Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Gary Trent Jr.: Duke tradition “opens eyes” of undecided McDonald’s recruits
By NICK MEDLINECHICAGO — Gary Trent Jr. wants to pitch the Duke program to undecided McDonald’s All-American players, including Mohamed Bamba, Trevon Duval and Kevin Knox. To Trent Jr., the Duke reputation speaks for itself.
“Duke’s a great school and I love everything about it,” Trent Jr. said. “There’s nothing I can educate them on that they don’t already know. When you say Duke, it opens eyes. It has a long tradition. Everything about it is great for me, and I try to harp on that to the guys. Hopefully, they come to their senses as well.”
Trent Jr. excelled in his own right at the McDonald’s All-American Game practice on Tuesday morning. The Napa (CA) Prolific Prep Academy shooting guard played some of the best defense in any session — guarding multiple positions with success and consistently forcing turnovers. He said this experience has helped him add precision to his game, matched by his excitement to participate in the event.
“This takes your game to the next level,” he said. “We’re still sharpening skills, and there are different elements you have to show in your game. The competition is off the charts, and playing here is a whole different world. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, dreaming about this moment since I was a little kid. Now, I need to show why I should be here, getting to show my skills on a national stage.”
Trent Jr. said his Duke recruitment felt like the correct fit throughout the recruiting process, and said coach Mike Krzyzewski highlighted “being himself,” while showcasing his trademark toughness and grit. Duke assistant coaches, including his lead recruiter, associate head coach Jeff Capel, were also major factors in his decision.
“I love Coach Capel to death. Everything he talks about is great,” Trent Jr. said. “He can relate to me, with him being a past player. He can show me all the ropes, and same thing with Coach Jon Scheyer, Coach Nolan Smith, and everyone else.”
Throughout the McDonald’s All-American events, Trent Jr. said he simply wants to demonstrate his intensity and all-around effort — the same qualities Duke has seen in him.
“I’m just trying to do anything I can to help the team, whether it’s defense, scoring the basketball or rebounding,” Trent said. “I’m trying to get everyone to lock up and play defense. Everyone thinks it’s an All-Star game, but I’m trying to emphasize, ‘Let’s play D.’ I’m trying to always show that toughness and grit.”
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