Seeking tougher basketball competition, Apple Valley star guard Gary Trent Jr. is transferring to prep powerhouse Findlay Prep High School in Las Vegas for his senior season.
The move to a top tier national program puts Trent, who averaged nearly 27 points per game last season, on an elite track to prepare for Division I basketball, with the hope of playing in the NBA like his father, Gary Trent Sr. He has told the Star Tribune previously that he would love to be a “one-and-done” college player, if he continues to develop and that becomes an option.
Gary Trent Sr. said his son, who is being recruited by top college programs, wants to “play against elite competition every day in practice and every night in games.’’
‘‘At the typical high school, most guys on the team are not going to play basketball after high school,’’ Gary Trent Sr. said Friday. “And within the [conference], you may face one or two Division I players throughout the season. So the best preparation that we felt for Division I college basketball was to face a Division I player every day in practice and a Division I player in every game.’’
His son announced his transfer via Twitter on Friday, saying that leaving Apple Valley was “the best decision for me’’ and calling it “very difficult for my family.’’ He expressed thanks to his teammates and coaching staff “for pushing beyond my limits. The last three years have been phenomenal and I have accomplished a lot on and off the court.’’
Trent, who is being recruited by Minnesota, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State, led the USA men’s U17 basketball team to a FIBA world championship on July 3 in Zaragoza, Spain. He scored a game-high 17 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two steals in the 96-56 championship rout over Turkey. Trent started all seven games and finished with an average of 12.7 points, the second-most on the team, and 3.9 rebounds per game.
At Apple Valley Trent played varsity as an eighth-grader on a team that featured then-sophomore Tyus Jones and won a state title. As a sophomore he helped lead Apple Valley to another state championship in 2015. Trent led the team to the state semifinals in 2016.
He exploded on the national scene in the summer of 2015, when he led a top-tier AAU circuit in scoring and earned MVP honors in an international tournament for USA Basketball. Recruiting analysts ranked Trent among the nation’s top juniors.
Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said he met with Trent after the 2016 season “and he was real honest and right up front about’’ looking at attending a prep school next year.
“JR wants to be pushed every single day in practices and games against the best possible competition,’’ said Goring, adding that Trent’s 6-6 size makes it hard to find players who can push him at practice. “I don’t blame him at all. I told him that.’’
Trent is the second Minnesota prep basketball star of late to leave during high school to attend Findlay Prep. Rashad Vaughn left Cooper High School to play his senior season there in 2014-15. Vaughn turned professional after attending the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for one year.
“It was a very hard decision for my son to leave home but it was going to happen either this year or the next year going to college,’’ Gary Trent Sr. said. “It’s our job as parents to prepare our children for whatever lies ahead of them in life. And to me, this was the best preparation he can get basketball-wise.’’