After being swept in its yearly Los Angeles trip to UCLA and USC, Arizona’s bad week just got worse.
Freshman guard Allonzo Trier will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand that he suffered in the Wildcats’ four-overtime loss to USC. Trier had his best game of the season in the contest, scoring 25 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists, so it’s unclear at this point when the injury occurred.
“When an injury occurs to one of our players, the first priority is his wellbeing,” coach Sean Miller said. “I am disappointed first and foremost to see a great young man like Allonzo suffer an injury. He was playing the best basketball of his young career at Arizona. Allonzo has worked tirelessly every day since he arrived on our campus. Hopefully he will be able to rejoin us at some point this season and continue his improvement and development as an outstanding player.”
After a slow start, Trier has been the Wildcats’ best offensive option for about a month now. On the season, he’s averaging 14.8 points with a remarkable 64 percent true-shooting mark, but those numbers are even better since the calendar turned to December. Since then, he’s been pouring in 17.8 points per contest with a 67 percent true-shooting rate, each of which would place him second in the conference. He is currently the No. 33 overall player on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board.
It’s fair to say that for a team that struggles to produce consistent offense from its backcourt as it is, this is a pretty severe blow. Gabe York has been a solid leader, but point guards Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright have really struggled to score efficiently and each have turnover rates nearly the 20 percent mark. Those players are going to need to step up in a big way in Trier’s absence, and it’s unclear if they have the capability to do so against Pac-12 competition. Positionally, the Wildcats will likely turn to fellow freshman Justin Simon to take over more minutes as well. Elliott Pitts is another option, but he has not played in over a month due to what Miller told CBS Sports earlier in the week are “personal reasons.”
The Wildcats have been unlucky with injuries all season, but this could be the one that finally catches up with them. Trier is the second highly-regarded freshman who will miss significant time with injury, as forward Ray Smith is out for the season with a torn ACL. Senior center Kaleb Tarczewski just recently returned after missing a month himself with a foot injury.
Luckily for Miller, the Wildcats came into the season featuring quite a few options depth-wise. However, that depth is going to be tested in a significant way over the course of the next month without Trier around.