Basketball in the Pac-12 is intense, but nothing is more intense for a college athlete than facing a room of 30 or so media outlets looking for a story. Most players had a month or more to prepare, but not Arizona’s Kadeem Allen.
Each school in the Pac-12 showed up with one of their players to face the media and talk about their program as they do each year. The team sheets that give media information to ask questions dribbled in slowly. Arizona’s never showed up, but that was okay for Arizona related media, we had our questions already lined up.
Following, was the order of interviewees:
• Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott.
• Washington State’s Ernie Kent and Josh Hawkinson
• Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley and Tra Holder
• UCLA’s Steve Alford and Isaac Hamilton
• Stanford’s Jerod Haase and Reid Travis
• Washington’s Lorenzo Romar and Malik Dime
• Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle and Tres Tinkle
• USC’s Andy Enfield and Elijah Stewart
• Colorado’s Tad Boyle and Wesley Gordon
• California’s Cuonzo Martin and Jabari Bird
• Arizona’s Sean Miller and Kadeem Allen
• Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak and Kyle Kuzma
• Oregon’s Dana Altman and Tyler Dorsey
• Pac-12 coordinator of men’s basketball officiating Bobby Dibler
Controversy? Or not really?
Controversy and injuries have plagued Arizona’s top two sports in the last couple of years and this season is no different. Early on Friday morning, it wasn’t sophomore Allonzo Trier’s name or photo on the schedule; it was senior guard, Kadeem Allen.
We surmise that the reason for the swap was due to the looming questions and possible legal ramifications of stating the wrong thing to the media with regards to the ‘will Trier be eligible’ cloud hanging over the Wildcats program currently.
Why put Trier through that? And why should the program take the risk? Instead, Coach Sean Miller chose to bring his lone red shirt senior leader Allen.
Arizona Daily Star Wildcats basketball reporter Jon Gold poignantly pointed out that there was a lack of high energy, high projected NBA draft pick star power all around at the event. The coaches opted less for hype and more for the sure thing.
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‘We want to be dazzled. We want to be entertained. Like Galileo with a telescope on a cloudy night, we wonder: Is it too much to ask for some stars?”
The question is, what’s the criteria for who the coaches bring to these events? Is it to keep someone happy? To fulfill a promise for motivational purposes? Is it the best performer? Or the best student? It certainly wasn’t to bring the extrovert on each team, but we can understand why that wouldn’t be the safe bet.
Perhaps Utah Coach Krystkowiak said it best about the mood in the room as he and his player Kyle Kuzma entered the room, “What is this? A debate or something?” You could hear a pin drop, but it brought a smile to my face, “Right?.”
Kadeem Allen will be the Wildcats Leader this year
Sean Miller was sincere and concise; Kadeem Allen is his leader this season, he didn’t hesitate when I asked him at lunch. “Kadeem, Kadeem is my leader this season.”
Personally, I think Kadeem is an excellent choice! Seems level-headed, successful, wants to win, mature, polite, fierce on the court, and the oldest probably on the team. Allen has taken the hard road to get to this point, and it’s about time he gets something back for his efforts.
Allen told ZonaZealots that coach Miller asked him to step up and lead and that is exactly what the highly rated JUCO Transfer pledged to do. Allen said that he would be the player who will be on the court and bench keeping his team’s head in the game and spirits high. Kadeem may need some “Miller Intensity” pills to fulfill his promise.
When asked about the visible team chemistry displayed at the McDonald’s Red and Blue game and how it came about, Allen answered, “Well, I felt everyone invited and coming together collectively as a team,” he said, “As coach said, there is no I in team. Team success comes with individual accolades. So everyone bought into that, and we’re trying to be the best team we can be.”
Miller spoke highly of Kadeem in his opening remarks, “I wouldn’t want to be here at media day without anyone else. Kadeem is a guy, in my mind who’s a throwback to how college basketball used to be in that he has earned everything that he has got,” Miller continued, “He’s not only going to be the Pac-12’s best, but he will be a leader, the leader of our team this year.”
Allen will be playing the dad type of role to all the younger players, fitting since gen just became a daddy to his new baby girl. He is jubilant and ready to play both roles.
As far as his teammates, Kadeem seems to resonate mostly with Arizona center Chance Comanche, The Chief. Chance and Kadeem were roommates last season, and they traveled together with the rest of the Pac-12 players to Australia to play against the Australian National team to prepare them for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Both Kadeem and Chance performed well in Australia, and the trip brought them closer together, in fact, when asked who was his silliest and funniest teammate, it wasn’t a surprise when he mentioned Chance with a huge smile on his face.
There you have it Wildcats fans! Kadeem Allen will be the leader of the Cats this season, with Miller molding this humble young man. We still don’t know if Allonzo Trier is cleared to play for Arizona but despite that, Pac-12 Media Day is now officially in the books!