Coming off one of the greatest freshman seasons all-time by an Illini, Trent Frazier will be sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys to the car that is next year’s squad.
He burst onto the scene back in early December with multiple 20-point games, and by the end of the season, he found his name among the Freshman All-Big Ten Team. Trent solidified his role in the starting lineup, playing less than 25 minutes in just two of the last 22 games.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some proof from the Illinois Basketball Twitter account:
Updated #Illini freshman scoring list.— Illini Basketball (@IlliniMBB) March 5, 2018
1️⃣ @GARRIS22 15.9 (93-94)
2️⃣ @corybradford13 15.4 (98-99)
3️⃣ @deonthomas25 15.1 (90-91)
4️⃣ @_Trentfrazier1 12.5 (17-18)
5️⃣ Efrem Winters 12.4 (82-83)
6️⃣ @deebrown11 12.0 (02-03) pic.twitter.com/zgtinM7zZQ
Not bad company for a kid from Florida.
Illini nation has been hit with some serious waves of nostalgia lately. There’s a barely 6-foot tall youngster running around making plays, captivating all of our hearts with swagger and intensity — any names come to mind? And Frazier will be joined in the backcourt next year by five-star recruit Ayo Dosunmu; Tevian Jones, a top-100 wing out of California; and the No. 1 basketball player from the state of New York, Alan Griffin. The Illini also return Da’Monte Williams and Aaron Jordan. That sounds like a group of guards who is capable of doing some damage, and we all remember what happened last time some top-rated recruits joined forces in Champaign.
So, what could next year look like for Trent? Let’s take a look at a couple possibilities.
Worst Case Scenario
It was a stellar year for Frazier, but it’ll all mean nothing if he can’t build on it. If Trent loses the chip on his shoulder and the swagger he possesses on the court, we could be looking at a very different player.
I would hate to see Trent start off the season cold from the floor and see his confidence get shaken. I don’t think that’s the type of player we have on our hands here, just hypothetically speaking.
If Frazier can’t hang onto the ball next year, that could also present some issues. He needs to limit the three-plus turnover games, and keep the number right around one or two a night.
Best Case Scenario
We really do have the next Dee Brown on our hands. Trent takes this offseason in stride, cleans up the turnovers, improves his defense, and just turns out to be unguardable. With some improved numbers, he could solidify himself as one of the best guards in the league and put his name in contention for another All-Big Ten honor.
Then, maybe, just maybe, we might have a cold-blooded killer on our hands, and a potential all-time great.
I think both cases are a little exaggerated. I don’t see Trent regressing or taking any steps backward from last season, but I also don’t see him having a First-Team All-Big Ten season. Third Team? Pretty likely. Second Team? There’s a decent chance. The backcourt in the Big Ten won’t be as elite as it normally is, but there are a couple solid returners.
What we should all be watching next season from Trent is how he emerges as a leader. Aaron Jordan will be the only senior, and he likely won’t even find himself in the starting lineup. Outside of that, Kipper is the lone junior, so the team isn’t exactly blessed with veteran experience.
Trent needs to continue to rise up to the challenge on the court, but also step up to the plate as the voice of this team. There’s an assortment of young talent, and it can’t be all coach driven.
Frazier’s goals need to be to cut down on the turnovers, continue to do the other things you’ve been doing on the court, and be the guy who takes this program back to the next level.