ARIZONA 10:1 28:1 (when posted)
What the fuck is going on with Allonzo Trier? The top 15 nationally ranked recruit was looking to take THE LEAP after a fabulous freshman year (averaged 14.8 ppg) yet he’s been relegated to the sidelines as a cheerleader this season. The reason? It’s been confirmed that it’s not injury related, and just yesterday coach Sean Miller called it a unique “once in a lifetime situation”. What does that even mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
What is clear, however, is that the Wildcats’ anxious star is the key to a potential championship run. Not Pac12, I’m talking National title. The pieces surrounding this team are THAT good, but only Trier will push them over the mountaintop.
Without Trier, the Finnish PorzinGod Lauri Markkanen is leading Bear Down nation hitting 3’s at a 46.5% clip on almost 5 attempts a game. He’s 7’0 tall. Yikes!
With the combination of his scoring prowess at 16.7 ppg and ability to pull down boards at 7.4 reb, the freshman’s only weakness is his interior defense (0.5 blocks per game). That’s where Serbian junior Dusan Ristic comes in as Markkanen’s 7’0 counterpart with a thicker build and an ability to protect the paint. When’s the last time a contender had two 7 footers as their top two scorers? I certainly can’t remember, this team is as unique as they come.
Top 25 recruits Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons ignite the freshman led backcourt, with their 6’5 size enabling them to play with a toughness beyond their years. The Brooklyn tough Alkins is especially impressive and refuses to back down from anyone.
Also leading the backcourt is oft-injured junior Parker Jackson-Cartwright who provides leadership as well as the penetrate and dish game (5.6 assists per game) that sparks the momentum of the offense and really gets the rock moving. [Highly recommend the Netflix documentary “At All Costs” which features Jackson-Cartwright as a high schooler trying to climb the recruiting rankings and the sacrifices he had to make]. Do-it-all senior Kadeem Allen leads a solid bench unit and gives the squad some much needed senior leadership which will be invaluable come March.
The pieces are there. Markkanen’s 12th ranked offensive player rating (via Kenpom) generates the star power, as he’s aligned with a couple of really talented freshman with room to grow as the season progresses. But the Cats season lies in whatever is obstructing Trier from stepping on the floor. If he makes it back before March it’ll give the team some much needed time to mesh and gel before the postseason and this team can become a scary juggernaut. If they’re left without their superstar Soph though, Sean Miller will yet again fall short of that elusive Final 4 dream and a possible title shot.
VERDICT: Worth the long shot (40 units)