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Frazier’s shot landed him in the national spotlight — and he deserves it


NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Waking up this morning, checking the Twitterverse and noticing that arguably the most popular NFL player and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson tweeted about Trent Frazier’s 34 court shot last night. AND it wound up at No. 2 in today’s SportsCenter Top 10. What a day for him.

In what has been a magical season with some lows (losses to Miami, Missouri) and some highs (sweep of Michigan, road wins at Wisconsin and Penn State) — Trent’s shot last night reminds us to never take our eyes off of the action. True sports fans know this.

Frazier said it himself:

1-for-70. In a packed arena when the lights are bright. We ain’t talkin’ about practice. We ‘talkin about a game. Not practice.

Frazier is the best ball handler on the team. He’s the best perimeter defender on the team, and when he’s asked to guard the opponent’s best guard, he takes that task to heart and plays with relentless fury. That’s his role now. He’s always been coach Brad Underwood’s guy despite the dwindling numbers each year he’s been an Illini.

With a better supporting cast than in his first two years, his role has changed — but he’s still THE guy.

His shot last night meant so much more than just another three points on the board, helping to squash what was a massive Nebraska run in the last several minutes of the first half. His shot meant personal national recognition — from SportsCenter to Lamar Jackson calling his name — something the kid deserves for sticking with Illinois as a senior in high school prior to a coaching change and doubling down on that commitment as his own role evolved with the team.

Ayo Dosunmu might be the better player and better pro prospect. Kofi Cockburn is the player no one else in the country has. But Trent Frazier is still the heartbeat of Illinois Basketball, and his shot last night was as much of a feel-good moment for a player who’s put so much into this program.

Illinois Basketball 2019-20 season’s story is still writing itself. Frazier ended last night’s chapter with a nationally recognized exclamation mark.