One constant for Arizona basketball thus far under third-year coach Tommy Lloyd has been a changing roster. After his inaugural 33-4 season in 2021-22, the Wildcats saw three starters selected among the top 35 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft. Now, after reloading and finishing with a 28-7 record in Year 2, Lloyd is grappling with another significant talent exodus that includes star forward Azuolas Tubelis.
Four of the five starters from Arizona's first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Princeton are gone, and a trio of high-profile transfers are arriving to help replace their production. While a four-man freshman class is also in the mix, it looks more like a developmental group than one poised to make significant early contributions.
The rapid changes within the program's rotation stand in contrast to how Pac-12 rival UCLA was able to build a similarly potent contender in recent years. Bruins' coach Mick Cronin enjoyed rare continuity with players such as Tyger Campbell, David Singleton and Jaime Jaquez as hallmarks of the rotation for each of his first four seasons.
In Cronin's third season -- the 2021-22 campaign -- six of the Bruins' top eight rotation players had been with the program for the duration of his tenure. Lloyd's third team at Arizona is on track to feature only two players -- Pelle Larsson and Oumar Ballo -- who were part of his first rotation, and neither of them were starters back then. But in spite of the attrition, there is no doubt the Wildcats have reestablished themselves as one of the nation's top programs under Lloyd's direction. Can they sustain the momentum?
Players have reported to campus for summer workouts, and the countdown is on for the start of the 2023-24 season. As college basketball's offseason player movement cycle slows to a trickle, it's time to start breaking down the rosters of the sport's top programs. For this installment, we're taking a look at the Wildcats and trying to decipher what their lineup could look like when the season begins.
Projected starting lineup
6-2 | 195 | Fr.
Boswell reclassified and joined Arizona's 2022 recruiting class late in the cycle as the No. 25 overall player in the class. He played exclusively off the bench as a freshman, averaging 4.6 points and 1.6 assists per game in 15.2 minutes per contest. With Kerr Kriisa and Courtney Ramey gone, Boswell is poised for a larger role.
2. Caleb Love
6-4 | 200 | Sr.
Love initially committed to Michigan after three up and down seasons at North Carolina. But after an issue with his academic credits, he ended up back in the portal and at Arizona. As Lloyd said when announcing Love's signing, the guard is "tremendously talented." However, he's also been brutally inefficient on offense, and it will be a challenge for Lloyd to channel Love's abilities in a positive way.
3. Pelle Larsson
6-5 | 215 | Sr.
Larsson rated as Arizona's second-most efficient offensive player last season behind the departed Tubelis, according to EvanMiya.com. He was also the Pac-12's Sixth Man of the Year in the 2021-22 season and transitioned back to a bench role for the second half of last season. While bringing Larsson off the bench again is certainly an option for Lloyd, his combination of size and proven production makes him a natural option to start.
6-7 | 225 | Sr.
Johnson appeared in 113 games over four seasons at San Diego State and started 71 contests over the past two seasons. He's a good rebounder and versatile defender. Though his offensive repertoire is limited, he finished as SDSU's leading scorer in the Aztecs' loss to UConn in the national title game. He should complement Ballo well in the Wildcats' front court.
5. Oumar Ballo
7-0 | 260 | Sr.
Ballo is Arizona's leading returning scorer after a breakout season in which he averaged 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds on an impressive 64.7% shooting. Ballo is an old-school bruiser but his conditioning is superb for a player of his size, which allows him to thrive in Lloyd's fast-paced system. With Tubelis gone, look for Ballo to get even more touches than he did last season.
6-3 | 185 | So.
Bradley seemed destined to hold down a starting role before Love's commitment on May 30. He could still earn a starting spot, but a prominent bench role seems more likely as things stand in July. Ranked the No. 27 overall prospect in the Class of 2022, Bradley averaged 6.4 points and 3.1 assists in 19.8 minutes per game at Alabama before hitting the portal.
6-4 | 185 | Fr.
Lewis ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 81 overall player in the 2023 class, according to 247Sports. The Duncanville, Texas, native has particularly high upside on defense and is "powerful with a physical style," according to 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein. As the highest-rated player and the only American in the Wildcats' freshman class, it stands to reason that he'll be in the mix for minutes.
7-2 | 256 | Fr.
Krivas ranked as the No. 130 prospect, according to 247Sports. Lloyd lauded the Lithuanian big man for his interior touch, passing ability and potential impact as a rim protector. In U20 Euro Championship action for Lithuania this summer, he blocked 1.8 shots in just under 22 minutes per game. If the returning reserve bigs don't make jumps, Krivas has a chance to steal early playing time.
6-9 | 185 | So.
More can probably be learned about Borovicanin by examining his performance for Serbia in the U19 World Cup this summer than by trying to glean insights from the total of 54 minutes he played for Arizona as a freshman. He flashed his potential as a dynamic forward by averaging 14.1 points on 59.3% shooting inside the arc while representing his country. His 4-of-24 clip from beyond the arc was another story. But there's enough playmaking in his game to suggest he can contribute as a sophomore.
7-0 | 200 | So.
Veesaar appeared in 29 games as a true freshman last season, but the lanky Estonian logged just 7.1 minutes per contest and was used even less frequently in league play. He's in the mix to log minutes as Ballo's backup.
6-8 | 220 | Fr.
Murauskas joined the fold after ranking No. 102 in the class. Lloyd described the Lithuanian as a "dynamic forward." While the adjustment to the American style could be challenging, Murauskas has been playing high-level competition for years. He was a star for Lithuania in the FIBA U18 European Championship last summer and has a chance to make an impact on college basketball.
Dylan Anderson 7-0 | 240 | So.
Conrad Martinez 6-1 | N/A | Fr.
Anderson appeared in 15 games as a true freshman. Barring an impressive sophomore season jump, another development year could be in store for the Arizona native. Martinez ended the recruiting cycle as the No. 42 point guard in the class but is another international prospect with a learning curve ahead.