Dalen Terry is Primed to Come Into his Own as a Sophomore

Max Feldman

A former top 50 recruit in the class of 2020, Dalen Terry might not be the first 2022 NBA prospect that comes to mind with the Arizona Wildcats roster, but a true candidate to burst on to the scene in my eyes.

Terry arrived in Tucson with some lofty expectations but over time was etched into an unfamiliar role under Sean Miller. 

“I played off the ball a lot during my Freshman year. It was definitely new considering I’ve played on the ball for the vast majority before college.”

The transition in a new role had its turbulence, as Terry winded up having the lowest usage rate of any Wildcat who played at least 100 minutes all season. Yet, the 19 year old was able to display facets of his game that previously weren’t advertised as long-term tools. 

The former Hillcrest Prep guard said, “There were absolutely ups and downs throughout the season but I expanded my game. I had to be more creative getting to my spots and add weight to play through the heightened physicality.”

Playing in a relatively foreign role, Dalen Terry provided glimpses of defensive upside that likely wind up as a massive beneficiary in his NBA stock. Now 6-8 and nearly 200 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, Terry showed the lateral quickness to guard multiple positions and be extremely disruptive in passing lanes. Testing out to the 72nd percentile in overall defense, Terry netted a team-high in defensive plus/minus and was one of just two Wildcats to allow 0.77 points per possession or less on the season.

“I want to show NBA executives I can play on any spot on the court. I can guard anybody they put in front of me with my versatility.”

With Tommy Loyd now at the helm and a notable exodus, now just two of the top eight highest usage players remain in Wildcat uniforms. Dalen Terry has the opportunity to shift into a larger, more primary role as an initiator after engineering a lowly total of just 9 pick and roll ball handling possessions a year ago. 

Without even discussing a likely improved scheme with a higher tempo, emphasis on spacing as well as movement with Gonzaga feel offensively, the Wildcats add two strong perimeter weapons in Pelle Larson (Utah transfer) and Shane Nowell (four-star recruit) in addition to an intimidating interior presence in Oumar Ballo (Gonzaga transfer) to the frontcourt. An additional year under the belt and a strong off-season campaign on the FIBA scene, Bennedict Mathurin (Canada) and Azuolas Tubelis (Lithuania) return as the presumed centerpieces of a new look Wildcat program. 

Shifting into what Dalen Terry may illustrate this season is where the excitement stems from. With a stronger frame and a year of development, Terry ideally has the opportunity to carry a greater load and exhibit the most enticing aspect of his pre-college skillset. A gifted, versatile playmaker off the dribble, Terry repeatedly impressed with the Compton Magic as well as at Pangos with his ability to put on-ball defenders in jail in the pick and roll, slither to the rim and finish with length as well as advanced floor mapping instincts as a decision maker. 

“Without a doubt, the most undervalued facet of my skillset is my vision, my feel and my finishing ability. I wasn’t able to display it enough this past year so some may have forgot what I’m capable of.”

Overall shooting trends and output as well as playing with pace as a ball handler are perhaps my two largest swing traits in evaluating Terry this season. Development or progression in either or both categories has potential to largely open up Terry’s skillset and drive the rising Sophomore onto the NBA Draft map. 

It has largely become a cliche in my opinion of evaluations relying on the idea of prospects thriving once play in an open, up-tempo style, simply because thats how most prospects desire to play. With that, inserting Loyd likely completely shifts the Wildcat’s look and improves Dalen Terry’s fit, considering how slow (198th adjusted tempo) and interior oriented (236th in 3PM and 304th in 3PA in the nation) the Wildcats played under Sean Miller in 2020-2021. Now surrounded by seasoned shooters in Kriisa, Mathurin and Larson as well as two sturdy frontcourt pieces in Tubelis and Ballo, Dalen Terry has the weapons to slot into a catalystic role under Tommy Loyd.  

In final, Terry said, “We’re going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

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