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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshmen will hold integral role in Wildcats’ 2015-2016 season

Tyler Baker

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (11) shoves his way around a Chico State defender in McKale Center on Nov. 8. Trier will compete for starting time in the early goings of the season, as he came off the bench in Arizona’s exhibition against Chico State.

Freshmen have been an integral part of every Sean Miller-coached team at Arizona, and this year will be no exception.

Whether it’s been a leading role like those of Stanley Johnson and Aaron Gordon, or a supporting cast like Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Gabe York and Elliot Pitts, Miller has never been afraid to stick freshmen in the spotlight.

This year’s trio of collegiate newcomers is more than capable of fitting Miller’s style.

“We have some young pieces that may have an impact on this team and we lost some players [from] last year,” freshman point guard Justin Simon said. “But we can bring something big to the Pac-12 [Conference] this year.”

Simon played sparingly in Arizona’s exhibition game, but his diverse game will definitely play a role down the line. Although Arizona lost many key players from last year’s team, Simon is confident the Wildcats have what it takes to get it done.

Five-star recruit Allonzo Trier headlines what is Arizona’s fourth straight top-six recruiting class.

The guard averaged 26 points per game at a clip of 54 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc during his senior season at Findlay Prep, so Trier will be able to step into a multifaceted role in Arizona’s offense.

Trier can spot up and spread out the offense, or he can drive to the basket and either convert at the rim or get to the foul line at a high rate. Miller has coached Trier the last two summers in the U10 FIBA World Basketball Championship, so Trier may have an experience advantage over the other freshmen.

Center Chance Comanche rounds out the troika of freshmen, and while he may only play sparingly due to the logjam that is Arizona’s frontcourt, Comanche has the potential to be an exciting and productive player down the road.

Aside from being a 20-point scorer in high school, Comanche also averaged 16 rebounds and four blocks his senior year. So while he may not need to score early on, his defensive production and rebounding agility will always be needed during his tenure in Tucson.

Standout forward Ray Smith was supposed to vie for time as a starter on the wing, but after a second ACL tear in two years, he will not suit up this season for Arizona. However, when he returns in 2016, he possesses a plethora of talents that will be more than useful to the team.

“[Smith] is one of the most talented young players that has ever entered our program,” Miller said in a press release.

If the Wildcats are to repeat as conference champions, the freshmen will need to contribute on a consistent basis. From Trier’s scoring to Simon’s versatility to Comanche’s frontcourt presence, their games will have to complement the veterans’ if Arizona wants to remain the top cat in the Pac.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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