Inside the Visit: Gary Trent, Jr.

Gary Trent Sr accompanied his son, five star scoring guard Gary Trent, Jr. on two back-to-back unofficial visits to Kentucky and Duke recently. We spoke with the elder Trent about what they saw, were told, and how this all relates to Tyus Jones.

From a parent’s perspective, how was were the two visits to Kentucky and Duke?

Gary Trent Sr., father of Gary Trent:  The traveling was just tiring because the flights were at like 6am in the morning, so we had to be there early to check in, but that’s the same thing like it is in the NBA especially since I coach with the Timberwolves now.


I heard that you guys made a team trip with the Timberwolves to Canada as well?

It was a good trip, we’re a young team and we’re improving daily and we’re trying to teach them.


What’s it like for you working with Tyus Jones with him being a local guy?

Nothing different really from when I was working with him when he was younger. I started coaching him when he was in middle school and I’ve been coaching his little brother since elementary school. It’s nothing different.


From a coach’s viewpoint, how is he adjusting to the ways of the NBA and the Timberwolves?

He’s learning different things like with pick and rolls how to avoid really getting hit by a pick, just the basics of how to guard pick and rolls because that’s basically what everything breaks down to when an execution play doesn’t work. Plus he’s just learning about the speed of the game, execution, stuff like that. We expect them to work hard, have big years and absorb everything from the veterans and the coaches and to just get better with everything.


Does having a prior playing and now coaching background in the League influence how you approached what you wanted to get out of the recent Kentucky and Duke visits?

With having played in the League and with coaching in the League, I just came along to make sure that my son was being talked to the right way and that he was able to get factual information and not lies. With him understanding most of how this process works, I could play devil’s advocate with him and just look at the good and the bad, what system potentially fits you the best, what’s good for you and what should not matter to you here, stuff like that.


From a factual information perspective with both Coach K and Coach Calipari and their staffs, what kind of information were you guys able to learn that was really helpful during both visits ?

Just the preparation of what they do, how they go about things, plans they have for Gary in their systems—would he have freedom in their systems or is it constantly just run a play every time. If he’s hot, do you run three or four plays in a row for him, all of those things.


Was there a big difference in terms of potential utilization and role for Gary with both programs?

I think they plan on using him in very similar ways and I think his opportunities are about the same at both situations.


How much did Kentucky and Duke discuss with you where they are with their recruiting efforts in 2016 and 2017 and how that might impact Gary’s situation at either program?

Well I think him being one of the top players in his class, he’s going to make an impact at any school, whether that’s Duke, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, he’s going to be good wherever he is because if you have talent and if you work hard, that will take you as far as possible.


How comfortable do you guys feel with those programs in regards to their possible recruiting classes, especially with Gary’s class?

Oh definitely. We’re not really focused on what everybody else is doing, all we can really look at is see where the other kids are signing. My son has aspirations to win a national championship and now a days, it takes at least a few McDonald’s All Americans and maybe even up to three first round picks on the team to do that.


Was there anything you heard from either the Duke or Kentucky staffs that either surprised you guys or was unexpected to hear?

Nothing is surprising because this is their job as a recruiter so there’s nothing unexpected in terms of what I think we will hear because I expect everything to be said because they are recruiting Gary.


How helpful for you guys was it to do the Duke visit with some of Gary’s friends there including Wendell Carter, Jr and Tre Jones ?

It was fun to experience that and I think sometime soon Wendell and his family will be going to visit Kentucky. It was just a lot for them since they drove to Duke from Georgia, it would have been a lot to hop around like that and for us we had to hop a flight just because of where we are geographically located.


Did the Duke staff have you guys as parents together a lot doing different things during the visit?

We toured the campus together and we went to the games together because we already have relationships. Tre and Gary have been playing together since elementary school and we took them on that Nike outing with Wendell and his family, plus a lot of the same people are involved in USA, so we’ve developed a relationship with all of them.


With having that built-in relationship with them, what if anything was different in terms of the communication you guys had while you were on the Duke visit from what you guys normally discuss in other settings?

Well really we weren’t having too much conversation with Tre because he still has another year of high school after Gary and I don’t think he’s visited too many other schools. So we were more or less speaking a lot more with Wendell and his family and just weighing the options with what would benefit our kids at Duke and Kentucky or any other school. We were just talking about that and just catching up on the friendship standpoint. We were all on unofficials, so there were some things we did on our own during the visit.


What did you think about the academic side of things with Kentucky and Duke and what you were able to see at both places?

I’d say with Duke it has a mystique with a little more Ivy League feel to them in terms of their education and the way they go about things has that Ivy League feel. It has more of a college atmosphere to it with their arena at Cameron Indoor Stadium and as far as the facilities and staff too. Whereas with Kentucky, it felt like being on a campus in terms of that, but in terms of the facilities, it felt more NBA-prep. All the facilities, their training room, their arena with 25,000, all of that felt more like NBA-prep.


Does the difference between those two programs with what you just shared—is that going to be a major evaluation point for you and Gary when you get down to comparing programs for a final decision?

It just depends on what you are looking for and what you want because at the end of the day—it’s about academics and basketball. You are going to succeed at either program with basketball for sure, so it just depends on what you want to be academically and what atmosphere do you want to be involved in more.


For you, personally, now that you have visited both places did either experience spark additional questions that you know you are going to need to have addressed with either staff as the recruiting process continues?

Well we still have some more visits that we want to take. I’m not sure if we’re going to have time with that with basketball season coming up, we just decided to squeeze in those two back to back because we could. We still want to get to Ohio State, we’re both born and raised in Columbus, Ohio so we want to get back to Ohio State for a visit and also to Michigan State. We wanted him to take as many unofficials as he could before we started official visits because you are allowed to start taking official visits after January starts so instead of going to a campus and just getting one feel for them and trying to make a life-changing decision off of one weekend, we wanted to try and get an unofficial in so that when you come back for your official visit, you are better informed because you have more experience with them already.


Do you think it’s a better option for Gary to get some official visits in during that January period next year?

I think maybe taking one or two officials this year because we don’t want to try and squeeze those things in all in one period and have your SAT and all that stuff going on with academics and EYBL. So we’re going to try and get one or two officials in after this January.


Has any coaching staff recruiting Gary already tried working with you guys to setup an official visit for January or shortly thereafter already?

No, we haven’t spoken about that yet. We’re not going to let anybody pressure us, we’re going to move at our pace and figure out some things.

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