FAYETTEVILLE - Far from home, Clarence Trent has felt at home this week.
Trent's hometown of Gig Harbor, Wash., is 2,150 miles from Fayetteville. Yet, Trent wasn't anxious during the week leading up to this weekend's Real Deal on the Hill. Trent knew he'd be the only Arkansas Hawk to hail from outside the Natural State.
But the 56th-ranked player in the Class of 2008 stayed in Arkansas this week, hanging out with his new friend and AAU teammate, Springdale Har-Ber's Michael Sanchez. He got a front-row seat to the Dana Altman saga. And, Sanchez "taught him how to be country a little bit."
After all, as Sanchez said, Trent is "a city boy."
"The first day he was here, I took him out in the country and took him fishing," Sanchez said. "He's never been fishing before. He outfished me, though."
The quick bond Sanchez and Trent formed has shown on the basketball court and helped Trent feel at ease. The Arkansas Hawks stormed into the Real Deal on the Hill championship bracket Saturday behind a 2-1 pool play performance in which Trent averaged 15 points per game.
Trent, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound small forward, impressed coaches on the AAU's West Coast circuit last summer. This summer, he wanted a change. That's how he ended up on the Hawks. His uncle knew some people in Arkansas and arranged for Trent to become a Hawk.
"I just wanted something different," Trent said.
To be sure, his play Friday and Saturday had the college players and coaches in attendance chattering about the 12th-ranked small forward in the Class of 2008.
Trent opened the tournament with a 10-point performance in front of several of Arkansas' players Friday night in the old gymnasium at Fayetteville High School. Trent thought he struggled.
He said his defense was awful. He said his passing was subpar. He said his shooting was medicore. He said he just needed to "find my stride."
He did Saturday morning and afternoon. Trent had 16 points and eight rebounds in a six-point loss. He then scored 19 points in a blowout victory that helped the Hawks advance to the championship bracket.
In that Hawks win over the St. Louis Majestics, Trent showed a complete package. He scored on drives to the basket. He rebounded. He drained 3-pointers. He blocked shots. He lofted alley-oop passes. He threaded bounce passes.
Nothing seemed difficult. Sanchez, the 6-8, 220-pound power forward, couldn't help but notice Trent's abilities.
"I love playing with Clarence," Trent said. "With him on the team, we have more athleticism. He has great ability to score."
Numerous schools are zeroed in on Trent, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisville, Washington and Washington State. Trent may have considered Arkansas his favorite before Stan Heath was fired.
"I was shocked," Trent said. "Most people were. But now, I'm just going to wait and see."
Besides, even after some impressive showings, Trent had more important things to think about. Mainly, those thoughts pertained to defense.
"I need to work on that and passing," Trent said. "I've got to work hard on being able to get more lateral movement. More agility drills, more side-to-side drills, more working out. That's what I need."
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