In a decision that could have a substantial impact on the college basketball national title race, the NCAA has declared Arizona’s second leading scorer Allonzo Trier ineligible after he tested positive for a banned substance.
According to Arizona, the test returned a quantity of the substance that was “minuscule by scientific standards” and was actually left over from his previous positive performance-enhancing drug test. Trier was suspended in fall 2016 after testing positive for a PED, which he was reportedly given unknowingly following a car crash the previous summer. The NCAA cleared him the following January, and he played in the Wildcats’ final 18 games of the season.
Arizona claims Trier’s recent positive test resulted from a reappearance of the substance that got him in trouble the first time. The school will appeal the NCAA’s decision to declare him ineligible.
The NCAA has declared Allonzo Trier ineligible, Arizona just announced. A reappearance of a banned substance was found in a January drug test. Arizona is appealing the decision.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 22, 2018
Whether or not the NCAA sees things Arizona’s way and overturns Trier’s suspension could have major implications for the Wildcats and the rest of college hoops. Trier averages 19.6 points per game, just a tenth of a point behind teammate DeAndre Ayton for the Pac-12 lead. He also ranks second among Arizona players in assists, fourth in rebounds and third in 3-point percentage. Ayton gets most of the buzz, but Trier is a guard who scores 20 points a night while shooting 54.1 percent. He is more than one of the best players on the Wildcats; he is one of the best college players in the country.
Thanks in part to Trier’s scoring, Arizona harbors legitimate title hopes, having gone 18-3 since a three-game losing streak dropped Sean Miller’s team from the Top 25 back in November. The Wildcats currently lead the Pac-12 by a game and rank No. 14 in the country, leaving them on track for a high seed come March Madness. With their inside-out talent, they could easily make a run to the Final Four or beyond — as long as Trier is around to ball out.
And so much rests on how the NCAA decides to proceed with Trier. If the junior is reinstated, the Wildcats will be positioned to seal the regular-season Pac-12 crown, enter the conference tournament as favorites and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. And if Trier remains sidelined… Arizona could be in trouble.