Five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. — at one time a UK recruiting target — was the highlight of Friday night’s session of the Marshall County Hoop Fest, finishing with 36 points for Prolific Prep (Calif.) in a 72-62 victory over UK signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamilton Heights (Tenn.).
Trent is already a member of Duke’s three-man recruiting class for 2017, which also includes five-star post player Wendell Carter and four-star guard Alex O’Connell but goes into the winter trailing Kentucky for the No. 1-ranked class in the country.
If Trent has his way, the Blue Devils will be at the top of those rankings by spring.
The exuberant high school senior mentioned Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox — two of UK’s top remaining targets — as players that he’s hoping will join him in Duke’s 2017 class.
Trent and Carter are well acquainted with both Bamba and Knox from USA Basketball events and the Nike travel circuit, where those four players have been among the best in the country over the past couple of years.
Bamba is a 7-footer from Harlem, N.Y., and Knox is a 6-9 forward from Tampa, Fla. They’re the two highest-ranked seniors on UK’s recruiting board, and both players visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness in October.
Duke is also among the favorites for the duo, and Trent says he talks to Bamba and Knox at least twice a month.
“(Bamba) loves everything about them, and they love him as well,” Trent told the Herald-Leader. “So I’m going to continue to stay in his ear. Wendell Carter is staying in his ear, as well. I’m going to continue to talk to Kevin Knox. I would say (Duke) is up there with, too, just as much as other schools. I’m going to keep talking to everybody. I just want to win a national championship. That’s the goal.”
UK or Duke has had the No. 1 recruiting class in every year since 2009
Achieving that goal will probably involve adding a top-flight point guard, too, and Duke is squarely in the mix with a couple of the best in the country. Trent didn’t omit their names when talking about his recruiting efforts to close out the 2017 class.
Trevon Duval — widely regarded as the No. 1 point guard in high school basketball — recently narrowed his list to five schools: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall. Since then, there’s been a run of pro-Duke picks on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page.
“I love everything about his game,” Trent said. “He’s the No. 1 point guard for a reason. He’s electrifying on the offensive end. He can guard any point guard. He’s quick, he’s athletic, he can shoot a little bit. There’s nothing to not like about him. He’s a wrecking force. It’s hard to stop him.”
Matt Coleman is a top-50 player and the starting point guard at Oak Hill Academy (Va.). He also played at the Marshall County Hoop Fest on Friday night, and he’s another Team USA and Nike summer circuit alum that Trent has gotten to know pretty well over the past few years.
“He’s a pass-first point guard” Trent said. “He tries to get his teammates involved, and he’s got a little flash to him. He’s got a little finesse to him. He’s great. He has certain swag and a certain way that he carries himself on the basketball court that I like.”
So, once again, it looks like another recruiting cycle that will come down to Kentucky and Duke battling it out for the No. 1 ranking. With players like Bamba and Knox not expected to announce college decisions for several more months, fans of both schools will have to wait to see who ends up where.
For the time being, Trent is content that he’ll at least get to play college ball alongside Carter, a close friend who he’s talked about teaming up with for years.
“It’s a blessing,” Trent said. “He’s going to take so much pressure off me. They’re not really going to be worrying about me as much as Wendell. He’s just such a dominant force. He can’t be stopped. Nobody can stop him. And I’m glad and I’m grateful that he decided to join the brotherhood of Duke basketball.”
Scout.com recruiting rankings for the class of 2017
- 1. Kentucky
- 2. UCLA
- 3. Arizona
- 4. Duke
- 5. Alabama