Trier immediately became Arizona’s primary offensive option upon his return. He was brilliant during the Wildcats’ run to the Pac-12 tournament championship, scoring 20 points to beat No. 3 UCLA in the semifinals and 23 points to defeat No. 5 Oregon in the tournament title game.
Arizona’s season ended with an upset loss to 11th-seeded Xavier in the Sweet 16. The future of the roster was very much in question. Lauri Markkanen had an easy decision to declare for the NBA draft, and fellow freshman Kobi Simmons followed him out the door. Rawle Alkins, Miller’s third freshman star, has also declared for the draft but elected not to sign with an agent, leaving the door open for his return.
Trier was the biggest question mark. He was projected as a second-round pick, but has decided to return to school without even testing the NBA waters. He’ll hope to be next season’s Buddy Hield or Justin Jackson: A veteran college player who boosts his NBA stock by returning to school and having a monster season.
The Pacers lost Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, but it was close — a 109-108 loss that came down to a final missed shot at the buzzer. For a minute, though, it looked like Cleveland was pulling away. At the end of the third quarter, the Cavaliers led by eight, and they immediately expanded that lead to 10 points by making the first shot of the fourth quarter.
Instead, Stephenson happened. From the moment he checked into the game with 2:11 left in the third quarter to the time he left late in the fourth, he scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with an assist. They were classic, quintessential Stephenson shots — aggressive pull-up jumpers with no regard for the consequences. Sure, they might not go in. But they probably were, and in that 12-minute stretch, they did.