Ayton, Alkins, Trier play their last game at McKale
Usually senior day is reserved for just that, seniors. Arizona head coach Sean Miller had something else on his mind when he decided to take the mic on Saturday evening to speak to the McKale Center crowd. He announced Deandre Ayton, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier and in doing so, let the crowd know that it would be the last time they'd ever play on Lute and Bobbi Olson Court again.
"Yeah, they're not coming back," Miller said. "What it used to be sometimes isn't today, you have to adjust with the times. Those guys deserved an ovation just like the seniors because they're not going to play in McKale again."
It caught the crowd off guard and it seemingly caught the three players off guard. In today's age of college basketball, even more so because of the climate, knowing that player's are leaving isn't at all unusual. What is, is a declaration that they won't be back, from the coach, not the player himself.
Often times what will happen is a traditional dance between media and player after the completion of their season. The usual reply is something to the effect of, "I'm going to sit down with my family and weigh all of my options." It's as useless a company slogan if there ever was one.
Last year Lauri Markkanen used it despite being a projected top 10 NBA draft pick. This year's consenus top 5 pick Deandre Ayton made no such claim. From day one Ayton has made it known the NBA was coming his way at the conclusion of the Wildcats 2017-18 season. The only purpose for coming to Arizona for him was the opportunity to take Arizona to a Final Four and possible National Championship.
Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier both flirted with the NBA following their freshman years, but after receiving feedback that had them either projected as a late second rounder or not at all, they decided to come back for their sophomore years. Each one of them has dealt with set backs, but both were expected to leave, especially on the heels of the current FBI investigation.
NBAdraft.net has Ayton going No. 1 overall, Trier No. 44 and Alkins No. 50. A huge month of March could change those projections as well as their status within the halls of Arizona. Flame out in the first round of conference or NCAA tournament play, and well, interesting things start to happen.
Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter