Arizona basketball’s best player isn’t playing, and coach Sean Miller won’t say why

  • pe-sports
  • November 11, 2016
  • Comments Off on Arizona basketball’s best player isn’t playing, and coach Sean Miller won’t say why
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Arizona enters the college basketball season ranked 10th in the AP Top 25. But the Wildcats have a thin roster, and it might get even thinner shortly. The Wildcats lost three senior starters from last year’s team, and no one seems to know what’s going on with maybe the best player left.

Sophomore wing Allonzo Trier, a former five-star recruit who averaged 15 points and three rebounds as a freshman, hasn’t played in the preseason. Coach Sean Miller has held him out of scrimmages even as he’s sat on the bench. Miller’s offered almost no update on his status, and Arizona pulled him out of the Pac-12’s media day.

The Wildcats flew to Hawaii on Tuesday for a game there Friday night against Michigan State, and they didn’t bring Trier with them. They’re going to begin their season without their only returning double-figure scorer, and there’s no obvious resolution in sight. It’s a weird story, and it’s hard to imagine it’s a happy one.

No one knows exactly what’s going on with Trier

To this point, there’s a lot of smoke and no fire with the Trier situation. Miller has been asked repeatedly about why Trier is being held out and he refuses to answer.

That means it could be a student-confidentiality issue or simply something the team just wants to keep internal.

There are plenty of rumors flying around about what the exact issue could be. None of it has been confirmed by the program and it’s unfair to speculate on it because of student-privacy laws. Trier could be back next week or he might not play this season. As long as Miller continues to deny status updates, everyone is left in the dark.

Arizona is running out of basketball players.

Whatever Trier’s status winds up being, UA isn’t exactly overflowing with bodies right now. Sophomore center Chance Comanche had been suspended for an academic issue, but it seems like he’ll be back for the Michigan State opener.

That’s great, but Comanche only brings Arizona to eight scholarship players on the trip. Forward Ray Smith recently retired after a heartbreaking third ACL tear in three years, and the Wildcats only added three scholarship freshmen to their roster. All three of them are five-star recruits, and it’s not like the Cats are hurting for talent.

But numbers are numbers. Arizona played with seven men in an exhibition against Division II Chico State on Sunday, and offensive rebounds were 7-7. Chico State got two more boards overall, while Arizona’s seven players each played at least 22 minutes.

It’s not ideal to go into a Pac-12 season with fewer than nine or 10 scholarship rotation pieces. That’s the reality staring down Miller now, whether Trier is present or not.

If Trier doesn’t wind up playing, it’s a big blow for the Wildcats.

And that’d be true even if Arizona had 12 rotation players. Trier should be the best player on the team, and missing him for any extended stretch would sting.

Trier is a brilliant player. He’s already one of the most athletic scorers in the country, and he’s still got room to grow in a few ways. Trier was only a 36 percent three-point shooter and averaged one assist per game last year, but as he gets sharper and pairs with some talented new backcourt-mates, those numbers should get better.

Not having that around leaves a hole. True freshman guards Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons are supremely skilled, but they’re also true freshmen. Trier’s supposed to be UA’s leading man, but right now, he’s not. It’s a problem.