Arizona's Courtney Ramey talks transfer, Tommy Lloyd, and bringing the battle
When Courtney Ramey narrowed his list of interested teams to five finalists, he sat down and watched every game each of those teams played last season.
In Arizona, he found a free-flowing offense. He found a team that feeds off the energy it gets from the home crowd. He found a coach who inspires belief in his players and, most importantly, reciprocates that belief. He found a point guard he wanted to play next to in Kerr Kriisa.
“The opportunity to play with a player like Kerr, to play in a good program, to have a good coach that believes in me, I think that was the biggest selling point for me,” Ramey told reports on Wednesday.
The former Texas guard committed to coach Tommy Lloyd and the Wildcats back in June. He figures to give Arizona one of the best backcourts in the country. Kriisa can shoot. Ramey wants to end the upcoming season on the All-Pac-12 Defensive Team. Both can handle the ball and run an offense. Both can work as an off-guard.
“Me and Kerr texted every day when I was going through the draft process,” he said. “We had a great connection there. Then playing with him for the first time a couple weeks ago, you could see we can do special things. We both can shoot the ball, we both can play on and off the ball. I just think it’s gonna be fun to play games with him, with his energy, I can match that and bring a lot of excitement for the fanbase.”
Ramey also spoke with Dalen Terry, the Wildcats’ recent first-round draft pick. He asked Terry about Lloyd, about what kind of coach he would potentially be playing for.
“That he (Lloyd) believed in Dalen,” Ramey recalled. “I mean, Dalen proved a lot of people wrong by going first round. I think Coach Lloyd had a lot to do with that. If he can do that for Dalen, I feel like he could do the same for me.”
After four years with the Longhorns and appearances in 128 of a possible 129 games, Ramey entered the transfer portal at the end of March. He put his name into the NBA Draft pool at the same time, but pulled out prior to the June 1 deadline.
Ramey averaged 9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a night last season while shooting 35% from 3-point range and 39% from the field. It was a different role under first-year coach Chris Beard the one he filled as a junior under Shaka Smart. In 2020-21, Ramey averaged 12.2 points and 3.2 assists in 33 minutes a night while shooting 41% from the 3-point line. His usage rate dropped under Beard and his 3-point rate jumped over 50%.
Smart’s offense was more free-flowing. More ball screens. Close to what Lloyd deploys. Beard’s offense was more deliberate, more motion. According to KenPom, only 22 Division I teams (of 358) played at a slower adjusted tempo than Texas. Arizona, on the other hand, played at the ninth-fastest.
Ramey said he feels like his offensive game will grow in the Pac-12. It’ll have to. He’ll be challenged. The Big 12, he said, is more of a defensive-minded league.
“Big 12 was a battle,” he said. Arizona got a crash course in that when it ran into TCU in the NCAA Tournament. The physicality almost proved too much. “Coming here, I feel like I can bring that over to the team.”
Ramey was asked if he’s the kind of player who sets goals. He said team and individual goals are important to keep. “I feel like looking at those every day is gonna drive you when the days get hard, when the times get hard, when things go left,” he said. “They shouldn’t be season goals. They should be daily goals.”
The new Arizona guard hasn’t yet decided if he’s going to stay in Tucson—the heat, he said, is worse than in Texas—or travel a bit before things ramp up. Wherever he goes, though, he’ll find a gym.
“I don’t want to take any steps back by taking a break,” he said.
Ramey wants to help Arizona win. The team goal is the ultimate prize.
“For me, I’m just gonna do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “If Coach needs me on the ball, I can do that. If he needs me off the ball, I can do that. I’ve shown that throughout my career at Texas. I’m ready to translate it here, too.”