COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Arizona Wildcats recruiting target Allonzo Trier is the second-oldest of the 24 players trying to make USA Basketball’s U18 team, but that’s just about the birthday.
Mentally, he’s a lot older than that.
In sixth grade, already anointed one of the top players in the class of 2015, the guard from Seattle was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. In front of a picture of him posing with basketballs that appeared to be a quarter the size of his body, a headline read simply, “He’s 13.”
The longform story showcased Trier as a prodigy in the context of youth basketball obsession. It pointed out that he forced himself to make 450 shots every day on top of private and travel-team workouts, and noted that after one rough occurrence on the floor he “just seemed like an exhausted little boy who needed to go home to bed.”
After a morning workout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Wednesday, Trier said the article correctly detailed his fanatical workouts but said it “blew out of proportion” some things.
But Trier ultimately didn’t mind the story, or the avalanche of publicity that ensued. It was another valuable experience, just like Trier says this week’s trials for the U18 team are.
“It wasn’t that difficult for me,” Trier said about the Times story. “I’m a very humble kid, very down to earth. It kind of prepared me for upcoming experiences.”
Maybe that’s how, despite a dizzying five years since then, Trier has managed to resurface near the top of his class, attracting a scholarship offer from the Wildcats last week.
Since the article, Trier has moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City, where he played for a home-school association. Then last season, he moved to play for prep power Montrose Christian in Maryland. This fall, he says, he’s transferring to Nevada’s Findlay Prep for a final high school season.
On the court, Trier has likewise endured transition. He dropped from being a top prospect as a middle schooler to a fringe major prospect before he entered Montrose Christian last season. It was then, 247Sports recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said, that he elevated himself back into the elite ranks.
“He took a step during the high school season,” Meyer said. “He wasn’t as highly regarded coming out of the (summer 2013) circuit, didn’t put up the numbers to have the impact like he’s had this spring.”
Trier did it by smoothing out the transition from 13-year-old point guard to 18-year-old scoring guard. He showed comfort handling the ball during Wednesday’s workouts but now appears to be mostly a dynamic scoring guard.
“He’s a great scorer. That’s the No. 1 thing he does,” Meyer said. “He plays to his strength. People have compared him to Brandon Knight, and that’s not a bad comparison. He handles the ball pretty well, but what makes him special is his ability to score. He shoots well and is strong.”
Trier has reascended into the national rankings — he’s now ranked No. 12 overall by 247 and No. 15 by Scout — so of course has suitors. Trier said UA coach Sean Miller saw him at the EYBL event in Sacramento in April and has been recruiting him hard ever since.
Last Friday, Miller formally offered Trier a scholarship. This week, he’s helping coach Trier at the U18 trials.
While Miller cannot discuss the unsigned players he is recruiting, he said he is expecting to sign four high school players from the 2015 class. (He already has Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson as technically part of the class, along with 2015 guards Justin Simon and Tyler Dorsey.)
Miller said he expected he might sign a “big wing,” and Trier said Miller has told him how he would fit in. In return, Trier said his interest in Arizona is “pretty high,” even as he still has a list of about 14 schools he’s considering, including Kansas, Connecticut, UCLA and Louisville.
“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. “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.”