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Gary Trent Jr. thriving in the summer basketball scene

With 2016 local phenom Amir Coffey sitting out this summer as he rehabilitates a torn ACL, fellow four-star recruit, 2017’s Gary Trent has taken a greater role on Howard Pulley – the Elite Youth Basketball League squad made up mostly of Minnesota players.

Trent is making the most of the opportunity.

Although Howard Pulley currently sits seventh in Division D – out of qualification for the Peach Jam – the 6-4 Apple Valley star is thriving individually. He currently leads the EYBL in scoring, averaging 22.1 points per game as he dominates off the bounce and from the perimeter. And college coaches are noticing: Trent has already accumulated eight offers – Minnesota included – as the summer before his junior year heats up.

“I take pride in my all-around game and scoring,” Trent said at the Maple Grove session in late May. “I log a lot of hours in the gym, and I’m just happy to be playing at a high level.”

This weekend, Trent added Kansas to a pile of offers that includes Michigan State, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Alabama, Providence, Florida State and the Gophers and recently Duke and Kentucky began courting him as well.

The competition is stiff – Trent said the Spartans are going after him the hardest right now – but the Gophers staff has thrown its hat into the ring in what could ultimately be one of the defining recruitments of the Richard Pitino era.

Trent has been on campus a few times – his only unofficial visit so far – attending the Purdue football game last fall, and has gotten to know assistant Ben Johnson, who has taken the lead on Minnesota’s recruitment efforts.

“He’s very cool, we have a great relationship,” Trent said of Johnson. “Hopefully – there are more years – we can keep growing it.”

Trent keeps growing as well. Surrounded by worthy mentors, the shooting guard, who has sprouted an inch in the last year, is only getting more consistent and lethal with his shots from distance and is improving his pass game as well. He benefits from the training of a nine-year NBA veteran – his dad, Gary Trent Sr. He gets advice from former AAU and high school teammate Tyus Jones, who won the national championship with Duke last year and is now entering the NBA draft. But when Trent talks about his goals, he pieces together a bionic basketball player of sorts. He wants Stephen Curry’s shot. Kobe Bryant’s mindset. LeBron James’ power.

And perhaps a blend unique only to Trent.

The elder Trent – who didn’t play organized basketball until high school – didn’t have the same background, lacking ball handling and shooting skills as an undersized post-up center, but the father has become an apt teacher in the areas he fell short.

“He gave me everything I know,” his son said. “Every move, every step-back, every jump shot I shoot is from him.”

Rayno: A few wings on Minnesota's radar for '16

Coming on the heels of the 2015 class and all its hype and moving parts, Minnesota’s 2016 recruiting landscape is far less interesting. The Gophers – after signing Davonte Fitzgerald this week – will have just two scholarships to give, and one of them has already been reserved for Rochester small forward Michael Hurt, who committed to his home-state university in January.

He joins a Gophers future that is suddenly heavy on wings with 2015 signees Jordan Murphy and Ahmad Gilbert joining Hurt in lineups down the road.

Would Minnesota go after yet another wing for 2016? There are a few the Gophers have been looking at this summer including Xavier Sneed and Willie Jackson – who were both in Minneapolis for the EYBL session this weekend – as well as Hopkins’ Amir Coffey, who is sitting out this summer with a torn ACL.

Sneed is a four-star recruit out of Missouri – he grew up a Tigers fan, he said, but is trying to ignore that for the sake of his decision – and has compiled a notable list of offers, mostly involving Midwest schools with Wichita State jumping on board most recently. His athleticism and activeness of both sides of the ball has attracted Minnesota’s coaching staff, which wasn’t present at this weekend’s event due to an NCAA mandated “dead” recruiting period.

“My motor, the fact that I run the court a lot,” Sneed said. “They said they love that and they need that. That I’m not afraid to go against anybody. I love to go against the other team’s best defenders. I’m not afraid of anything.”

Sneed (6-5) and Jackson (6-6) both have decent size, but the Gophers appear to have cooled on the latter, who isn’t quite as skilled.

Jackson, a Cleveland native, didn’t even start playing basketball until he was 14 – when he broke his collarbone playing baseball and subsequently gave up his dream of playing in the MLB. As much as anything, he is a competitor – he also plays soccer and runs track at Garfield Heights High School.

“I just play so I can get the offer and then go to school,” said the King James player, who is as excited to major in criminal justice as he is to get a basketball scholarship. “It’s all about getting in school.”

Coach Richard Pitino and his staff, understandably, have cast a wide net to fill that single scholarship to insure they get the right fit and don’t come up empty.

Still, unless Coffey –who is currently ranked 46th nationally according to Rivals – decides to give the Gophers the nod, Minnesota would probably be better suited to look outside of the wing corps moving forward, especially considering the needs in the frontcourt.

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Today's Scoreboard

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  • Minnesota

    Boston

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • Milwaukee

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Atlanta

    Arizona

     

    - F

    8

    9

  • NY Yankees

    Seattle

     

    - F

    3

    1

  • Pittsburgh

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    5

    2

  • Cincinnati

    Philadelphia

     

    - Bot 7th

    2

    0

  • Toronto

    Washington

     

    - Bot 7th

    7

    0

  • Oakland

    Detroit

     

    - Bot 6th

    4

    0

  • Minnesota

    Boston

     

    - Top 7th

    2

    0

  • Chicago Cubs

    Miami

     

    - Top 6th

    2

    6

  • Chicago White Sox

    Texas

     

    - Top 2nd

    6

    0

  • LA Dodgers

    Colorado

     

    - Delayed

    0

    0

  • Baltimore

    Houston

     

    - Top 3rd

    0

    1

  • Cleveland

    Kansas City

     

    - Top 3rd

    2

    1

  • NY Mets

    San Diego

    8:10 PM

  • Tampa Bay

    LA Angels

    9:05 PM

  • Chicago

    Tampa Bay

     

    - 1st, 5:35

    0

    1