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Arizona basketball: Allonzo Trier talks about his decision to return for his sophomore season

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Trier put his NBA dream on hold to develop as a player... and win

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Given the changes to the NCAA's early-entry rules, it seemed like a strong possibility -- if not a lock -- that Arizona Wildcats' freshman Allonzo Trier would declare for the 2016 NBA Draft. The question was whether or not he'd hire an agent, effectively closing or leaving the door open for his return to Arizona.

But, in a surprising decision, Trier did neither. Instead, after gathering some feedback from NBA personnel and talking with those close to him, he decided to forgo the opportunity to test the NBA Draft waters altogether, opting to return for his sophomore season.

"It was definitely something y really look into and think about, and discuss it with your family, and coaching staff," Trier said about the possibility of entering the NBA Draft. "It’s hard because it’s something you’ve worked so hard for. Your dream is right here and it’s so close, an you’re really close to grabbing it and starting that journey of your dream, but all that means is that I’m coming back to Arizona to better myself as a player, as a person, and we think that’s best for myself to have the best longevity of a pro career."

Trier, theoretically, had nothing to lose by declaring for the draft, given that he could have still returned to school, but he wanted to be fully committed to Arizona basketball.

"For me, the type of person I am, I’m an all-in type of person," he said. "If I decide to do something, I’m going to put my all into it, and I didn’t want to be one foot out the door, and one foot in with this university and this basketball team. I understood that the process to being great for this program starts now, and I didn’t want to be halfway with this team. I wanted to show that I’m back and be dedicated to this team and give my all to this team, and start working with these guys and lock arms, and really start working towards next year to have a big year."

With Gabe York graduating, along with two other starters, Kaleb Tarczewski and Ryan Anderson, Trier will have to take on a more significant role next season -- something that he's looking forward to.

"I’m excited to come back and have a little bit of a different role, and for myself to do some things that I didn’t do my freshman year," Trier said. "To be a big part of this team, and be one of the leaders of this team, and hopefully take this team to another level that we weren’t able to reach last year."

Trier had a noteworthy freshman season, averaging nearly 15 points per game with outstanding efficiency, but Sean Miller expects Trier to be even better as a sophomore.

"I think he’ll add on to that and become one of college basketball’s best guards," Miller said. "I believe that. A lot of it has to do with his mindset and his work ethic."

Miller added, "I think he will have the opportunity to accomplish some things, improve in a number of areas where, in a year from now, when that time comes, he’ll be dead-set and ready to become an NBA guard for a very long period of time."

The Wildcats lost in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament this past season, but the expectations will be higher next season, given the caliber of the returning players along with a strong incoming recruiting class. It's a roster that will inherently have a chance to make it to a Final Four -- one that will be played just a couple hours up the road in Glendale -- and that certainly factored into Trier's decision to return.

"The coaching staff keeps us well-aware of who’s coming in, and who we’re recruiting, and we’re excited to add new guys to the roster," he said. "But as much as it is adding new guys to the roster, the guys that we have returning have to get better and step up. They can make this team go to new heights."

"If I didn’t want to win and come back to be a leader and try to bring this team to a Final Four," Trier said. "I wouldn’t be here."

Trier's dream of playing in the NBA will have to wait for now, but he's confident that choosing to stay in school was the right decision.

"A lot of people thought I should have made a different decision, but I made a decision that I felt was right for me, and I went with who I trusted," he said. "I love going to school here at the University of Arizona, and I’m glad to be here for a second year."

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapireUA