Would Alkins and Trier have been better off returning to school? Should they have left the UA sooner than they did? Did they leave at the right time?
Our staff discussed it.
Zant Reyez: I was surprised about Rawle Alkins not being taken. I saw plenty of mock drafts have him as a second round pick. The odds were slim for Allonzo Trier to be picked, as his name was rare to find on any mock draft. I think both of them had maxed out what they could do at U of A, and it was the right move to move on.
I’ll be interested to see if Alkins is close to 100 percent when he arrives in Toronto. If he can work on consistently finishing at the rim and boost his 3-point percentage, I think he’ll find a role in the league.
Say what you will about Trier, and Twitter always did especially come March (hello, Xavier Sweet-16 game). I was surprised when he came back for his junior year considering what he went through with the NCAA as a sophomore.
I know many fans want to see players stay in school for more than a year, but Trier is a prime example of the downside of staying too long. A lot of misfortune happened to him during his time in Tucson, but I think players should to go to the NBA if they feel it’s the best time for them to do it. Go get paid either in the NBA or overseas or the league LaVar Ball is going to create one day.
I’m not going to fault Trier for sticking around with the ‘Cats for as long as he did, but the goal for the majority of players isn’t college; it’s the NBA. If you want to go pro and you feel it’s the right time, do it.
Alec Sills-Trausch: We knew this would happen. Maybe not specifically Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier, but in general, basic math told us top collegiate players might not be drafted due to there only being 60 picks and over 75 underclassmen vying to be drafted. I will say I figured Alkins would be drafted but wasn’t shocked at all Trier was on the outside looking in.
If we’re looking at this as a zero-sum game where getting drafted is a success and not getting drafted is a abject failure, then yes, they did leave too early. However, they are now going to get paid to play basketball. They no longer have to play school and can focus full time on their sport. So I’m not sure we can say it either way. Would UA be better off if they returned? Definitely. But one could argue the Wildcats need a fresh start after last season and their three-headed monster of a lineup needed to move on to greener pastures.
More concerning, however, is why weren’t two of the three best players on Arizona drafted? Their skillset is there which makes you wonder if there’s an underlying issue at play here that came out during internal investigations or one-on-one interviews. I’m not saying there is anything there but for Alkins to be flirting with a late first-round selection all season and in the lead up to the draft to then be left on the outside looking in, it’s puzzling.
Gabe Encinas: I’m always a fan of leaving as soon as you can when it comes to basketball. The evaluations seem to focus so much on how young a player is and their ability to grow, unless you come out with a godly NCAA performance or produce every night for three or four years.
Add in the fact that in college you have to go to class, have hour restrictions with practice, and don’t have nearly the same resources, the NBA is way better place to develop, especially if you can get a first-round grade.
In Trier’s case, he was widely regarded as a first round pick after his freshman season. So for as much as people don’t like his demeanor and hero ball mentality (myself included), it sucks to see him go from first rounder to being suspended to being out of the draft as a whole.
I’m still mildly surprised he didn’t get selected, despite him being in absent in mock drafts. The bottom half of the second round is virtually useless with a few exceptions, and it only takes one team to like his shooting ability.
Alkins graded as a mid-high second round pick and didn’t even come away with a two-way deal, which is puzzling. The big knock was that he’s not great at any one thing, but there are plenty of guys in the league who are like that as well, or even have more severe deficiencies in an area.
Even if Trier and Alkins don’t stick in the NBA, plenty of guys have had success overseas.
But overall I stick with the Kobi Simmons route, just knowing you’re going pro no matter what after one year whether that’s the league or overseas, have the entire fan base hate on you when you buy your mom a Range Rover, and appear in a couple of NBA games here or there as a 20 year-old, develop against better talent, use the resources and time, and work your way up.
Ryan Kelapire: I agree with Alec in that it’s not totally accurate to simply say that if you get drafted, you made the right decision and if you didn’t, you made a mistake.
But if we’re using that line of thought, then I think Rawle Alkins left both too early and too late. Yes, that’s possible. Let me explain. Knowing what we know now, his best move would have been to leave after his freshman season or return for his junior season.
Entering the draft after a sophomore season in which he didn’t show much, if any, improvement — which was partly because of his foot injury — clearly hurt his draft stock.
If Alkins returned as a junior, he would have been the featured option on the team, and could have played his way into the second round, maybe even the first round since the 2019 draft is believed to be weaker.
If Alkins left as a freshman, he would have had a great shot of being drafted since he was coming off a great season, had more upside (he was younger), and had a strong showing at the NBA Combine.
As for Trier, he stayed too long in hindsight. He was a constant presence in 2016 mock drafts, because his upside was considered higher as a 19-year-old freshman, so you have to think he would have gotten drafted then.
Leaving after his sophomore season would have been risky because teams only had half a season of game tape on him that year, plus he didn’t play his best coming off that 19-game suspension.
But when deciding between returning for his senior season or leaving as a junior, I think Trier made the right call. I’m not sure how much more he had to prove in college. I mean, he averaged over 18 points per game and did it while nearly shooting 50/40/90. Good luck topping that.
And if he would have returned to Arizona for his senior season and posted similar numbers, his draft stock would be the same or lower than it was this year, and he would have passed up on a year of making money to boot.
And if Trier’s game regressed as a senior? He’s a non-prospect.
The only way returning to school would have been the best option is if Trier improved incrementally on defense, and I just don’t think that’s ever going to happen, whether he’s playing in college or the G League. At some point, players are who they are.