Friday, August 19, 2022

Five-Star PG Kylan Boswell reclassifies: Arizona commit to join team in 2022, enriching title-caliber roster

Arizona’s offseason roster transformation took another turn on Wednesday with a surprising twist. Longtime commit Kylan Boswell, a five-star and the No. 3 point guard in the 2023 class, according to 247Sports, announced on social media that he is bumping up his arrival date and will play with the Wildcats next season — not two seasons from now. 

Boswell only recently turned 17 years old, which will make him one of youngest players (if not the youngest) in college hoops last season. But the young age should not distract you from his advanced game. He’s a dynamic defensive prospect and a true point guard who has the talent and IQ to contribute next season, even on an Arizona team with top-10 credentials.

So how does he fit into Arizona’s plans next season? How will the lineup and rotations shake out with six newbies on the 2022 roster as it looks to replace a ton of NBA talent? And where does that leave Arizona in the hierarchy both in the Pac-12 and nationally? Let’s break it all down.

Arizona’s title chances

Despite losing a lottery pick talent in Bennedict Mathurin, a first-round draft pick in Dalen Terry and a second-round draft pick in Christian Koloko – my, the talent! – Arizona still boasts the seventh-best odds of winning the national championship in 2022-23, according to Caesars Sportsbook. The Wildcats are 18-1 to take it all home – trailing only North Carolina (9-1), Kentucky (10-1), Gonzaga (10-1), Houston (12-1), UCLA (14-1) and Duke (15-1). Kansas, like Arizona, has 18-1 odds. 

Each of those teams ahead of Arizona have more certainty than Zona – UNC has Armando Bacot and Caleb Love; Kentucky has Oscar Tshiebwe; Gonzaga has Drew Timme; Houston has Kelvin Sampson and a roster of warriors (Marcus Sasser among them); UCLA has five-star freshman Amari Bailey; Duke has the No. 1 incoming recruiting class – but the Wildcats have no questions about talent even if they lost three major talents to the draft. In fact, the point guard position was really the only potential question mark on the roster. With returning breakout candidate Kerr Krissa and Boswell both in tow, backcourt depth is a clear strength. There are going to be questions about how they eventually mesh, but Krissa, Boswell and Azuolas Tubelis make up a pretty killer trio to build around next season. 

For those reasons, it should come as no surprise that Arizona has a slight edge in the betting markets as the favorite to win the Pac-12 next season with the addition of Boswell. Its 2-1 odds are just slightly better than UCLA’s 5-2 odds and Oregon’s 9-2 odds. USC is 13-2 and Colorado is 14-1. 

Assessing the roster impact

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of talented players reclassify, but they weren’t ready – either physically or mentally – to be an impact player upon enrolling. Among those who fit in that category are former five-stars Devin Askew at Kentucky and Khristian Lander at Indiana.

Boswell, however, appears ready to be an early contributor, with both the talent and opportunity at his disposal.

“Kylan Boswell is college-ready from a physical standpoint, from a skill standpoint, and from an intelligence standpoint,” said 247Sports Director of Scouting Adam Finkelstein on Wednesday. 

So what type of talent is he, exactly? He’s a true point – someone who can lock down on the perimeter defensively and get others involved on offense. Can attack the rim and score it himself, but has the smarts to distribute at a high level, as well. 

“[He] is a competitive and winning point guard with a strong and sturdy frame who sets the tone on the defensive end,” 247Sports analyst Brandon Jenkins wrote of Boswell after scouting him earlier this year. “One of the best on-ball defenders in his class, Boswell is aggressive in getting into opposing ball handlers and guarding with physicality. He has the length to make life hard on whoever he is facing and is one who wins most one-on-one battles when guarding in transition … Boswell plays with pace and is fundamentally sound off the bounce. He has the vision to make the right pass and can be dependable shooting the ball from deep when in rhythm although his shot could use more consistency.”

The great thing – both for Boswell and for Arizona – is that he won’t be thrust into a starting role right away. Krissa’s return gives the Wildcats a solid starter at the spot, which will give Boswell ample time to grow and learn behind a burgeoning star. Even better for Arizona is that when Krissa is off the floor, the drop-off to Boswell from a talent standpoint will be non-existent; Arizona essentially has two starting-caliber point guards. 

It’s reasonable to consider UCLA, Oregon and Arizona to be pretty similarly in terms of roster talent within the Pac-12 before this news, but I’d give Arizona the edge right now in lockstep with Vegas odds. Its depth chart will probably look something like:

PG: Kerr Krissa/Kylan Boswell

SG: Courtney Ramey/Adama Bal

SF: Pelle Larson/Cedric Henderson

PF: Azuolas Tubelis/Henri Veesar

C: Oumar Ballo/Dylan Anderson

Krissa-Ramey-Larson-Tubelis-Ballo is a starting five that can win the Pac-12, but Boswell-Ball-Henderson-Veesar-Anderson is a potential bench unit that, if the pieces fit just right, can push the ‘Cats into contender status next season.

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