The Arizona Wildcats have advanced to the Elite Eight in three of the last five seasons as they’ve captured back-to-back Pac-12 titles. That includes only nine losses overall and five conference losses. Arizona ranks No. 13 in Today’s U Preseason Top-25 Rankings.
Alongside 5-star forward Ray Smith and 5-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier, the Wildcats added the fourth-best recruiting class this year. That is huge considering Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are in the NBA and guard T.J. McConnell is gone.
Seniors, guard Gabe York and center Kaleb Tarczewski will be the leaders on a young Arizona team that will be under head coach Sean Miller’s command for the seventh year. Smith should be a huge presence for the Wildcats while the 6’6′” Trier is going to be one of the most dangerous raw scorers in the NCAA this year.
He averaged 26.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game as a senior at Seattle’s Findlay Prep. Trier was ranked as the No. 18 overall recruit, No. 4 shooting guard and No. 1 player from Washington in the 2015 recruiting class by ESPN while 247Sports had him down as the No. 1 shooting guard overall.
Trier played for Miller at the UA-level where he played a key role in guiding Team USA to the gold medal in the 2015 FIBA U-19 World Championships in a win over Croatia. The McDonald’s All-American is the 21st to freshman to join Arizona’s program all-time. He was also named co-MVP of the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic after he dropped 28 points.
He joined the list of 20 other shooting guards for the Jerry West Award. Among the big names on the list are Grayson Allen (Duke), Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Malik Newman (Mississippi State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) and Danuel House (Texas A&M).
Even though Trier likely won’t open the season as the starting shooting guard with York taking the role it will only be a matter of time before he’s on the court more often than not.
Sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright should man the point guard spot while small forward Mark Tollefson and power forward Ryan Anderson will be the likely starters. Other freshmen that should help round out the depth are center Chance Comanche and guard Justin Simon.
Despite the fact that Arizona lost four starters from a year ago they have a slew of very experienced senior players that will be key leaders this season. The freshmen class will be important off the bench and in roles down the stretch as Miler looks to build the chemistry even passed this season.
Trier is going to make a huge impact in Year 1 despite the fact that he played for four different head coaches at four different high schools at the prep level.
“It’s what comes with the territory of what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish,” Trier told MaxPreps.com. “Some people will criticize you for all kinds of things just for going to four different high schools,” Trier said. “It’s all about doing what’s best for you.”
For anyone that watches Pac-12 basketball often this Arizona group is going to look very different than just a season ago. However, Miller has one of the best groups around right now and there’s no reason they shouldn’t capture a third straight conference title.
Expect Trier and the Wildcat freshmen class to be the biggest reason why they reach their goals and possibly beyond that this year.