Allonzo Trier is coming to a crossroads in his UA career, can he find another level and lead the Wildcats to where they haven't been for quite some time?
Allonzo Trier couldn't care less what you think. His personality won’t allow for other’s perceptions to interfere with his own process. He is building his brand, one that he hopes cements his legacy as one of the great guards at the University of Arizona — and also propels him to the NBA.
Those hopes have been tested the first two seasons of his career, and his return for a third was in large part due to not fulfilling goals that he hoped to achieve.
This is what has made Trier the most difficult Arizona athlete to properly place in perspective for a basketball town. If there was ever someone who defined A-type personality, Trier would be it. Some fan bases find that appealing, some scoff and ridicule — he is in the middle.
Trier teeters on the edge of becoming another men's basketball legend or just another guard, either a Damon Stoudamire or a Mustafa Shakur. You either love him or you’ll forget him. His DNA strives for the rafters in McKale, and anything less will be a failure.
To look at him on the surface, well, he is everything you think he’d be. Meticulous from what he wears to how he wears it, whether that is on or off the court.
Trier, an avid shoe collector, has probably worn more shoes in his time at Arizona than any other athlete. KDs, Lebrons, Kobes — it doesn’t matter, his shoe collection is a reflection of who he is: colorful, organized, different and unapologetic.
Since coming to Arizona two seasons ago, Trier has yet to make it to an Elite Eight, let alone a Final Four. He also hasn’t played a complete season from beginning to end. Two years ago, he sat out due to a broken bone in his hand, suffered during a matchup at USC. Last season, he sat out the first 19 games of the year due to a performance enhancing substance that had to be cleared out of his system. Once a lock to move up to the pro level, Trier re-evaluated and decided to come back for a variety of reasons.
“Ever since I came here I think I have been one of the best players in the country at doing more with less shots,”-Allonzo Trier
“I’m never going to complain that I’m getting to play basketball after having it taken away from me, so, listen: I love the game, so I won’t complain,” Trier said. “… I wanted to play a full season, I wanted to feel what it was like to be able to play from start to finish. Be successful, have success here, and hopefully leave a great legacy behind, with the way I play individually and what I was able to accomplish here with my teammates.”
One of the best scorers in the nation, Trier has taken his shooting up a notch every season. Each year has been better than the last from three, the field and at the free throw line for the Preseason All-American. He is the top shooter in Pac-12 play at 65 percent from the floor and, from an efficiency standpoint, amongst the best in the country.
“Ever since I came here I think I have been one of the best players in the country at doing more with less shots,” Trier said. “[I'm] Being efficient and doing it in a great way. So, I think I have lived up to that my whole career of playing here. I think I am just continuing to get better as a basketball player, continuing to learn, continuing to grow and the game is slowing down for me. Being able to make reads and make the game feel easier for me.”
As a standout in high school and McDonald’s All-American, Trier came in with the weight of great guards past firmly secured to his backside. The expectations coming into this season were far greater than any other year since his arrival, due to having future NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton in tow. Fair or not, anything short of San Antonio, the site of this year’s Final Four, will be considered an epic failure. Maturity and composure will be tested, which isn’t new to Trier.
“Just having a different seat on the bus, really being focused and locked in,” Trier said. “Understanding what it takes to win, how hard it is to win. The daily process of trying to be great … To play in a place that has such great traditions of great guards definitely makes you want to live up to that.”
Still, the goal in coming back for Trier was never about simply improving. One does not get recognized as one of the best by getting bounced in the first or second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. For that to be avoided this year, another level of play will have to be met. He knows it, and head coach Sean Miller knows it.
Miller, like Trier, is unapologetic when it comes to performance based off preparation. It is what he and his star guard have in common, and another reason why the two have been reunited for one more run.
“His love of the game is contagious,” Miller said. “You really have to have players in your program that love the game of basketball. There’s different levels of love. Everybody acts like they love the game; some love it more than others. Allonzo is in that category. It’s his work ethic, it’s his staying after practice, being the first to practice, coming early in the morning, late at night, his game day regimen, how hard he works in the offseason, living in the gym ... his ability to shoot the 3-point shot.”
Trier is a "Basketball Jones", that is for certain. His joy of the game is what elevates him above others. Being a student is what got him to this point.
“Iso-Zo” is his Twitter handle, and it's fitting. Many times this season it has been Trier who has needed to come up with a shot as the clock winds down, or has been expected to exploit a mismatch on the offensive side. His chosen sport is an introverts dream. Isolation with just a ball and a basket, no noise, no haters, no distractions. Just a move, a calculation, and a shot. Whether we are talking about his scoring or his attempt at Arizona immortality, it’s one in the same.
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