A Player's Preview: Eastern New Mexico - Tucson News Now

A Player's Preview: Eastern New Mexico

TUCSON, AZ -

Arizona Basketball ceremoniously kicked off the season with the McDonald's Red-Blue Game two week ago. Now Arizona takes its next step towards the 2017-18 season with its first exhibition versus Eastern New Mexico on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. (MST) inside McKale Center. 

It will be the first of two home exhibitions for the Wildcats who will welcome Chico State to Tucson on Sunday.

The Arizona Wildcats enter the 2017-18 season following a 32-5 season one year ago. It was the seventh season of 30 or more wins in program history and the fourth under head coach Sean Miller. 

UA is the defending Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions after splitting the season title with Oregon with an impressive 16-2 record in league play and defeated a pair of top-5 ranked teams in back-to-back nights en route to the tournament crown. 

Arizona participated in its 32nd NCAA Tournament in program history while advancing the program's NCAA record under Miller to 13-6 (.684) and its 18th Sweet 16 appearance.

The Wildcats return a trio of starters and a healthy dose of lettermen in 2017-18. Rawle Alkins, Dusan Ristic and Allonzo Trier are three returning players with a combined 73 games started between them.

Trier is tied with Stanford's Reid Travis as the conference's leading returning scorer at 17.2 points per game.

Ristic is adept at scoring with either hand and worked this summer on becoming a better defender. 

Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright had one of the nation’s best assist-to-turnover ratios a year ago.

Alkins is a dynamic player, though will be out until December with a broken foot.

The squad welcomes one of the top recruiting classes in the country headlined by freshman DeAndre Ayton, a supremely athletic big man at 7-foot-1, 260 pounds who could end up being one of the nation’s best players. 

Guard Emmanuel Akot’s decision to reclassify for the 2017-18 season gives Arizona’s backcourt a huge boost and G Alex Barcello provides coach Sean Miller lineup options. 

Brandon Randolph could be the outside shooter Arizona has missed the past few seasons.

The arrest of assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson for allegedly paying a recruit to play at Arizona hangs over the Wildcats as they head into the season and could follow them throughout. 

The key will be whether it becomes a distraction because, on the court, the Wildcats have as much talent as any team in the country. If everyone remains eligible and the probe does not hit the program any deeper, the Wildcats have the type of roster that could finally get Miller to the Final Four.

Copyright 2017 Arizona Athletics. All rights reserved.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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