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Arizona basketball: Allonzo Trier will be key for revamped Wildcats in 2016-17

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Courtney Talak

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (11) shoots a 3-pointer during Arizona’s 99-61 victory over Arizona State on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Trier averaged 14.8 points per game as a freshman and will look to improve that mark as a sophomore.

Normally at the end of a season, UA head coach Sean Miller prepares to hear a few of his former players names to be called on NBA Draft night, but this year has a different vibe heading into summer.

There is a strong possibility that Miller won’t have one of his former player selected in this year’s NBA Draft, making it the first time since 2012 of not having a player drafted. But that’s the least of his concerns right now. An incoming top-3 recruiting class has generated plenty of buzz in Tucson heading into the upcoming season, but another move, Allonzo Trier’s decision to return for his sophomore season, has created even more optimism.

Trier will be the most essential piece moving forward for Miller and the Wildcats. Trier was on the fence about testing the NBA Draft waters after his freshman season, but ultimately felt he wasn’t ready to make the jump to professional basketball, instead making a “mature decision” to stay, according to Miller.

“I have to credit Allonzo Trier and his family, they made a mature decision — a wise decision in my opinion,” Miller said. “A lot of guys like Allonzo who have his pedigree and track record tend to want to prove the world wrong.”

RELATED: Wildcat Spotlight: Five Arizona athletes to bring the attention to Tucson in the upcoming season

As Miller noted, Trier has all the credentials to prove that he’s capable of being drafted. He’s a former five-star recruit, a McDonald’s All-American, a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and he averaged 14.8 points per game as a freshman, showing that he can get to the rim and score at will.

But, while Trier may get to the basket with ease against college players, how would his game translate when matching up against NBA talent?

If his performance in the NCAA Tournament was any indication, it became clear that Trier wasn’t ready to make the jump just yet — he scored just 10 points and had four turnovers in the opening round loss .

“When you leave school, you want to make sure you have insurance — that you have either […] a college degree or the opportunity through the right knowledge and resources to be a first-round pick or a draft pick so you can have the longest career you can,” Miller said. “[Trier] wanted to be all-in if he came back, which I think says a lot about his maturity.”

Now that Trier is back in the fold, Miller has a proven scorer that will only continue to get better on his roster. Not to mention that Miller expects Trier to become a leader of what will be a very young team.

Trier will be staying in Tucson this summer, spending time at Richard Jefferson Gymnasium with his fellow returnees as well as the plethora of five-star recruits coming in. That type of camaraderie is a recipe for success, not just for the team but also Trier’s game as a whole.

“Allonzo is going to add to what he already does well and I think he’s going to be a much better passer, he has the chance to become a very good defensive player, leadership and all of the things you want to see in a returning player,” Miller said. “He’s going to embody those qualities.”

Talent alone doesn’t equate to success, leadership is equally important. If Trier can provide both it will create an even brighter outlook for a team that already has high expectations heading into the upcoming season.


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