Allonzo Trier UA future up in the air
A stone-faced Arizona guard Allonzo Trier watches from the sidelines as his teammates warm up for Arizona's exhibition match-up against the College of Idaho at McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.
In the current college basketball landscape, it’s uncommon for a team to have an NBA caliber talent return after their freshman season. In the era of the “one-and-done” athlete, a premium has been placed on continuity for college basketball coaches. Arizona head coach Sean Miller figured to be in quite the position heading in to this season with the return of sophomore Allonzo Trier.
However, Trier’s status for this season still remains unknown. Rumors have grown from hearsay, to local Tucson news, and has now become a national story. Similar to the Elliot Pitts situation from last season, the Arizona basketball program has refused to shed any light on the matter.
Dating back to the 2011-2012 season, the program is no stranger to troubled players. Star prospects Josiah Turner and Sidiki Johnson were both dismissed from the team for off the court issues.
Trier’s situation may not mirror that of Turner’s, who was dismissed among drug and alcohol problems, but it still casts a dark cloud over the Arizona program.
When Trier decided to come back for his sophomore season, it was for a multitude of different reasons. What stood out to Miller the most during Trier’s decision making process, maybe ironically now, was his maturity.
"I have to credit Allonzo Trier and his family, they made a very mature decision, a wise decision in my opinion,” said Miller.
Part of Trier’s decision making process was certainly influenced by an injury he suffered last season. Trier broke his hand during Arizona’s four overtime loss in Los Angeles against USC, and that memory hasn’t escaped the sophomore.
"The game we lost at USC, in four overtimes, when I broke my hand, that's probably the game that gives me the most motivation,” Trier told Arizona Athletics. “It's really stuck in my head."
Trier missed eight games overall, including seven in Pac-12 play. If Trier was healthy for those early conference matchups, Arizona’s season could have looked much different come March. If Trier had stayed healthy, however, they may have not had him this season. Some people around the program thought Trier would still head to the NBA.
“I was playing at a really high level before I broke my hand and it kind of set me back. To miss eight games is tough,” said Trier during Arizona media day. “Sure things could of been different if I didn't break my hand, you never know, but there's no crystal ball that tells you."
After Trier made his decision to come back, he never wavered. Trier has said that he is an “all-in” type of person and has fully committed to the Arizona program for his sophomore season.
The impact of losing Trier would cause a void in leadership for the Wildcats. If he does not play for Arizona at all this season, they lose more than just their best scoring threat. Allen and Trier were set to be this year’s leaders, but half of that equation may never materialize.
Trier averaged 14.8 points during his freshman season, and would be the Wildcat’s returning lead scorer. Trier boasted an efficient percentage from beyond the arc last season at 36.4 percent, and was a 46 percent shooter overall. He was the team’s on-court leader as the season wore on, and was Arizona’s go to scorer when healthy.
Trier is capable of creating his own shot, and can knock it down from anywhere on the court. His shot-making ability mixed with his sneaky athleticism, had Miller rather impressed with how Trier’s freshman season matched up with others he’s seen at Arizona.
"If he didn't miss the seven games that he missed in the Pac-12 I'm not so sure that, looking at his freshman year, that it wouldn't have gone down as one of the best statistical freshman years here at Arizona."
Trier is a finalist for the Jerry West award, but if he misses an extended period of time he won’t be appearing on any other lists.
If Trier’s issues do in fact lie with the NCAA, don’t expect a decision to come before the Michigan State game. Just last season, Kansas prospect Chieck Diallo did not receive a ruling on his eligibility until November 26, well in to the Jayhawks schedule. The case could be the same for Trier, but Diallo was eventually cleared to play. The jury is still out on whether or not Trier has played his last game as a Wildcat.
This year’s Arizona team is on a mission. With the Final Four being held in Glendale this year, it’s a mission that is not far out of sight, or out of mind.
"If I didn't want to win and come back to try to be a leader and bring this team to a Final Four, I wouldn't be here,” said Trier.
Arizona basketball’s path to Glendale may rest on the eligibility of Allonzo Trier.
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Video courtesy of Reborn HD via Youtube and Arizona Daily Star via Youtube.