McKale Center renovations are still months away from completion, but the project already accomplished a major goal Sunday: It was something of a clincher in five-star guard Allonzo Trier’s decision to become an Arizona Wildcat.
Trier, a 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound shooting guard from Seattle and Oklahoma who has been known as a top 2015 player since middle school, chose the Wildcats over schools including Kansas, Connecticut, UCLA and Louisville.
Trier said he developed a strong relationship with UA coach Sean Miller while playing for the U17 USA Basketball team Miller helped coach in June, and has been heavily recruited since then by UA assistant coach Joe Pasternack.
But it was the chance to see the UA campus for the first time this weekend for an official visit that helped seal the deal for the touted guard.
Trier said he was impressed with UA’s facilities, especially with the $30 million renovation phase to McKale Center, which is scheduled to be largely completed in time for the Red-Blue Game on Oct. 18.
“They were telling me a lot about the facilities and things like that, but seeing the McKale Center renovations was special to me,” Trier said by telephone Sunday from the Tucson airport, after finishing his visit.
“It was the facilities and the relationship I had with coach Miller and the coaching staff. I thought that was the best place to get me to the next level.”
During the USA Basketball tryouts in June, Trier told the Star that his interest in Arizona was “pretty high,” even though at that point he still had a list of about 14 schools he was considering.
“They talk about how they’re going to use me and help me build their program, and how it could fit my ability to score,” Trier said of UA then. “I’m a little bit of a bigger guard, but I can play point guard as well. I score the ball well and I make plays for my teammates. It’s just a matter of how a coach wants to use me.”
A dominant scorer who dropped 42 points on the New Jersey Playaz and fellow UA recruiting target Isaiah Briscoe during a Peach Jam travel-ball game in July, Trier said Sunday that UA coaches plan to use him in several ways. Trier can also play point guard but is regarded most highly for his all-around ability to score.
“They don’t plan on me being one-dimensional,” Trier said. “They’re going to move me around a lot.”
Once a boyhood prodigy who was featured on the cover of the New York Times magazine as a 13-year-old, Trier’s stock re-ascended during his junior season at Montrose Christian of Maryland.
An ESPN.com analysis called him a “very talented and confident offensive player” who believes he can score whenever he wants, noting that he is an above-the-rim finisher on the break and is also effective pulling up for mid-range or three-point shots.
Having seen Trier at a Nike EYBL event in April, Miller followed the guard around during the spring and summer, while also coaching him with USA Basketball. Miller offered him a scholarship in June, then coached Trier on USA Basketball’s U17 team later that month. The offer to Trier came a week before guard Tyler Dorsey decommitted from the Wildcats.
“Definitely, I think my play (this year) caught the attention of a lot of people,” Trier said. “I really established myself.”
With Trier, Arizona now has three high school players, plus Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, expected to begin playing for the Wildcats in 2015-16. The other high school players are combo guard Justin Simon of Temecula, Calif., and wing Ray Smith of Las Vegas.
Though originally from Seattle, Trier has lived in Oklahoma City and played prep basketball for Montrose in Maryland last season. He is scheduled to play for Nevada’s Findlay Prep as a senior in 2014-15.
UA is expected to pursue at least one other player for the fall signing class, probably a big man. Among the Wildcats’ remaining top targets are Ivan Rabb of Oakland, Calif., Stephen Zimmerman of Las Vegas and Chance Comanche of Los Angeles.
Miller said in June that he was aiming to sign four high school players in the fall and possibly add another during the winter or spring.
The Wildcats will have two scholarships open for 2015-16 when guard T.J. McConnell and forward Matt Korcheck depart but could have up to three or four additional openings because of early NBA departures.