After an amazing spring of rebuilding the roster, Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd can take one last breath | Arizona Wildcats Basketball

Glendale – In the first few weeks after last season, Arizona player Tommy Lloyd was the toast of the college basketball world.

After leading the Wildcats to a record 33-4, Pac-12 title and No. 1 NCAA jumpsuit, Lloyd picked several national titles of the year and made the rounds in the Final Four while, behind the scenes, his bosses worked by giving him a $1 million raise.

Life was good. Then Lloyd was reminded of what kind of world he was already in.

Lloyd knew he would lose the expected lottery selection of Benedict Mathurin in the NBA draft. Then Christian Colocco and Dallen Terry, two youngsters who were not expected to leave last season, took off.

Koloko did so definitively in mid-April, with his starting stock likely to peak after this year’s Pac-12 defensive season in 2021-22. Terry auditioned for enlistment with the option to go back to school, but ended up being a scout dazzling with exercises, measurements, and interviews so well that he stayed on enlisting.

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Suddenly Lloyd lost three rookies and only six came back.

He had to get back to work nonstop.

“I honestly thought at the end of the year, I’d catch my breath and realized I didn’t,” Lloyd said. “But when you have a great season and you have good players, those players get the chances. Maybe at the beginning of the year I wasn’t expecting how everything would be but with the success we had, things happened.”

Even after Terry announced that he would remain in the draft on May 31, the tough news continued to get the Wildcats in. Lloyd’s only remaining league player, Azulas Toplice, has pulled out of the Lithuanian national team with a wrist injury – although Lloyd noted that was not a concern for next season. One potential recruit, former Kentucky forward Keon Brooks, committed to work in Washington immediately after visiting Arizona.

But Lloyd managed to sign a potentially valuable rotation player with Estonian great Henri Vissar and set off as the Serbian long-range winger at Filip Borovikanen.

Then, earlier this month, Lloyd reached the finish line when he received commitments from transfer veterans Courtney Ramey (Texas) and Cedric Henderson (Campbell) to fill much-needed rotation positions. Ramy is a regular four-year-old and is expected to start ball and support Kerr Cresa in the guard position, while the 6-foot-6-inch Henderson is likely to play big minutes on the wing.

After obtaining these two, Lloyd was finally able to breathe. During a break in his assessment of the best high school players at the Division 7 event at State Farm Stadium, Lloyd detailed how it all went:

Were you worried before?a: “I never really worry about these things, because it will work. You just want to make sure the players make the decisions that are best for their career and the decisions they are comfortable with. From my experience with this, I always ended up well and our program ended just fine, so I expect the same.”

How exactly did it manage to get Ramy and Henderson?a: “What makes it difficult when you have a player as good as Dalen in making the decision, is that it is difficult to replace him when there is a possibility that he will come back. He kind of pushed everything back and Rami was a guy whose name was also in the draft. So we had to be patient. Really let it all happen.

“With Kourtney, first, I love him as a kid. I think he’s got a real fire in his stomach. I love his makeup and his personality. He’s really focused, and I think he’s hungry. And I think the things he’s looking for are the things we can offer — opportunity, evolution, play.” On a stage like Arizona. I expect him to come and make a huge impact.”

Looks like he could bring in a bit of defensive toughness as well?a: “Oh, sure. No doubt. He is a proven defender. He has played in a difficult conference and in a good program and has played an important role throughout his career. I think we are very lucky to have him.”

What do you think of Cedric?a: “That was one of those crazy ones. I think he’s late. He obviously has good genes. His dad was a great player in Memphis and in the NBA. But what really surprised me with Ced was how much he was involved. He has a great personality and he’s a very cute and happy kid. It really fits our culture.

And then, as we were getting really deep into it as a player, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is really good. He’s a winger of size. He has a sense of the game and a scoring mentality. He was a really good coach at Campbell. They played a system similar to Princeton’s so it’s a slower tempo, but he put in good, effective numbers in that system. And he’s really learned how to play with and without the ball. This bodes well for him to make a quick transition to our way of playing.

“I am excited about him because he gives us experience and talent. And frankly, I think he has taken another step or two in development that he can reach now in his final year of college.”

In terms of position, would you say it’s 3 or 3/4?a: “I’d say he’s a winger, but you know what? I was impressed that he’s comfortable making decisions with the ball in his hands. I think he’ll be able to play in a similar way to how (Billy) Larson or Dallen played with us last year. So I’m excited. I think he’ll really contribute. , really, and I think we’re kind of lucky that he fell into our lap.”

Will Courtney play the combo keeper?a: “Sure. At one point, the thing I looked at was we only had one person on our list who was under 6-6 years old – and it was Kerr (Chris). It’s great to have size and height, but it’s also great to have Keepers who can handle the pressure from the front. So I think it will really help us with the ball and the decision making, and I think he and Kerr will play really well together.”

Tommy Lloyd says he supports Dalen Terry’s decision to turn professional. “Dalen and I had a lot of conversations about what this was like and he was great about the whole process,” Lloyd said.

Mamta Bupat, Arizona Daily Star

What are your thoughts on the three men in the draft, especially with Dalen in the bubble? Was it difficult for you to see?a: “I’m excited for all the guys. It’s not hard because they go through a process and then end up making the decision that they feel most comfortable with. Dalen and I had a lot of conversations about what this looks like and he’s been great about the whole process. Christian was great. So I am Excited for them. We’ll do everything we can to help them. And I mean, listen—I’ll always be grateful for what they’ve done for me.”

So you hanging there?a: “Yes. I wish it was easier off season, but I think for every college coach it’s been a tough year. We just have to get through it and get back on the field. Training is what I like to do and we will see if we can improve.”

Call sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or On Twitter @brucepascoe