ARIZONA

Tommy Lloyd preaches patience as Arizona awaits draft decisions, thinks Wildcats are 'in great shape'

Patience, preaches Tommy Lloyd.

The Arizona head basketball coach knows things have probably been a little stressful for Wildcat fans since the year ended. Star guard Bennedict Mathurin has officially declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, but his announcement was expected. Lloyd told reporters on Thursday that he knew. “(Mathurin) and I had communicated all year openly about everything,” he said.

Now, center Christian Koloko and guard Dalen Terry are weighing jumps to the NBA as well, but either could realistically return. Lloyd’s message to them: choose wisely.

“These are big decisions that’ll impact the rest of your life,” Lloyd said. “And then, ultimately, whatever decision you make, it’s your responsibility to make it the right decision. That was basically my message to them.”

He said he tries to impress on his players that getting to the NBA isn’t a six-month window. Get as good as you can and at the end of the day, it’ll be pretty obvious when you’re ready, he says.

As of Thursday, both Koloko and Terry were still going through the process of deciding what to do. No decisions yet.

“Everything’s in flux,” Lloyd said.

Getting both of Koloko and Terry back would make Arizona an undeniable favorite heading into the 2022-23 season. Having to replace them both in conjunction with Mathurin would make things interesting for Lloyd as he enters Year 2. For right now, he’s trying not to fret too much about hypotheticals.

“April in college basketball is a crazy time,” he said. “Everybody takes a step back. Every coach wants to renegotiate, every player wants to know what their options are. … I feel good, guys. Obviously, there are no guarantees about anything, but I feel great that we’re gonna have a really good roster next year.”

Arizona will still have plenty of talent, but Koloko was the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Terry’s contributions, though not as publicized as some of Arizona’s other stars, were tremendous and vital.

That’s what has them on draft radars, after all. Koloko and Terry were both slotted as second-round picks in a recent mock from ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony. Koloko is the 36th overall prospect on Givony’s big board, Terry the 43rd.

Either could improve their stock with another year in Lloyd’s system. Either could see their stock rise in the pre-draft process.

No matter what happens, Lloyd likes his team.

“I think we’re in great shape,” he said. “I love where we’re at. People decide to do things for whatever reason. This is how I operate. I think we’re in a great position and I think we’re gonna have a really good roster next year. I think we’ll be extremely competitive and I’m excited about that.”

And, of course, the transfer portal will play a role.

“You try to look at the options available,” he said. “For me, the No. 1 options available are always the guys currently on the team, and I’m trying to do what’s right by them.

“My favorite players are the ones on our roster. You try to help them figure out what they’re going to do, and give them some space so they and their families can do what they do, and then I try to fill in the gaps accordingly. There’s no crazy master plan or anything. It’s honestly just navigating things day-to-day and trying to make the best decisions you can for the program.”

Expect nothing less from the National Coach of the Year.

You can watch Lloyd’s entire session with reporters below:

Derek Peterson
Derek Peterson comes to the Pac-12 after years of serving as a college football beat writer at Oklahoma and Nebraska. He's a firm believer that teams should never punt.
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