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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Allonzo Trier’s rise from rock bottom to Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player

Simon Asher

Arizona’s Allonzo Trier goes for a lay up during the Pac-12 Championship against Oregon on Saturday, March 11. Arizona beat Oregon 83-80, and Trier was awarded the Pac-12 Most Outstanding Player. 

LAS VEGAS—For the first half of the season, it was a continuous cycle of anticipating Allonzo Trier’s return to the lineup after being held out for unknown reasons.

Time after time, it was Trier disappointing, because he wore sweatpants and I had the occasional thought of “oh look, Zo got some new kicks”. Then just before the Wildcats took on UCLA on the road in January, Trier returned and he was egged on after missing 19 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in September.

The UCLA student section chanted “steeeeeeroids” and “he’s a cheater” and whenever the Wildcats went on the road, occasionally miscellaneous slander chants towards Trier could be heard. Here we are in March, the Wildcats are outright conference champions and Trier won the Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player award.

It’s impossible to write a story better than Trier overcoming the storm of adversity sent his way unless the ‘Cats win the national championship and Trier is named MOP. As the Wildcats were in a gut-wrenching second half battle with Oregon, who was it that stepped to hit two free throws to put it out of reach for the Ducks? It was Trier and his thinking at the free throw line when Arizona was up by two points with 17 seconds left were the hours logged in the gym.

“What was going through my mind was everyday I’m in the gym and work on my game and I have a tremendous amount of work ethic and preparation that goes into to being able to do what I do,” Trier said.

Head coach Sean Miller eluded Arizona’s success this season to the steep hill Trier had to climb and his preparation for every game although for 19 games, he wore sweatpants and Air Jordans.

“It was a very unique situation. I think a big reason our team was successful is he stayed very engaged during the absence of being able to play. He practiced hard every day as if he was getting ready for the next game,” Miller said. “It’s like a dream come true.”

Arizona’s season in general was unique, but through all of the challenges thrown at the program left and right, whether it was injuries or Trier’s unusual absence, he’s the center of it all.

Who was it that walked around UA campus in a hoodie so you couldn’t see his face, because he probably didn’t want to be seen and bombarded with questions? Trier.

Who was it that dealt with the hundreds of questions and speculation about why he was out and missed road trips? Trier.

Who guarded potential No. 1 draft pick Lonzo Ball three times, beat him twice and listened to UCLA students slandering him for medication that he took after a car accident? Trier.

Especially for the loaded talent that is the Pac-12 conference of champions as Bill Walton likes to call it, Trier was the one who stood out above the rest. He showed out better than the guy that is apparently better than Stephen Curry according to LaVar Ball and the regular season Most Valuable Player Dillon Brooks.

“He’s like a brother to me. I’m extremely proud of him—he works extremely hard,” said Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “I was telling somebody ‘I’ve never seen anyone work harder than that dude’ and he deserves everything that he’s given.”

I’ll admit that I had doubts about Trier coming back halfway through the season, because of how it would’ve affected the team only because of how many games Arizona played without him. Trier has averaged 16.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over 15 games and hit fifth gear at the right moment for the ‘Cats.

The more he continues to silence criticism, the more he’s earning an NBA paycheck.

“That’s a bad boy man. Allonzo is a bad boy,” Allen said. “He makes plays, he’s a great player and at the end of the day, he’s a pro—that’s what pros do and he came in clutch for us.”

It sounds farfetched that Trier could get drafted in a decent position in this summer’s NBA Draft, but remember when Sam Dekker shot his way into the first round in 2015 while he was at Wisconsin? A lot of Arizona fans do.

For the amount of grief, guilt and slight disappointment Trier provided at the start of the season, he led his team to cut down the nets as outright Pac-12 champions.

Trier’s story will go down as one of the best to ever walk through those doors at not just McKale Center and T-Mobile Arena, but potentially the grand prize—the Final Four at The University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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