Things just got very real in Tucson.
Early afternoon on Thursday, April 13, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman broke the news that Arizona’s Allonzo Trier would be returning to Tucson for his junior season. Never a guaranteed NBA draft pick, most thought he would at least declare for the draft without an agent before going back to school, but the guard told ESPN that he would return without testing the waters.
Arizona's Allonzo Trier told ESPN he will return to school next season. Will be Preseason National Player of… https://t.co/YNEK98di1e
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 13, 2017
This is huge for Arizona, obviously. The Wildcats were considered a preseason top-15 team as things stood before Trier announced his decision, but now, Sean Miller’s squad is certainly a top-5 lock. Trier is a dynamic scorer and will be one of the best players in the country.
The 6-5 guard from Seattle averaged 17.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 2.7 apg as a sophomore. Trier shot a robust 39.1% from the three-point line, and 46% from the field as a whole. He missed the first 19 games of the season after being suspended indefinitely after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Arizona went 15-3 with Trier in the lineup, including a Pac-12 tournament championship, but missed out on getting Miller to his first Final Four, falling to 11-seed Xavier in the Sweet 16.
So what does this mean for Arizona?
This rotation should be pretty stacked next year. We can all agree on that. They have a pretty rare balance of veteran experience and elite incoming talent. The Wildcats will have two excellent seniors in guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and forward Dusan Ristic. Trier may or may not have another junior in the rotation in Chance Comanche, depending on if he remains in the draft pool. Another Wildcat whose status is in limbo because of the draft is sophomore-to-be Rawle Alkins.
Joining those guys in Tucson next year are the members of the third overall recruiting class according to 247Sports. The big name there is forward DeAndre Ayton, second highest rated prospect. He’ll replace NBA-bound Lauri Markkanen alongside Ristic in the frontcourt and will likely be one of the top freshmen in the nation. Rounding out the recruiting class are guards Brandon Randolph and Alex Barcello, the 34th and 76th-ranked recruits, and center Ira Lee, ranked 57th.
Miller is not quite done yet, however. Power forward and San Diego native Brandon McCoy, the 10th-ranked prospect, has yet to commit and has Arizona in the mix, as does 15th-ranked Brian Bowen, a small forward from Saginaw, MI. Nabbing both of these guys would seem unlikely, but either would make Arizona a favorite for the national title.
It gets said every season, but this might be the year for Sean Miller. It’s rare we see this complete a team with the added benefit of being led by someone like Trier. They’ve got all the right pieces, and I’m a big puzzle guy. If we fast forward seven months from now, I will most likely be picking Arizona as my preseason title favorites.
Photo via Arizona Daily Star