In the team's final home game of the season, Arizona honored the four seniors on its roster—Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Talbott Denny and Keanu Pinder. But freshman Deandre Ayton, sophomore Rawle Alkins and junior Allonzo Trier were also given tributes before the Wildcats' 66-54 win over California. That's because, as embattled coach Sean Miller put it bluntly, all three players will not be back next season.
Ayton is widely projected to be a top-five pick, while Alkins and Trier also have a good chance of being picked later in the first round.
"Yeah, they're not coming back," Miller said. When asked to clarify why the three players were honored, Miller said: "Those guys deserved an ovation just like the seniors because they're not going to play in [Arizona's home stadium] McKale again."
Miller's program has been at the center of the college basketball world after an ESPN report suggested the FBI has recordings of Miller discussing a $100,000 payment for the commitment of Ayton. Miller vehemently denied the report in a press conference Thursday, and Arizona's board of regents met and decided that he will stay on.
Trier hasn't avoided controversy himself this season, though for a different reason altogether. He missed two games after failing a second performance-enhancing drug test but was reinstated because the amount of the substance found in his sample was so small.
If Ayton, Alkins and Trier all turn pro, Arizona will lose all four starters from this season (those three plus Jackson-Cartwright and Ristic). Making matters more complicated is the fact that Arizona currently has zero recruits committed from the class of 2018. Shaquille O'Neal's son Shareef, a top-35 prospect, de-committed after the ESPN report last week—and later committed to UCLA—and another top-100 commit, Brandon Williams, re-opened his recruitment in light of recent events.