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Illinois Basketball 2018-19 Player Review: Trent Frazier

He may not be the only dominant guard on the roster anymore, but Frazier still plays an irreplaceable role.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Northwestern vs Illinois David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

By The Numbers

Coming off an impressive freshman campaign, Trent Frazier struggled somewhat early on in the season to coordinate his talents with Ayo Dosunmu. Nevertheless, Frazier adapted and played well during Big Ten play and through the end of the season. By the end of the year, Frazier led the team in steals (44, 1.4 per game), and was the team runner up in points scored (439, 13.7 per game), three-point percentage (40.6%), assists (82, 2.6 per game), and minutes on the court (30.6 per game). Frazier also finished third on the team in free throw shooting (75.9%).

Trent’s aggressive defense is great fit for Brad Underwood’s offense, and he caused some key turnovers in critical situations during the course of the year (MSU comes to mind). His three-point shooting was also a sparkplug for the Illini offense, since his ability to drain very difficult three-point shots stretched defenses out and allowed other players like Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Andres Feliz to take advantage.

With the exception of steals and assists, each of the stats mentioned above represents an improvement from the 2017-18 season, as Frazier scored only 12.5 points per game last year, shot 34.7% from three-point land, and 64.4% from the charity stripe. The decline in assists no doubt has much more to do with the addition of another outstanding lead guard than it did with Frazier’s ability to run the offense.

The entire team struggled with ball control during this past season, and the bulk of the turnovers came at the hands of the primary offensive threats. Frazier had the third highest TO/game ratio (2.0) behind Bezhanishvili and Dosunmu. This is an improvement for Frazier over the 2017-18 season, where he posted 2.2 turnovers per game. With more experience, it’s certainly reasonable to expect that Dosunmu and Frazier’s turnover numbers will more closely resemble Andres Feliz’s 1.5 turnovers per game in 18-19.

Impact on the Illini

Put simply, the Illini cannot succeed without Frazier’s production. The 2017-18 season proved that only having one lead guard with the ability to score in different ways (behind the arc, pull up jumpers, driving to the rim, etc.) is a recipe for disaster. It makes the team’s offense simply too predictable and easy to defend. Trent played well in those circumstances last season, but it didn’t result in enough wins for the team.

Now that Frazier and Dosunmu have learned how to play effectively alongside one another, the Illini offense should take major steps next season with both in the backcourt. The two of them and Andres Feliz are so much more than the sum of their parts, because they each have different styles and are effective in what they do.

The foundation for Frazier to increase his impact on the Illini next season is already laid; he simply needs to improve his ball control and continue to develop his already impressive offensive game.

Trent Frazier’s Best Game

Illinois’ slate during the Maui Invitational was downright brutal, and it began with none other than then-No.3 and current 1-seed Gonzaga. The Illini fought tooth and nail in this one and kept the possibility of a major upset alive through the very end of the game.

Frazier was a major reason that the Illini hung in this game as long as they did. He scored 29 points — which would be the second-highest single-game total for him by then end of the year — and recorded 5 steals along with 2 assists.

Those are some serious NBA-range threes that Frazier was hitting in that game, and his heroics have a place in Illini lore even though the team ultimately came up short down the stretch.

The Quick and Dirty

Trent’s role has transitioned from being one of the only sources of offense in the 2017-18 season, to being a complement to Ayo Dosunmu at the guard position and Giorgi Bezhanishvili in the paint. That’s not to say that Trent’s offensive production isn’t as valuable because it most certainly is, but Frazier is expanding the entire team’s offensive abilities by improving his ability to complement other players.

Andres Feliz is also a solid guard, but he isn’t as well rounded as Frazier with regards to facilitation of the offense and three-point scoring ability.

Frazier can do it all, and that’s exactly what this team will need next season and beyond.

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