May 17, 2011, 2:05 AM EDT
Josiah Turner’s primed to be one of the impact freshmen next season. Arizona sure hopes so.
Starting point guard Momo Jones will transfer, leaving Turner as the Wildcats’ likely floor leader and creating some uncertainty around the Pac-10 favorites. Losing conference player of the year Derrick Williams was bad enough. But Jones’ absence leaves them without a primary ball-handler and thrusts Turner into the spotlight.
“I want it to be known that I love this program, my coaches and teammates,” Jones said in a statement released by Arizona. “I appreciate everyone for supporting me through this tough time.”
The Harlem, N.Y., native wants to play closer to home and “in particular my grandmother.”
The flip side? Jones’ departure could be a boon.
Jones was capable of fantastic stretches – he killed it late in the season and in the Sweet 16 victory vs. Duke – and maddening moments. Adding Turner and Nick Johnson, another highly touted guard, sounds as if it could’ve created chemistry problems and derailed a talented roster.
Of course, Turner may not be ready.
Highly touted point guards don’t always thrive as freshmen (ask Washington fans about Abdul Gaddy’s first season) and there’s a possibility he might not even qualify. The NCAA is scrutinizing the academics of his high school, Quality Education Academy.
Expect Turner to start, but to be flanked by Johnson and guard Kyle Fogg, who’s not a natural point guard but is the most experienced member of the 2011-12 backcourt.
The Wildcats may thrive. They certainly wouldn’t be the first to do so with a freshman point guard.
But there level of uncertainty in Tucson just increased a bit.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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