HONOLULU — Sophomore guard Allonzo Trier did not accompany the Arizona Wildcats to Hawaii on Tuesday, suggesting he probably won't play in the team's regular-season opener Friday against Michigan State.
Arizona has steadfastly refused to comment on Trier or characterize what might be the issue with his eligibility and would not say earlier this week if Trier would make the trip. But the team's American Airlines flight from Phoenix deplaned Tuesday at Honolulu International Airport, and Trier did not appear to be on it.
All of the Wildcats' other scholarship players exited the plane with two exceptions: Guard Dylan Smith is not allowed to travel as a redshirting transfer, and Ray Smith remained in Tucson as he awaits knee surgery.
Trier did not show as scheduled for the Pac-12 media day in San Francisco last month and did not play in either of UA's two exhibition games.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who is also an attorney, said a school's reluctance to comment in any form in a situation like Trier's is either an indication that the coach wants to keep it internal or a sign of a student-privacy issue.
"It's certainly not normal," Bilas said. "I can't think of a lot of other instances where you were not told anything when there's been a player who hasn't played. I'm not sure what his practice situation is either, but I know he didn't play in their exhibition game.
"There are a lot of rumors flying around."
UA went over two months last season without saying why forward Elliott Pitts did not suit up for games. Pitts was eventually suspended after a university finding of sexual misconduct and other infractions of student behavioral rules, and he has since transferred to a junior college.
Arizona will have only seven active scholarship players if Trier is out Friday, but Miller said on an ESPN podcast Monday that a "lot of things could clear up here over the next couple of weeks."
Center Chance Comanche will probably play Friday, Miller said, after he was suspended for academic reasons in UA's two exhibition games.
"We've certainly been hit here early on, but a lot of things could clear up here over the next couple of weeks," Miller said on the podcast. "Things are never as bad as they seem and certainly a month ago they probably weren't as good as they seemed. It's right in the middle and we have a long, long way to go."
Signing period begins
Arizona will start formally reeling in its top-rated 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday, with forward Ira Lee of Los Angeles, guard Brandon Randolph of Yonkers, New York, and Alex Barcello of Tempe planning signing day events at their high schools.
Lee tweeted that he will sign at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California. Barcello said he would sign at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Tempe's Corona del Sol High School. Randolph's mother, Robin, said via text message that he would sign at his Westtown School in Pennsylvania.
Lee posted a photoshopped picture of him standing in an Arizona uniform, with the McKale Center crowd behind him. Barcello posted a picture of all four UA commits — Lee, Randolph and DeAndre Ayton and himself — in separate poses.
Good news, bad news for injured Smith
Miller also told ESPN that forward Ray Smith's third ACL tear on Nov. 1 was "worse than the other two times combined," and that the redshirt freshman forward was never eligible to secure catastrophic injury insurance because he first tore the knee during the summer before his senior year of high school.
However, Miller said Smith's UA scholarship will be honored until he graduates, and UA athletic director Greg Byrne confirmed that it would remain an athletic scholarship. NCAA rules allow schools to pay for scholarships to injured athletes, and it won't count against the 13-player limit in basketball.
"Ray doesn't even have to do anything associated with the program, but in my initial talks with him, he really wants to," Miller said. "He wants to be a broadcaster, and when you meet him, talk to him, you'll see. I think that could really be in the cards for somebody like him. Not just his story, but he's really an engaging and charismatic guy.
"He has thought about coaching. So we're gonna keep him involved in what we do. I think it's great for our team in many ways because those guys really look up to him. It's a reminder to everybody to not take things for granted. You're the guy who misses class, or you're the guy who comes to practice and really doesn't want to be there just because you've had a long day — and there's a guy on the sidelines who would do anything to play college basketball, but he can't."
Miller said after UA's exhibition game with Chico State on Sunday that he would talk with Smith more upon returning from Hawaii to discuss "concrete" things he can do with the team this season.
Senior Allen's leadership emerging
Although UA entered the season with question marks over its potential leadership, with its most experienced players on the quieter side, fifth-year senior Kadeem Allen may be answering them.
Allen had 15 points with two rebounds and four assists to one turnover against Chico State, added a block and hit 7 of 8 free throws. He played 33 minutes while appearing vocal on the floor.
"Kadeem's awesome," Miller said. "At a time when everybody cares about leaving Arizona as fast as you can, leaving college basketball as fast as you can, he's the example of the young guy who has just bought in, has worked, has sacrificed and become a really good player.
"He's our heart and soul in many ways and certainly the leader of the team, and he's earned it. He's a guard that any college coach would love to have. His experience, his leadership, his toughness, those are all things that are going to help his teammates through our long journey."