Arizona, a state that has a long tradition of making the NBA Playoffs, has been making an effort to make a splash in the sport in recent years, but has been far from a sure thing in the past.
That’s not entirely surprising considering that the state has a population of only about 2.3 million, making it a much smaller market than many other NBA-rich states like California, which has a total of more than 25 million people.
Arizona has struggled to find a way to get big-name recruits, as well as a talented roster of players who can play both point guard and small forward, and it also lacks a consistent national basketball fan base.
But the state’s current roster of basketball players has a potential to make it one of the most successful in the league, if the team can keep the ball moving at a consistent clip.
“The whole process for us was pretty much like the NBA,” said Brandon Toney, a six-foot-nine, 215-pound forward from the nearby town of Glendale.
“We’re not in the NBA yet.
Arizona’s new team is the Arizona Wildcats, the team that made it to the Final Four in 2011-12 and finished in the top four of the conference a year later. “
There’s so much more to be excited about.”
Arizona’s new team is the Arizona Wildcats, the team that made it to the Final Four in 2011-12 and finished in the top four of the conference a year later.
The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 8 in the latest ESPN.com/USA Today Coaches Poll, with Toney leading the team in scoring (14.5 points per game), assists (5.4) and rebounding (3.9) behind a talented frontcourt of Jordan Adams, Jordan Hamilton, and Marcus Smart.
Toney said the team’s new starting lineup is the most diverse and diverse group he has ever seen in the game.
The team has added three different big men: Jordan Adams and Marcus Green are both 6-foot, 215 pounds and have combined to average 19.4 points per contest this season, while Jordan Hamilton is 6-5 and has played in all 40 games he has played this season.
Tony said the Wildcats will try to add another big man to the mix later in the season, but he doesn’t see the team losing any big-time talent.
“That’s one of our strengths,” Toney told The Arizona Republic.
“With Jordan and Marcus, I think they’re really good players, and that’s a good team to be around.
I think the depth is going to be there.”
The team’s starting lineup, which includes four freshmen, includes four point guards: Marcus Smart, Jordan Adams Jr., Jordan Hamilton and Brandon Tony.
The Arizona Wildcats play their games at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ stadium in Tempe, which is the largest in the state, but Toney acknowledged the team would have to compete for a venue in Arizona’s other three major cities to have any real chance of winning games.
“It’s a tough market to play in,” he said.
“But we’ve been working on it.
We’re excited to get back out there.
We’ve got a lot of guys on the court who have been playing basketball in the states, so hopefully we’ll be playing some of our best basketball.”
Toney was a part of Arizona’s NBA-bound team that won a national championship in 2011 and was selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity to be on the team, but it’s all about making sure we keep working on what we’re doing,” Tony told the Republic.
Tonesons rookie season has been anything but typical, as the team has struggled early on.
“My first game was kind of rough, but my second game was great,” he told the newspaper.
“Coach [Joe] Brunson [Arizona’s coach] told me after I was in the locker room after the game, ‘I’m going to tell you guys to play harder, because I’m going back in and I’m taking care of you guys, so make sure you’re ready for the game.'”
But the team rebounded quickly after Toney’s first game and has since made a run to the top of the Pac-12 standings.
Toni Williams, Arizona’s coach, said the biggest reason the team is improving is the group of players the team brought in for its upcoming tournament run.
“A lot of people didn’t want to come, so we brought in some new players,” Williams told the paper.
“And that’s helped us out.”
For now, Toney is just hoping the team does well and that he can be a part to make an impression on the rest of the country.
“This is the first time I’m playing in the NCAA Tournament,” he added.
“To play in the Final four, that’s unbelievable.
I mean, it’s like, we just got a dream.”
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