Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Arizona’s Smith Injured Again, Trier, Comanche Benched
Arizona, the preseason No. 10 team in the AP Poll, appears to be in disarray and the season doesn’t officially start for more than a week.
Redshirt freshman forward Ray Smith, who has already suffered two ACL tears, was injured again on Tuesday during an 86-35 exhibition win over College of Idaho. Sophomore guard Allonzo Trier sat on the bench amid rumors of his uncertain future and sophomore center Chance Comanche was suspended for academic reasons.
“We don’t really know exactly what happened,” head coach Sean Miller said of Smith, according to the Daily Star. “Certainly it didn’t look good. We’ll know more in the next couple of days but this this was the first time he’s been out there since both Red-Blue games and it was exciting .to see him out there for the first time. With that, to me, that trumps everything else tonight.”
The 6-foot-8 Smith missed all of last season with a medical redshirt due to an ACL tear. He’s projected as the No. 26 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
“It’s hard for his family, hard for him,” Miller said. “When you’re around him every day you realize this isn’t something that he just waited his turn and showed up today. You’re talking about hours all through the summer, two, three, four of lifting weights, of rehabbing, of working so that this time would come and the guy played 10 minutes.
“You know, it’s heartbreaking. It really is. I don’t have any words to really couch it, to make it better than it is. It’s awful.”
As for the 6-5 Trier, he sat on the bench in street clothes amid swirling rumors about his future, but Miller declined to comment on his status. Trier opted to return to campus this season instead of heading to the NBA Draft. He’s now projected as the No. 38 pick in 2017.
The 6-11 Comanche sat due to academic reasons.
“As a member of our basketball program, you are a student and an athlete, and you are expected to do the best of your ability in both areas,” Miller said in a statement. “It is not an option to compete and be held accountable on the court but not in the classroom.”
That leaves the Wildcats with seven scholarship players.
“We don’t have any depth,” Miller said. “We’re gonna play our walk-ons, and they have to get ready. We’re gonna have to play three guards a lot. We’re gonna have to teach Lauri (Markkanen) some small forward and we’re gonna have to take it one day at a time and be better at doing the things we can control than ever before.
“When we play at McKale, we’re gonna have to rely on our crowd and our efficiency, playing together with great effort and take it one day at a time and see where that leads us.”
(Photo: USA Today Sports)
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.