When the Arizona Wildcats signed Tommy Lloyd to be their next head coach, rebuilding their storied program wasn’t necessary. Lloyd spent the previous 20 seasons as an assistant coach at Gonzaga, helped recruit and develop 19 All-Americans and 15 West Coast Conference Players of the Year and also contributed to five consecutive 30-win seasons, including two national championship appearances.
Therefore, he was expected to come in and deliver right away, given an already-talented roster, the allure of an historically-great program and all of the resources that exist because of that status.
After all, some of the players he helped develop into pros include: Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura, Kelly Olynyk, Zach Collins, Adam Morrison, Brandon Clarke, Kyle Wiltjer, Austin Daye, Robert Sacre, Ronny Turiaf, Jeremy Pargo and Elias Harris, among others.
We might have a few more names to add to that list sooner rather than later.
If you take a look at Arizona’s roster, it’s obvious that cultivating international prospects is going to be a major focus for Lloyd and his staff. He has a proven knowledge of European basketball and many strong connections overseas. In his welcome statement, Arizona noted that he contributed to the signing of Gonzaga’s international players such as Martynas Arlauskas (Lithuania), Joel Ayayi (France), Oumar Ballo (Mali) and Pavel Zakharov (Russia). Also included are Japanese National Team member Hachimura; Polish National Team member Przemek Karnowski, Lithuanian National Team member Sabonis, Canadians Kevin Pangos, Olynyk and Sacre, Germans Harris and Mathis Mönninghoff, JP Baptista (Brazil), Frenchmen Turiaf, Killian Tillie and Mathis Keita, Filip Petrusev (Serbia), Guy Landry Edi (Ivory Coast), and Addullahi Kuso (Nigeria).
Get Today's Picks for All SportsOnly $4.99Buy Now
As you can see, that’s a pretty long list.
Axed head coach Sean Miller had made a habit of recruiting international players to Tucson, and Arizona’s status as a desired destination for overseas talent was likely a factor in Lloyd’s desire to leave Spokane.
The #11 Wildcats are off to a perfect 6-0 start and have been aided by an international foursome: 6’11 sophomore forward Azuolas Tubelis (Lithuania), who averages 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 23.8 minutes, 7’1 junior center Christian Koloko (Cameroon), who averages 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 23.5 minutes, 6’6 sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin (Canada), who averages 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in 29.0 minutes and 6’3 sophomore guard Kerr Kriisa (Estonia), who averages 10.0 points and 5.3 assists in 25.2 minutes.
As the Wildcats play their first Pac-12 game on Sunday, against Oregon State (1-7), the aforementioned players will likely begin to see extended looks on the floor in tighter games. However, to this point, the Wildcats lead the country in average scoring margin at +33 and already owns a 80-62 dominant win over a then-ranked #4 Michigan team.
At +3300 to win the national title on BetMGM, there’s a ton of value in backing the Wildcats at the moment. Don’t wait for them to keep winning before placing that bet, because this might be the last time we see odds that long!