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Arizona’s Miller: Ayton, Trier, Alkins ‘not coming back’ next season

In the final home game of the season, the Arizona Wildcats defeated the Cal Golden Bears to capture the Pac-12 regular season title.

Ahead of tipoff, seniors Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Talbott Denny and Keanu Pinder were honored as part of the senior day celebration at McKale Center.

Along with the four seniors, freshman center Deandre Ayton, junior guard Allonzo Trier and sophomore guard Rawle Alkins were also honored as head coach Sean Miller announced that the trio will not return to the team next season, with implications that they will all likely turn pro.

“Yeah, they’re not coming back,” Miller said after the game. “Those guys deserved an ovation just like the seniors because they’re not going to play at McKale again.”

The trio leads the Wildcats in scoring, with Ayton averaging a team-high 19.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

The star freshman captured his 21st double-double of the season in his last game on the Wildcats’ home floor, and now looks to help lead Arizona through the conference and NCAA Tournament before potentially becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

However, the success both Ayton and Trier have endured this season hasn’t come easy.

On Feb. 22, Trier was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after testing positive for trace amounts of the same performance enhancer that kept him out of 19 games in the 2016-17 season.

Just two days later on Feb. 24, Miller and Ayton were at the center of a report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, saying Miller was allegedly heard on FBI wiretaps discussing a $100,000 payment to a key figure in the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption to secure Ayton’s commitment to the program.

The report resulted in Miller saying it was within the “best interests” of the team that he not coach what was an overtime loss to Oregon the following night.

Ayton, however, remained eligible and played against Oregon.

Miller held a press conference Thursday refuting the claims made in Schlabach’s report. He gained support from University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke, as well as the Arizona Board of Regents after they held a meeting to discuss Miller’s future with the program.

Miller returned to coach the Wildcats against Stanford, but he wasn’t the only one who made a return.

Arizona was notified just before tipoff that Trier had won his appeal to the NCAA and was eligible to finish the season.

Now, as the regular season has come to a close, the trio looks to help navigate the course of the Pac-12 Tournament before heading into the NCAA Tournament later this month.

With a first round bye in the conference tournament, the Wildcats await the winner of Arizona State and Colorado, potentially setting up an in-state quarterfinals matchup on Thursday, March 8.