TUCSON, ARIZ. Dennis Latimore is discovering it's a big jump from Kansas Class 3A basketball to the Pacific-10 Conference.
"Some of the dunks he used to make are now shot blocks," Arizona coach Lute Olson said of the reality facing first-year UA forward Latimore, a 6-foot-8, 254-pounder out of Halstead High.
The first-team all-state pick has found the going tough in his first three games as a collegian. Latimore is 0-for-5 shooting with two rebounds while logging 19 minutes total in victories over Maryland, Florida and Texas.
His first bucket in an Arizona jersey could come as early as today when the Wildcats play host to Kansas.
Tipoff for the Kansas-UA battle is 1:30 p.m., Lawrence time, at sold-out McKale Center.
"You have to remember he's played in a small-school environment," Olson said, not worried a bit about Latimore, who averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds a game his senior year in high school.
"I'm sure it's been frustrating to him, but he hasn't shown that at our practices. He has a great attitude. He's going to be a really good one. He is a horse a rock who runs the floor well."
Latimore he chose Arizona over Kansas, UCLA and Stanford in recruiting arrived on campus as the most publicized of UA's five recruits.
So far, 5-foot-10 point guard Will Bynum and 6-9, 265-pound forward Isaiah Fox have moved to the head of the class, however, averaging 7.3 and 6.0 points respectively.
Channing Frye, a 6-10 freshman from Phoenix, has averaged 5.3 points per outing, yet erupted for 21 points in Monday's exhibition victory over Nike Elite.
"Dennis has made great progress the last couple of weeks," Olson said. "My experience is once you start seeing that improvement in practice situations, it's not going to be long before you see it in game situations. As the next few weeks unfold, he's going to make his presence felt."
What's been the problem besides the shock to the system of major college basketball?
"I think Dennis needs to be more aggressive in going after everything," said Olson. "I think he will eventually be a swing forward. Right now we are trying to limit him to one position (power forward) because there is so much to learn."
Banging inside has been an adjustment.
"In high school I was used to kind of drifting outside and taking bigger players off the dribble," Latimore said.
"Here it's been just battling in the post. It's been an adjustment. But I feel each day in practice I'm getting better and better."
He's trying to get used to coming off the bench. In high school he started and finished each game.
"It's something I'm not used to," he said. "But I'm real happy with the three wins we've got and that's all I care about. I know my time is going to come."
Latimore never made an official visit to Kansas his senior year despite the fact his brother, Denver, is a KU football player.
Latimore was enamored with returning to Arizona, where he lived with his dad and played high school ball in Mesa his sophomore year of high school.
"The climate doesn't hurt," Latimore said of sunny Arizona.