New School All-Stars

 

Yesterday I featured the first segment, the “Old School All-Stars,” of a three-part series looking back at the many great players that have put on the cardinal and navy uniforms to play for Lute Olson. Below is assembled the “New School All-Stars,” players who graduated or declared for the NBA draft from 1997 through today. As you’re reading keep in mind the criteria. Oh yeah, and don’t forget – if you don’t agree with my starters, who I have on the team, or who I left off – let me know and tell me what you would change and why!

 

Mike Bibby
Mike Bibby

Point Guard:

Mike Bibby – Bibby was a sure-handed point guard for the Wildcats who came in with a great basketball IQ and was a respected floor general his freshman year. Bibby had the innate ability to hit the open man, get to the rim, and come up with a timely steal. The only thing lacking for him to be irrefutably the best point guard in UA history is two more years in cardinal and navy.

 

 

Shooting Guard: Miles Simon – Simon was not the most talented shooting guard to come through Arizona, and likely not even during the time period. But Simon was a hard worker and got the job done regardless. You can argue stats and abilities on this one all day long. Salim was a better shooter and more athletic, Adams, a SG/SF, was more athletic and a better defender. But the one thing you can’t argue is that when push came to shove if it needed to be done Simon did it. He had an uncanny knack for coming up with the big play. He was a positive influence on his teammates, and so much more. Simon’s immeasurable attributes far outweigh any stat or athleticism that could be argued against him.

 

Michael Dickerson

Michael Dickerson

Small Forward:

Michael Dickerson – This is one of my more controversial picks. Many people view Richard Jefferson as the best small forward during this time. Jefferson was good, but Dickerson was an out-right stud. Throughout his career Dickerson’s stats are far weightier than any other SF, Sean Elliott excluded. Dickerson frequently defended bigger players and had the capability of shutting down just about anyone he faced. If that’s not enough for you look at his ‘96-’97 stats. 18.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, and 1.1 spg. Those figures are made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that he played a lot of that season with a back injury which limited his ability.

 

 

 

Power Forward:

Michael Wright – Wright is the only true power forward that even qualifies during this time period, but that’s not the only reason he’s on here. Wright was a monster on the blocks. He was big used his size well, always knew were to be for the rebound, and could create his own shot on taller frontcourt players. He is the epitome of what a power forward should be. Strong, hard working, athletic, and a fighter.

 

 

Center: Channing Frye – When I think ‘Center’ I think of someone that can block or alter opponents shots so well that they don’t want to find the paint when they’re shooting. That’s exactly what Frye had the capability of doing. Frye was a long athletic center that could run with the guards on the team. Frye had the stats, the big game performances, and the abilities to put him in a rare class of great Arizona front court players.

Bench:

PG: Jason Terry – Lightning quick, aggressive defender, play maker, all the things you want out of a leader. His first two years Terry came off the bench as the 6th man. Anytime he entered the game it was an instant spark. Terry brought energy, hustle, and an extra gear that left opponents in the dust. I almost created a “Sixth Man” slot just to fit him in for his first two years alone. But Terry is a guy that belongs on this roster, period.

PG: Jason Gardner – Jason Gardner was a stat-junkies dream. He quietly put together solid game after solid game. He wasn’t flashy, cocky, or very loudly spoken. But he was the general for four years and because of it has the best stats of any point guard in Arizona history. That would almost make him a “no brainer” for the starting role, wouldn’t it? Not even close.

Sure Gardner’s numbers were good, and he was on the ‘01 team that went to the National Championship game. Here’s the rub though, Gardner, unlike Bibby played four years, not two – so if Bibby had stuck around for his whole education, do you honestly think that Gardner would still be the best statistically? The other issue I have is Jason Terry only started for two years, and was the sixth man for two as well. He’s another candidate that if he’d started four years things would’ve been different.

 

Simon, Dickerson, Bibby

NCAA Champs: Simon, Dickerson, Bibby

SG: Salim Stoudamire –

Salim was a lethal combination of speed, athleticism, and of course assassin-like shooting. Salim had such a lightning quick first step that if he wanted to get by someone it was almost guaranteed. He was so fast that the threat of him taking off made his jab step so effective that he would’ve had time to set himself before for a long three before the defense could recover. Olson claimed him as “one of the best guards he’s ever coached.”

 

 

SF: Richard Jefferson – I’m sure many of you would have RJ as a starter on this All-Star team, after all he’s an athletic freak of nature, can shoot, played tough defense, and was the all-around player. Jefferson was a walking ESPN Top 10 highlight reel.

SF: Hassan Adams – Hassan “Hot Sauce” Adams was vastly underrated in my mind. Adams did what a lot of the other small forwards on this list did, but he pretty much carried the entire team his senior season. He was athletic, a hard worker, and a defensive menace. Just about any time – the ‘05 loss to Illinois excluded – that Adams wanted to get to the rim, he did. The knock on Adams? He was a terrible three-point shooter.

SF: Andre Iguodala – The final wingman to get on this list that was strong, athletic and fast. Iguodala was a good rebounded, a solid defender, and could explode to the rim every time. He is the final wingman on the list because he only played for two years for the ‘Cats before taking off so Adams is ahead of him, and he couldn’t shoot from beyond the arc either, so RJ and Dickerson are ahead of him.

C: Loren Woods – As I said before about centers, I love a guy that is an defensive intimidator. Woods has the highest blocks per game average in UA history with 3.4 (in an Arizona jersey). During a game against Stanford at Maples he set the Arizona record for blocks in a half. The knock I have on Woods is that he frequently found himself out of position for rebounds and didn’t have the interior post moves that Frye, Wright, or Williams (see Old School All-Stars) had.

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