APPLE VALLEY, Minn — Being the son of an NBA basketball player gives Apple Valley’s Gary Trent Jr. some big shoes to fill, the boxes of which adorn his wall filled with letters from college coaches who are already pining for his services as a sophomore.
“He’s put his time in,” says Apple Valley head coach Zach Goring. “And there is a reason he’s as good as he is.”
Genetics don’t hurt. His father, Gary Trent Sr., spent nine years in the NBA. A feared big man. He’s turned family man and doting dad and coach to Gary Junior — who he believes has a gift for the game.
“Every dad thinks his kid is going to be something. So I didn’t voice it to a lot of people,” says Gary Trent Sr. “I knew I had something special, but I wouldn’t find out how much till years later.”
Nine years later, Gary Jr. is thought of my some to be one of the best in the state. He’s averaging 22.3 points per game this season and emerged as the new big star at Apple Valley. A school rich with them.
“I used to be all the way at the top standing up there and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhing’ at Tyus,” recalls Gary Jr. “And now that it’s my turn I hope the kids are ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ as well.”
As good as junior is, senior refuses to let basketball define his son. He insists on good grades, good behavior and time with family. Because — as he knows all too well, basketball isn’t forever.
“No matter how much this means to you there will be no more air in your ball,” says Gary Sr. “If your life is still surrounded by basketball after 30 or 40 years you’re doing something else. You’re not playing past 40.”
For now, Junior isn’t thinking 30 years ahead. He’s thinking of the near future and wanting to fill those shoes his dad once wore.
“When I see those shoe boxes and I hear these schools I know work hard today and those schools can be in your future,” said Gary Jr.