Behind The Scenes With Gary Trent, Jr.

We sit down with Gary Trent Sr, father of five star scoring guard Gary Trent, Jr, to discuss his role with the Timberwolves, his work with NBA rookie Tyus Jones, his relationship with the various coaches recruiting his son, and where his son's recruitment is headed.

So how’s it feeling now that the Timberwolves season is over?  Able to catch up on some rest?

Gary Trent, Sr.:  No I haven’t actually had much chance to get that extra rest. Our season ended on Wednesday, then my son started on Friday with his AAU games. I took my kids to school on Thursday and then I had to be at the airport on Friday around 5 in the morning. That’s the life of trying to be successful.


What are your thoughts on how the Timberwolves season went?

I think we had a very improved season. I think it was a success for Karl and our player development staff did a great job with him and our young guys did a great job at maximizing their talent and also going through all the turmoil we went through at the beginning of the season.


There was an article a few weeks ago that described what you guys did in developing Andrew Wiggins in different ways, really interesting stuff…

Yeah, he was Rookie of the Year last year and then Towns was Rookie of the Year this year, so when you have two great building players with one outside player and one down on the blocks player, they are coming along well and Tyus came along well too. Even though we had a losing season this year, we still improved greatly from last season not so much in the sense of our record but in the sense of our young guys really grew up.


Tyus definitely earned some more minutes in the second half of the year for you guys, what sparked that opportunity for him?

Oh yeah definitely, this team this season a goal was to develop the young guys. We knew we didn’t have a chance to make the playoffs, so instead of scrapping and fighting for something that probably wasn’t going to work out, it was better to develop the young guys to get them more prepared for their careers down the road and to have them more prepared to make a playoff run this upcoming season. What we do with them during the summer is going to depend on where they go this summer. Some guys will hire different guys during the summer, some guys go home, but to me the goal is for everyone to improve their skill and to get stronger. So then when you come to training camp, if everyone gets stronger and faster and if everyone improves individually, there’s no way that as a team we can’t improve.


What is the plan for Tyus’s development this summer?

I think for him an important thing is to get his jump shot really pure, like if you get any daylight, if they leave you at any time to be able to knock down that shot at any time is key for his success. The other part for him is just going to be more confidence from just playing in the summer league, give him a chance to grow and get some playing time so he can keep adjusting to the speed and physicality of the game. He got some very valuable minutes during the season when we let Andre go and he became a consistent backup player for us. You play differently when you are getting those minutes and your name gets called, I think that was great for him to get a chance to grow. He really grew in being able to understand the game a little bit better, catching up to the pace of the game some, understanding the pace of the game more, reading defenses better, understanding where guys are going to be on the court. He improved in learning how to command the offense better, so he made some major strides. Guys are doing their exit interviews now with upper management, so I’m just on standby with guys if they want somebody to work them out.


Speaking of improvement, I know how hard Gary Jr works in the gym under your guidance, what’s the latest things you guys have been working on to develop his game even more?

We’re working on just being more consistent from the NBA 3-point range and working on a lot more pump fakes into his jump shot like you know how Kobe does the one-dribble pull up with the fakes and shorten the ball more and also being able to shoot off of down screens and rip-throughs, those are just to name a few.


What are your thoughts going into EYBL with how is Gary in terms of penetrating and either scoring or creating for others, drive and kicks, etc?

He’s working on his all-around game, this summer and his senior year is the time to really develop him into a combo guard. Run more point, being able to get other guys involved, being able to see the floor. He’s always been a pure scorer but now with other people knowing that, you have to be able to draw the defense in, draw the double team and kick it, so the goal this summer and next season is to develop as more of a combo guard by the time he goes to college.


Is that something you guys chose to work on, or is that something you guys started doing based on feedback from the coaches recruiting Gary?

That’s something we wanted to work on so that when he gets to college he can play any position on the court. He always played point guard all his life until he got to Apple Valley and Tre was the point guard. So he was always point guard because I never knew how tall my son would grow to, so he was a point guard from his elementary years on, then he hit his growth spurt and he was a natural shooter, so the two spot became the natural fit. I want him to always be able to play any position on the floor because sometimes with the Howard Pulley team, he will even go to the power forward spot. He plays 1-4 for our team.


What have you heard primarily from the coaches recruiting Gary in terms of expected role for Gary in their programs? 

My son is a scorer that can shoot and there’s a big difference. A shooter is just that, but a scorer that can shoot is somebody who can score in different ways including through shooting the ball. He can create his own shot, he can come down and break the defense down from a 1-4 low set, we’re working on him being a scorer that can shoot and also a point guard that can score and shoot so he can be more versatile. We are going to come to the table with the ability to do a variety of things in his arsenal. I don’t design his game for what they want to recruit, we design his game to be able to impact it from any position, at any time, from at any angle.


What kind of things then are you guys paying attention to what the coaches are saying to you guys in their recruitment of Gary?

We’re talking about what they see him doing there, what role they want him to fulfill and no matter what role they want him to fulfill, we are going to keep developing him as an all-around player. If a coach says we want him to come and be our two guard and our scorer, that’s fine, but he’s going to have the ability to run the point and the wing, he’ll have the ability to be a playmaker whether they ask him to do that or not. His dreams and last stop is not college basketball.


How much does it impact your consideration of programs recruiting Gary of who else they are recruiting on the wing, especially in his class?

The number one thing in terms of factors is how are they going to use him and how will he fit in. Number two, who else may be there because Jordan in 1984, he averaged a ton of points but he didn’t have much help, so you want to go to a program where other top skilled players complement what you are. What good is it if you are a pass-first point guard if you play with guys who don’t have skills? You wouldn’t look good as that kind of player there. How many of those assists do you think Stockton got from Malone?


Are you and Gary and Wendell Carter and his family still discussing them playing together in college as heavily as you were previously?

I’d say it’s very much a reality. I talk with Wendell’s parents probably three to five days a week  and I think Wendell and Gary Jr probably talk 3 to 5 days a week as well, so I think it’s something they very much have a plan on doing and have been since they played together on USA Basketball and the EYBL.


In your conversations with Wendell’s parents, what are the main topics of conversation?

We talk a lot about life and we have spent a lot of time on the circuit bumping into each other and our family went to Argentina, so we have become friends more than anything. We have the same common goals that we want what’s best for our sons and to have prosperous NBA desires for them. They are just great people to be affiliated with and even if our sons don’t play college basketball together, they would still be friends because they are special people.


Are you guys talking about lining up joint visits at this point?

We’ll get to some official visits together probably next year. I don’t think we’re going to do unofficial visits, I know we’re going to be looking at doing some prep school visits for me and my son. Nothing concrete yet, then we’ll look at official visits come the fall for colleges. Anybody has offered him a scholarship obviously wants him to do an official visit if he wants to. We haven’t really discussed it yet, I think he’s got some schools in mind that we’re not going to release yet, but we’re still weighing his options.


What went into the process of deciding to look at prep schools?

Being on the circuit every night and playing against competition that are other guaranteed Division 1 players, that was #1 to be in that competitive, challenged mode every day. When I looked at his current high school, the fact that most of the guys who play in that league aren’t Division 1 players, they do not challenge a player of his caliber daily in either practice or games. He can get the ball and make a straight line drive and score whereas if you are matched up against another Division 1 player, he may make you have to spin or do another crossover or make you go to your B or C move instead of usually being able to score with your A move or shot. So it’s really just to challenge him to prepare him for what’s coming next in college because when you get to college, you are going to play against a Division 1 player every single night, so why not start that in high school if you have the opportunity to do so.


Do you already have the first group of prep school visits planned out at this stage?

We haven’t had a chance to because of how busy his schedule is, we just started with EYBL and he’s going to be playing on the Adidas Path as well, so we’ll have to fit it in around that schedule and we’ll probably do USA as well. We have visited La Lumiere so far, he took a visit there during the season and we will probably visit two more schools to have something to compare it to, then once we’re done with that, we’ll take a look at those three and his high school and see what’s left. The others we’re considering are Findlay Prep in Vegas, Proelific Prep and Montverde and Oak Hill. We’re probably going to visit two more, then we’ll have to do some more research just so we’re not running around the country and we need to do some research on our own so we’re not wasting our time or the school’s time.


What kind of things are you guys researching with that?

The history of their program, coaches background, the living arrangements, academics, just everything that goes into it.


When you guys visited La Lumiere, did they discuss how they saw Gary fitting in with Brian Bowen if he were to go there?

I actually wasn’t there for that since it was during my season, so him and my wife went and visited the school. He’ll know more about that.


How familiar, if at all are you with Brian Bowen?  Thoughts on his game and do you see two different styles of players between him and Gary?

Yeah I’m familiar with him a little bit, I’ve done my research and will share with Gary what I think about different kids when we sit down and make a decision sometime this summer.


From a communication perspective, how frequently are you guys talking with the coaches that are recruiting Gary?

Gary’s been talking to them and he’s been taking his time, we’re really not in any rush. We’re going to wait until this summer is over and see what his ranking is and what his options are. The main thing we focus on is going out, working on your skill three to five times a week and performing in the tournaments. Everything else will fall into place.


Do you think he’s shaping up for a Fall decision senior year, or is it a better fit for him to wait until the Spring 2017 to decide?

We haven’t thought about it, we take it a season at a time. We finish his high school season and then we do an evaluation of how we feel that went, then we’re going to do the summer and then at the end of the summer we’ll do another evaluation of how that went, then from there we’ll narrow the schools down, probably in the fall.


Last time we talked, we talked a little bit about Duke, can you update me on how things are going with them communication wise and what they are emphasizing?

You know I haven’t heard from Duke. They talk with my son, but they don’t talk to me which is funny. They’ve always just been talking with Gary, most of the schools talk to Gary and whatnot and I just sit back and observe because it’s amazing that someone is telling your kid to come to their school and to come do this and come do that and they haven’t interacted with the parents at all. Those schools are going to lose out due to that. How does any school just in general expect to recruit a child without any contact or much contact with the parents involved in their process. It’s going to be hard for me to advise him on any program that I don’t know anything about.


For you, do you feel like there are any programs recruiting Gary that you do have a good familiarity with them?



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