For the past few years, Arizona was seen as a powerhouse in college basketball. Due to great recruiting and coaching, the Wildcats have been perennial contenders in the Pac-12. However, things changed when recruiting scandals swept over the program. They imposed a one-year postseason ban last year after the NCAA released multiple violations, and Sean Miller is no longer the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats.
Tommy Lloyd is the new man in Tucson. He was hired after two decades of working for Gonzaga as an assistant coach. He will be in charge of changing the culture of Arizona basketball, and he’s already started by changing the roster.
Arizona had a very weak recruiting class with only one four-star recruit. After having a top-10 recruiting class in 2020, they didn’t even have a top-10 class in the conference last year. However, they did gain experience in the Transfer Portal.
Justin Kier is a senior transfer looking to make a splash in his final year of eligibility. He started at George Mason before transferring to UGA. After one year with the Bulldogs, he decided to find a new home, and he’s found it in Tucson.
So, what impact can he have for the Wildcats?
What the Arizona Wildcats Need
Arizona is in the middle of an identity shift. Sean Miller was the head coach of the Wildcats since 2009, and he’s now gone. He had a winning season every year he was at Arizona, so the standard his high. This first season will be a true test for Tommy Lloyd. He has to show that the standard is still high for Arizona basketball.
Arizona doesn’t need to win a national title to prove that they are still relevant. They just need a solid season that keeps them in the mix in the Pac-12. Arizona has +5000 odds to win it all this year, so the expectation can’t be a title.
Bringing in seniors doesn’t do much for the future, but it does establish the expectation. Transfers won’t be there when Arizona gets back to the top of the college basketball mountain, but they can be the foundation that gets the new coaching regime off on the right foot.
Arizona needs experienced players to step up and lead as the new program gets built, and that’s where Justin Kier comes in.
What Justin Kier Brings
Justin Kier is playing on his third team in six years. This may be seen as a red flag, but he is one of the most experienced players in college basketball. He’s started 119 games over his collegiate career, which is more games than most athletes even play in.
He’s also experienced multiple offensive systems. He was a key contributor to the offense with George Mason, but he became more of a perimeter shooter for Georgia. He can work in multiple schemes, and that will help with a new head coach in charge.
Kier is at his best when he is asked to score inside. He’s capable of shooting from deep, but that’s not his strong suit. If he can be asked to defend, rebound and distribute, he’ll be a quality piece of Arizona’s new lineup. If not, you will be forcing a square peg into a round hole.
What Impact Can He Have?
Justin Kier’s experience will help Arizona through the tough conference schedule. According to top sportsbooks, he has more experience and leadership, and he can be turned to when things get rough in Tucson.
He’s undersized, but he can still impact the game inside. He’s good at driving to the basket and getting a bucket.
At the end of the day, Kier has a low ceiling. There’s a reason why he’s coming back for his sixth season of college basketball. Still, you know what you’re getting with him. He’s a dependable option with plenty of starting experience on a team that needs a new identity. He may not lead Arizona to a national championship, but he can be a good player on an NCAA Tournament team. That’s all you can ask for from a sixth-year senior on his third team.