NBA: Undrafted Rookie Allonzo Trier is Overcoming the Odds

The road to getting into the NBA is filled with setbacks and obstacles for many elite basketball prospects. There are personal conflicts, professional hitches in their game, and other problems that have stopped talented players from reaching their full potential. The great players are the ones that are able to overcome these issues and use them as a chip on their shoulder to defy the odds and shine in their profession.

Allonzo Trier is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. He’s faced plenty of personal and professional challenges on his long-winding road to playing for the New York Knicks. The 6’5″ guard out of Arizona went undrafted in the 2018 Draft, despite gaining First-team All-Pac-12 honors in his junior season. While almost any other player would’ve been a lottery pick with his skills and accolades, it was his past problems that stifled his dream of getting drafted. Therefore, Trier had to settle to a two-way contract with the Westchester Knicks.

Trier’s troubles began at an early age and persisted throughout his college years. Although basketball was always a natural talent for Trier, he struggled in school as a kid. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in sixth grade, and his ability to learn was slowed down significantly. Trier struggled so much in his classes that he was held back a year in middle school. Allonzo’s mother Marcie realized that the classroom setting was not the best for him, so she pulled him out of school. They moved from their hometown of Seattle to Oklahoma, where Trier joined a local AAU team. In the meantime, Marcie home-schooled Allonzo while making sure he was working diligently on his craft. Despite his problems in the classroom, Trier was able to flash his potential in front of his competition. Trier impressed many basketball scouts with his unmatched drive and love for the game while traveling through the Seattle basketball circuit. At the young age of 13, Trier was even the focus of a New York Times article, which praised his unparalleled work ethic in an ultra-competitive youth sports world. He was given the nickname ‘Iso Zo,’ due to his swift ball-handling skills and ability to score on isolation plays with ease. His score-first guard mentality, along with his lanky frame, was very alluring to high schools and colleges looking for the next best prospect. Therefore, even in spite of his scholastic issues, Trier’s game spoke much louder than any words in school would have and he was able to play ball.

His domination of AAU basketball led to almost every high school in the nation wanting to sign him. Trier initially decided to stay in Oklahoma, before his mother pushed him to newer and greater heights. After deciding to enroll in high school so he could play for the school’s team, Allonzo was able to find a path that fit his love for basketball. Yet, Marcie knew that she needed to do even more for her son if he were to ever make it to the NBA. Hence in his junior year, the Triers moved from Oklahoma to Maryland so Allonzo could play for a better program. Zo finished the year in style, averaging 24.9 points en route to a Christian Schools Athletic Association Division 1 championship, as well as the 2014 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year.

But not even that was enough for Marcie and Allonzo. She pushed Zo even further by moving to Nevada to play at Findlay Prep for his senior year. Findlay Prep is one of the best high school basketball programs, a school that breeds D1 college talent. Against better and tougher competition, Iso Zo averaging 26.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. Even though Trier bounced around schools throughout his youth, his stellar play was enough to land him McDonald All-American and Jordan Brand Classic honors. After receiving plenty of scholarship offers, Trier decided to go to Arizona after building a relationship with head coach Sean Miller.

However, the twists in the road to the league reappeared during his three-year tenure at Arizona. In his freshman season, Trier missed seven games due to a hand injury, but still managed to average 14.8 points. The biggest obstacle to his NBA career happened at the start of his second year when Trier was suspended indefinitely for testing positive for a P.E.D. According to his doctor, the drug was given to Allonzo to help deal with injuries sustained after a car crash. Allonzo ended up missing 19 games that season, despite the fact that the drug had not been used intentionally. Nonetheless, Iso Zo again defied the odds, averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18 games. Even in a limited sample size, Trier gained Second-team All-Pac-12 honors. Furthermore, he was named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

In his junior year,  Trier ran into NCAA issues once more as he was ruled ineligible for testing positive another banned substance. According to Arizona, it was the remnants of the same drug that held Allonzo out of the majority of the last season. In the face of more adversity, Trier did what he does best; he let his game do the talking. Iso Zo lived up to his nickname, as he averaged 18.1 and 3.2 assists. As previously mentioned, he was also able to gain First-team All-Pac-12 honors, having finally been able to play a full season.

Yet, because of his past issues with the NCAA, Trier was overlooked during the draft. Every team had a chance to draft him, and 60 players ended up being drafted despite him being on-par with his talent and potential. Even though he may have been treated unfairly during his time in college, he was able to use his past experiences with adversity to overcome everything. The rebuilding Knicks seized upon the opportunity to sign the undrafted Trier, seeing his true potential as a score-first combo guard.

Despite going undrafted, Trier has done nothing but impress for the Knicks. Since he was signed to a two-way contract, he is supposed to split his season between New York and Westchester. Yet, as the season progresses, Allonzo may very well play himself into a permanent roster spot on the team. As a second-string guard, Trier is averaging 11.4 points, shooting 49% from the field and 46% from three. He has gone in-and-out of the starting lineup, depending on coach David Fizdale’s rotations.

There is no reason why Iso Zo can’t become one of the best shooting guards in the league. Trier has managed to jump over each hurdle presented to him with grit and determination.

He can finish at the basket with both hands and has the devastating moves to create space for knock-down jumpers. With his incredible scoring acumen, combined with his incomparable hustle and grind, Allonzo Trier has all the tools to become great. The 22-year-old is even more prepared for the spotlight and challenges that lie ahead, having overcome everything he had thus far.

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