesser-used Wildcats could be taken ahead of stalwart like Hill
2013-06-27T12:30:00Z 2013-06-29T18:32:01Z UA basketball: Topsy-turvy NBA draft could mean good things for Hill, JerrettBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 27, 2013 12:30 pm  • 

For the Arizona Wildcats, today's NBA draft could turn into Opposite Day.

Instead of boasting the usual lottery pick or first-round draftee, the Wildcats are putting forth their most accomplished candidate in Solomon Hill … who might be a second-round pick. That's despite his four years of continual improvement, All-Pac-12 honors and widely admired intangibles.

And the guy who just might get picked ahead of Hill? That would be Grant Jerrett, who left UA after only starting two games as a freshman last season and wasn't expected to beat incoming freshman Aaron Gordon out of next year's lineup, either.

For those who believe in the value of stick-to-itiveness, the head-scratching doesn't stop there. Among the point guards drawing looks on this year's predraft circuit include two guys who left the Wildcats prematurely: MoMo Jones, who transferred to Iona as a junior in 2011, and Josiah Turner, who left Arizona in spring 2012 to play in Europe and Canada after a turbulent freshman season.

What's more, there's also the fact that center Jeff Withey could be the highest pick of them all. He spent only four months in Tucson and never played in a game for the Wildcats.

Withey had a major reason to leave, however: He opted out almost immediately after coach Lute Olson retired in October 2008, leaving so quickly that he wasn't around when that season's Wildcats went to the Sweet 16 nor when they hired Sean Miller the following spring.

From a basketball perspective, though, there may at least be some sense in the Jerrett-over-Hill scenario. The NBA draft has long been about potential as much if not more than production and Jerrett is a 19-year-old who is 6-foot-10 (with shoes) and can hit long-range jumpers.

"If you're taking Jerrett, you're saying he's a young guy who has a chance to be really good," said ESPN's Jay Bilas, a college basketball and NBA draft analyst. "If he stayed in school, he could have been a top 10 talent. I don't know if he would have, but he's got that kind of potential.

"And no disrespect to Solomon Hill - I think Solomon's going to play in the NBA - but you can get another Solomon Hill. So maybe you take a risk and pass on him."

After speaking with several NBA executives, Miller said he believes that Hill could be taken late in the first round or early in the second, though many mock drafts have Hill further down.

Miller said what he's heard about Jerrett is much more varied.

"They're almost in two different categories," Miller said. "Grant is investing for down the road whereas for Solomon, they're thinking he's more ready now.

"Our hope is that both get drafted. That would be great for our program but most important it would be really great for themselves and their families if they were."

Here's a closer look at the 2013 draft potential of the seven players who have worn Wildcats uniforms (at least in practice):

Solomon Hill

Forward

Size: 6-5 1/2, 226

Age: 22

Projected pick: 56 (ESPN), 56 (Draft Express), undrafted (NBADraft.net)

Why: Hill has improved every season in college and, while he doesn't excel in any one area, is solid in everything.

Why not: Hill is only 6-5 1/2, so he won't be able to create mismatches at power forward as he did in college, and doesn't have elite athleticism.

He said it: "I think he's going to be a pretty good NBA three-point shooter, and he can defend his position. Guys like that are certainly valuable in today's NBA." - Suns GM Ryan McDonough

Grant Jerrett

Forward

Size: 6-9, 232

Age: 19

Projected pick: 39 (ESPN), 45 (NBADraft.net), 58 (Draft Express)

Why: Jerrett possesses the exact size and skills to fill out one of the NBA's most valued roles - a "stretch four," a power forward who can roam to the perimeter and shoot.

Why not: There's no telling if Jerrett can develop strength and other skills enough to get on the court. At best, he may need a year or two on an NBA bench or in the D-League.

He said it: "His body's got to mature a little bit. But you can see the talent. I think most NBA teams are looking for a guy who can step away from the basket and that's kind of the role I see Grant in." - McDonough

MoMo Jones

Guard

Size: 5-11, 194

Age: 22

Projected pick: Undrafted

Why: Jones was the nation's third-leading scorer (22.6) as a senior last season at Iona, where he landed after transferring from Arizona before the 2011-12 season. He's a clutch scoring guard who does not lack confidence.

Why not: Jones is just shy of 6-feet tall and lacks elite point guard skills and speed to make it in the NBA with that height.

He said it: "I think being at Arizona helped me out as a point guard. It helped me be more of a vocal leader and learn to play point guard. Then going to Iona helped my scoring and allowed me to put it all together." - Jones, to cityleaguehoops.net

Mark Lyons

Guard

Size: 6-0, 195

Age: 23

Projected pick: Undrafted

Why: Lyons appeared to grow as a point guard after being thrown into a new position on a new team at Arizona last season, showing a knack for gutsy scoring in clutch moments.

Why not: Lyons has a scorer's DNA, making him a 6-foot tall combo guard in NBA eyes.

He said it: "He doesn't look like the type of guard NBA teams are usually interested in. But I think he's a really good player who could have a long, lucrative career in Europe." - Chad Ford, ESPN draft analyst

Kevin Parrom

Guard

Size: 6-6, 220*

Age: 22

Projected pick: Undrafted

Why: Parrom has good size, toughness and versatility for a wing player.

Why not: He lacks elite quickness and shooting ability and spent much of his college career dealing with injuries and a gunshot wound.

He said it: "The realization is that Kevin is most likely to be undrafted. But I never say never and you work on getting him on an NBA summer league team. If he's on the floor and playing well, that will create opportunities." - Todd Ramasar, Parrom's agent

Josiah Turner

Guard

Size: 6-3, 183

Age: 20

Projected pick: Undrafted

Why: Turner is a true pass-first point guard who showed flashes of NBA potential as a passer and athlete at UA, and he finished his first pro season strongly in Canada.

Why not: His talent may not justify the baggage he carries with him, after multiple suspensions at UA and a DUI arrest that led to two days at Pima County Jail this spring.

He said it: "I matured a lot being around a lot of veterans (last season). … It'll be great if an NBA team takes a chance and drafts me because of my athleticism, my hunger, my size, my potential and the way that I pass." - Turner, in a Draft Express predraft video interview

Jeff Withey

Center

Size: 6-11, 222

Age: 23

Projected pick: 28 (Draft Express), 33 (NBADraft.net), 35 (ESPN)

Why: After transferring from Arizona, Withey spent 2 1/2 mostly nondescript seasons at Kansas before developing into an elite defender. He has good athleticism and a 7-foot-3-inch wingspan.

Why not: At age 23, Withey may have nearly hit his ceiling of potential, and he doesn't project as a reliable inside scorer.

He said it: "He's slight of build so getting and holding his position is going to be an issue for him. He can make a face-up shot but he's not a low-post scorer. He's more of a guy that you'd have in there to defend and block shots. He's a backup center in the league, but he's a valuable piece. As a late first-round pick, he's valuable." - Bilas

Note: * - UA measurements. All other measurements are official from NBA, as recorded by Draft Express.

Rim shots

• Arizona has scheduled its annual Red-Blue Game scrimmage for Oct. 12 at 3 p.m., and will honor the 1994 Final Four team as part of the ceremonies. Full practices will begin on Sept. 27.

• Former Houston wing Joseph Young is likely to take a recruiting visit to Arizona on Sunday, according to his high school coach, Greg Wise, the father of former UA guards Nic and Dondre Wise. Young was a third-team All-Conference USA pick with the Cougars last season and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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