Gary Trent Jr. is a leader.
This statement is predicated on the fact that I've known him since he was a youngster. Right in my own backyard, I have watched him evolve into one of the nation's top basketball prospects, employing a contagious work ethic that rubs off on everyone around him.
This statement is also predicated on what I witnessed just before conducting my interview with the 2015 EYBL Regular Season scoring champion at Howard Pulley's most recent practice.
This story explains everything you need to know about the makeup of Gary Trent Jr.
With time running short in the practice, it was Trent's turn to catch up with me, scheduling the interview earlier in the day after texting him that he's a cover boy on the front of this preview.
Having caught up with a few of his running mates, I stood on the sideline, eager to catch up with Howard Pulley's alpha dog as I watched 17U close practice with sprints.
"Gary!" Assistant coach Dedric Jenkins yelled to the junior star, pointing at me, the shortest guy on the court. "D1's waiting on you."
It was at this point that the topic of this article hit me, and I didn't have to lift a finger.
"But coach," Trent glared at Jenkins, dropping in sweat.
My head nearly exploded.
It was clear by looking at him that Trent was genuinely displeased that his long-time coach dare impede his running. Having no business in wanting to interrupt the close to his workout, I tried to reason with him, after the initial shock of the comment wore off.
"You do you, Gary. Finish those sprints!" I yelled with a smile, thinking to myself how many times I would have loved to have media requests interrupt coach-mandated killers.
He wiped his brow, coming to terms that his practice was over a few minutes short.
"It's cool," he grinned.
Don't get me wrong. Trent wasn't upset to be talking to me. Always treating me a like a friend. Trent proceeded to give a thoughtful, highly-educated response to every question I threw at him, clearly priding himself on his business like approach.
Being spoken like an NBA veteran is no surprise, as it is old news that Trent is the son of 10-year NBA vet Gary Trent. The elder Gary has had a huge impact on his son's game, but has done an equally good job raising him off the court.
The clear disdain he had for abandoning his teammates at the end of practice was all the convincing I needed about what type of leader Trent is.
Back to the interview.
Eloquent with his words, the Apple Valley star takes his time with his answers, making sure he illustrates his thoughts accurately. While discussing a variety of topics surrounding his life and the upcoming EYBL, it became abundantly clear that Trent essentially cares about one thing.
That's it and that's all.
Photo credit: Scout.com
Alec Kinsky: You’re set to defend your scoring championship. Take me through your mental preparation entering this year. You have quite a talented squad around you this year.
Gary Trent Jr.: Yeah, we should be pretty decent. The first thing I’m looking for is Peach Jam. We did not make it last year. This year we have to come out strong and assert ourselves the first session. We can’t wait until the third or fourth sessions, we have to go right away if we want to be successful in this league this year.
AK: Have you been explaining the rigors of the EYBL to your new teammates?
Trent, Jr.: Most definitely. I’ve been explaining to them what it’s like. You can’t know what it’s like until you’re out there, it’s crazy. I don’t want that sour taste in my mouth again like last year. Seeing tweets, seeing players talk about how fun Peach Jam was, and I wasn’t a part of it, that really frustrated me. So, this year I am on a mission to get to Peach Jam and win it.
AK: Talk a bit about playing with Tre. You’ve watched his evolution. How is he going to help you in your second year in 17s?
Trent, Jr.: As we get going into the sessions, he’s going to get better and better and better. It’s going to be scary. He’s going to free me up because they’re going to be worried about me driving. He can get anywhere he wants, he’s so quick and so fast. He can dribble with the ball great, he’s really a great player and I’m glad he’s on our team so he can take some pressure off of me.
AK: What’s your mindset going into Year 2? You have to have a lot of confidence at this level after this year.
Trent, Jr.: Last year was a huge confidence booster for me. My confidence has always been there, but that pushed it to another level. When I go out there, I feel like I can do whatever I want. I’m gonna go out there and play hard, whatever happens, happens. I just can’t wait for the EYBL to start.
AK: What’s the workout schedule look like for you right now?
Trent, Jr.: Oh man. Mondays we lift and do some running, then go to the gym and shoot. Tuesday I go to practice. Wednesday is weights again, I go shoot after that sometimes. Practice Thursday. Friday go shoot. Saturday and Sunday, depending on how my body is feeling, I take a break here and there. There is hardly ever a break though, I have to keep pushing and pushing, and that’s what I’m striving for, so I’m going to continue to do that.
AK: Is strength something you’re looking to be a focal point?
Trent, Jr.: I actually got sick and lost about 20 pounds during the season. I’m just getting it back so we’re ready to roll.
AK: You led the league in scoring in 2015. How comfortable are you offensively right now?
Trent, Jr.: I would say that I’ve worked hard enough and put enough hours in the gym to where I believe that I can score against anybody. Yeah, there are great defenders and you’ll have slumps in a game, but at the end of the day, I believe in my talents. I’m confident in myself.