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ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, OCT. 27-28 - FILE - In this March 21, 1988, file photo, Arizona's Sean Elliott (32) drives on Seton Hall's Martin Salley during their second-round NCAA college basketball West Regional tournament game in Los Angeles. Arizona's 1987-88 Final Four team is perhaps the most popular team in Tucson history, but the players' success was only beginning and would go on to feature nine NBA championship rings, six Major League Baseball All-Star appearances and four Gold Gloves, six Emmy Awards and a Naismith Hall of Fame inductee. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
From The Courts

Breaking down ‘NBA 2K17’s’ all-time Arizona team

AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

The good people at 2K Sports pulled out all the stops for this year’s NBA 2K17 release. They tweaked the graphics and mechanics to make gameplay smoother and more lifelike. They revamped a number of modes, from the meticulous MyGM to the insanely addictive MyTeam. After last season’s story venture with Spike Lee drew mixed reviews, they brought in actor Michael B. Jordan to play the role of your sidekick for MyCareer.

The end result is a gaming experience that UPROXX called “the best basketball video game ever”.

Apparently, 2K wasn’t done giving the people what they want.

For just $14.99, fans can download a 10-pack of all-time college teams. The schools include Georgetown, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Kansas, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, UConn, Louisville and Illinois. If you want to go the a la carte route, each team is available individually for $1.99. Unfortunately, you can only use these legendary rosters in Quick Game mode.

The gaming world hasn’t had a college basketball game of its own since EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball 10 dropped in 2009, which makes this new content a welcomed addition for fans going through withdrawal.

However, while the all-time teams are a decent mix of players from the past and present, each squad has its fair share of glaring omissions. In fairness, you can’t just throw someone’s likeness on a video game without their permission, so these snubs are probably more of a business issue than an intentional oversight.

Still, in the interest of having some fun, let’s take a look at Arizona’s all-time team and how the roster could be improved:

arizona-2k

via Operation Sports

For the most part, the folks at 2K Sports got this one right. Sean Elliot, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Damon Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala and Steve Kerr were no-brainers. Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye deserve to be there, too.  The roster is very guard-heavy, but that’s because most of the Wildcats’ best impact players played in the backcourt. That’s why, for size purposes, I’m fine with guys like Derrick Williams, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger making the cut.

My biggest gripe is the lack of history on the roster. Arizona basketball has been around for 109 years. Of the 13 players on the team, only five (Bibby, Stoudamire, Elliot, Terry and Kerr) played on the Wildcats before the new millennium. If you’re going to apply the “all-time” tag to a school with a history that spans over a century, why not opt for more players who resonate with longtime fans?

Aaron Gordon played one season in Tuscon. He averaged 12.4 points and eight boards in 31.2 minutes per game. Modest numbers, sure. All-time great numbers? Not at all.

Notable Snubs

Miles Simon (1994-1998)Miles Simon was the 1996-97 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Along with Bibby, he played a huge role in Arizona winning it all in 1997, which remains the only national title in the school’s history. He was a consensus All-American the following year and averaged at least 17.2 points per game in each of his last two seasons.

Yet, he’s nowhere to be found on this roster.

At 6-foot-3, he would be tied with Kerr as the tallest guard on the team and would likely be the only true shooting guard on the club (depending on how you feel about Jason Terry). Simon didn’t have much of a pro career, so his name wouldn’t ring a bell with many fans outside of Arizona. Still, out of nostalgia and respect, the Bibby-Simon tandem needs to be reunited on this squad.

Gilbert Arenas (1999-2001):  Much like his time in the NBA, Gilbert Arenas established himself as an explosive combo guard who could light up a scoreboard at will. He averaged 15.8 points per game during his two-year run with the Wildcats and helped the team reach the NCAA Finals in 2000-01.

If lack of name recognition was the main reason to keep Simon off the list, that issue doesn’t apply to “Agent Zero.” Arenas was a three-time All-Star and one of the game’s most dynamic scorers from 2002-2010 before injuries and off-the-court troubles cut short his career.

This roster is already pretty deep at the guard position, but having one-and-done scorer Jerryd Bayless in over Arenas is a big mistake.

Jason Gardner (1999-2003)In his four years at Arizona, Jason Gardner won USBWA Freshman of the Year, was a consensus Second-Team All-American as a senior and took home the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award that same season. Along with Arenas, Jefferson and Luke Walton, he helped Arizona make a lengthy tournament run, where they were beat by a loaded Duke team.

Gardner’s lack of ideal size (5-foot-10, 178 pounds) caused him to go overlooked in the draft, and he never played a second in the NBA. He spent a few years playing ball in Europe, but never made much of an impact. Given his lack of a pro career and the number of guards already on the team, Gardner’s omission is understandable.

Still, Gardner managed to stand out on a Wildcats team that produced four solid pros. He was a good all-around point guard, and if he was good enough to have his jersey retired by U of A in 2005, he’s good enough to be considered for the all-time team.

Khalid Reeves (1990-1994)In truth, Khalid Reeves had one notable season during his four years at Arizona, but what a season it was. Reeves earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors as a senior in 1993-94. He dropped 24.2 points per game, which remains the best single-season scoring average in school history. His 848 points were fourth-most in the nation, barely trailing standouts like future No. 1 overall pick Glenn Robinson and NBA journeyman Donyell Marshall.

It’s hard to justify putting him ahead of guys like Bibby, Stoudamire, Kerr and Terry. However, if Gordon and Bayless made the cut because of one productive season, Reeves’ epic senior year should take priority over them.

Bob Elliott (1973-1977)For a school that had very few notable big men come through its halls, Bob Elliott’s omission from the all-time team is a head-scratcher. Elliott was a monster down low during his time at Arizona, averaging a double-double in two of his four seasons in Tuscon.

His 2,125 career points ranked first in school history for over a decade before Sean Elliot (no relation) took the top spot (2,555). He’s also second all-time in career rebounds (1,083) for the Wildcats. His low-post prowess didn’t translate to the pros, but that shouldn’t negate the fact he was one of the greatest players to ever wear an Arizona uniform.

Michael Dickerson (1994-98)Like Miles Simon, Michael Dickerson was a key member of the 1997 Arizona championship team. He was a versatile 6-foot-5 wing who could play multiple positions and shoot the lights out from behind the arc. He averaged at least 18 points per game in his final two collegiate seasons, and capped off his senior campaign by draining 40.4 percent of his three-point attempts.

Dickerson finished his tenure as Arizona’s eighth-highest scorer with 1,791 points. He only played five seasons in the NBA due to injuries, but gave the basketball world a glimpse of his potential by averaging 18.2 points and shooting 40.9 percent from three in 1999-2000.

There are a few reasons Dickerson should’ve made the cut. First, the ’97 title team was the most successful group in Arizona’s history, and having the core of that team together again would be a stroll down memory lane for Wildcats fans. Second, in a league that has become obsessed with outside shooting, Dickerson’s marksmanship from downtown fills a premium need. Lastly, with five guards 6-foot-3 or shorter, Dickerson’s size would be a welcomed addition.

Final Roster

  • Mike Bibby
  • Damon Stoudamire
  • Sean Elliot
  • Derrick Williams
  • Channing Frye
  • Steve Kerr
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Jason Terry
  • Aaron Gordon Bob Elliott
  • Richard Jefferson
  • Chase Budinger
  • Jerryd Bayless  Miles Simon
  • Jordan Hill
  • Gilbert Arenas
  • Michael Dickerson

The most notable change made was expanding the roster from 13 players to 15. Obviously, only 12 players can be active for the game, but this would give fans plenty of options to go with. Do you recreate the 1997 squad with Bibby, Simon and Dickerson? Do you prefer mixing old school with new school by putting Arenas and Kerr together? How about a small-ball lineup with Bibby, Stoudamire, Arenas, Iguodala and Frye?

Elliott’s prolific collegiate career and the need for a low-post banger made him an easy substitution for the high-flying Gordon. Bayless was another simple subtraction, especially with so many better guard alternatives available. In the end, this is a complete roster that should please both current fans and longtime Arizona alumni.

Breaking down ‘NBA 2K17’s’ all-time Arizona team

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