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ESPN: Arizona’s Ayton and Trier, ASU’s Holder among best in the nation

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier shoots a free throw during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The national attention for both the Arizona and Arizona State basketball programs continues to rise as they have found success.

The latest recognition comes from ESPN writer John Gasaway, who included Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton, Arizona junior guard Allonzo Trier and Arizona State senior guard Tra Holder on his list of the 25 best players in the country.

Ranked No. 4, Ayton has been dominant on both ends of the court, averaging 19.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Ayton’s success is largely due to his 7-foot-1, 250-pound frame, as he is able to overpower opposing players in the post, writes Gasaway.

Most importantly for a 7-footer, Ayton plays a low-foul brand of ball and is averaging no less than 32 high-usage minutes per game. Compare him to David Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain or anyone else you want, Ayton’s off to an incomparable start.

Ayton’s dominance has led him to two Pac-12 Player of the Week awards this season, as well as the potential to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

At No. 11 on Gasaway’s list is Trier. Similar to Ayton, Trier has been a dominant scorer on the offensive end for the Wildcats during their eight game win streak.

Gasaway compared Trier, who is averaging 21.3 points and 3.2 assists per game, to former Wildcats Nick Johnson (2011-14) and Derrick Williams (2009-11).

Like his predecessors, Trier is equally dangerous inside or outside the arc, and the 6-5 junior is recording the highest assist rate of his career.

Mainly in part to the 6-foot-5 junior’s ability to score from anywhere on the court, he has been one of the most efficient offensive players in the country, according to Synergy Sports Tech. Trier averages 1.16 points per possession, tied for second in the country with Ayton.

For Arizona State, Holder makes Gasaway’s list for the first time this season, coming in at No. 18.

A team that primarily relies on the three-pointer, the Sun Devils speed and passing ability from its guards have allowed them to climb in the AP Poll to No. 4 overall with a 12-1 record.

Arizona State’s only loss so far this season came from in-state rival Arizona on Dec. 31, a game that saw the Sun Devils hang around due to Holder’s 31 points and 15-of-16 shooting from the free throw line. Holder has averaged 22 points and 4.5 assists this year, but it’s the way he’s grown since joining the Sun Devils that has impressed Gasaway.

His perimeter shooting has improved every season, and Holder is now knocking down better than 45 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

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