Allonzo Trier‘s announcement Monday that he will be returning to play his sophomore season with the University of Arizona men’s basketball team could easily be the most significant event in a season that won’t start for another seven months.
With his decision to play another year of college ball instead of pursuing his chances in the next NBA draft, the athletic 6’6″ guard 1) gives the Wildcats a much better chance to become a top-5 program that will likely make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and 2) gives the Wildcats’ fans another opportunity to watch up-close a rising star on his way to becoming an elite college player and eventual high draft pick.
Zo, as mama Marcie calls him, averaged almost 15 points a game and hit 46 per cent of his shots in his freshman seaon. He made an impact this year, but he missed seven games with a broken hand and, like any freshman, spent the year adjusting to the college game.
That’s behind him now. Next year will be a different story.
He will be more comfortable next season and, because he has a work ethic like few others, he will improve in the off-season, likely working on improving his 3-point shooting and devoting some time to his defense. Head coach Sean Miller says he’s the hardest worker he’s ever been around and is always the first one in the gym for practice and the last one to leave.
Think about this: Long before he even reached the high school game, he developed a daily routine that required making 500 shots and 100 free throws in as little time as possible. As a result, he was considered by many to be the purest high school shooter in the country.
That helps explain why he had offers from just about every major college program in the country before he reached his senior year. The Seattle native was one of the most well-rounded athletes at the prep level. He can play the 2 or the 3 position on the floor, is accurate from well beyond the 3-point arc but also drives to the rim with authority, and is deadly from the free throw line.
He had eight games this season when he scored 20 or more points, and put up 27 points against Fresno State.
His 14-for-14 performance at the line in the second game of his college career ranks second all-time in the UofA program, and his 79.3 FT percentage for the year topped all Pac-12 freshmen.
Trier’s fame came early. He was in sixth grade when he reportedly appeared in a commercial with NBA great Carmello Anthony, graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine at 13, was playing on a high school varsity team when still in eighth grade, and was a legend of sorts on the AAU circuit.
He was raised by a single mom and was home-schooled for his first two years of high school, but managed to find home-school varsity teams to play with. By the time he completed his senior year at Findlay Prep, the basketball factory in Nevada, he had played for four different schools. He averaged 26.4 points a game his senior season and was on every recruiter’s wish list.
This kid is going to be fun to watch next year. And he’s going to make the Wildcats a hot ticket at McKale Center.
“I am ecstatic about Allonzo’s decision to return to school for his sophomore season,” said Miller in the announcement from the school. “I believe he will become one of college basketball’s elite players next season.”
And that should translate into the Cats continuing their run as one of the nation’s elite teams.
With Trier back, the team will have one of the best back courts in the country, as he teams with two other returning guards, Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and incoming 5-star guards Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins.
Trier says he’s returning to improve his game, and his chances at a high draft pick. If he had opted for the NBA draft this year, he was projected somewhere late in the first round, but more likely early second round.
But while he’s polishing his game, the Arizona Wildcats – and their fans – will be the real beneficiaries.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)