LAS VEGAS - In terms of off-court distractions, no men's college basketball team has been put through the ringer quite like the Arizona Wildcats have.
And perhaps no player has been tested with those distractions more than Allonzo Trier.
Two weeks ago, the junior UA guard was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the second time in just over a year after testing positive for a banned substance. UA said just a trace amount of the substance was found in Trier's body, and it was left over from his previous positive test, which the NCAA ruled Trier did not intentionally consume. Trier missed two games but was reinstated last week after winning an appeal.
But that's not the only negative media attention Trier and the Wildcats have been subjected to this season. There was the arrest of assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson" as part of the FBI's investigation into the NCAA. Then, just one day after Trier was ruled ineligible (again), ESPN reported FBI wiretaps revealed UA coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to star Wildcat freshman Deandre Ayton. Miller has denied the allegation and returned to the UA bench after missing one game.
On whether the team was unsure whether Miller would ever coach them again:
"I’m sure there was some concern. That’s kind of like my situation, a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s not something you can prepare for. A lot of uncertainty, as it was in my situation when I went down. We just had to do the best we could on focusing on the season.
"I think (assistant coach Lorenzo) Romar and our staff did a great job of trying to keep our young guys and our basketball team focused on the right things as that all played out. Everything else took care of itself."
On how closely the team followed ESPN's report, and Miller's message to the team:
"I mean, there wasn’t really much to follow. It was what it was, and then we didn’t know what was going to happen. Coach spoke to us after everything came out and said, 'This is all B.S. but there’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m going to clear my name. I might not be with y’all for tonight, but we’ll get back,' basically.
On how Ayton handled the report:
"We’re really close. I know that when he was going through the tough time, I was going through the tough time with him. Obviously he was playing, but for him to be caught up in something that was false is probably frustrating for a kid. "
On the overall FBI investigation into college basketball:
"I could care less about it, honestly. I don’t think anything of it. I see us as a lot of young, talented basketball players that really want to continue on with our future. We’ve put a lot of hard work and dedication into this. I play basketball. Coach made his statement. I really love the game. That’s really all I’m focused on. I could care less about any of that stuff, though."
On whether the NCAA distributes its revenue fairly:
"Obviously not, but it is what it is. It’s kind of out of our control right now. I’m sure one day, there will be a group that takes a stand, or there will be something that changes that allows us to have a better system for all the players and amateur athletes out there in basketball.
"A lot of us don’t have much control; we’ll be out of here soon. That’s kind of for this up-and-coming generation that’s entering college basketball and stuff like that. I don’t really know how it’ll get done, but it’s something that should be done."
On his own suspension and how NBA teams view it:
"I really can’t say nothing about that. When I’m clear of being an amateur athlete and all that, then I can really speak on everything I’ve been through while I’ve been a part of the NCAA.
"(NBA teams) already have a good sense of what happened and that’s to the least of their concerns."
On whether all of these off-court distractions can motivate him and his teammates heading into the NCAA Tournament:
"Absolutely. It can make us have a chip on our shoulder. What I went through can make me have a chip on my shoulder. Being left off the (Jerry West Award) list can make me have a chip on my shoulder and just continue to help me rise my game to the next level."