UK Men's Basketball

Top basketball recruit Gary Trent Jr. getting close to cutting his list

Gary Trent Jr. talks UK, Duke, recruiting

Five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. talks about UK, Duke, Calipari, Team USA and more on his recruitment.
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Five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. talks about UK, Duke, Calipari, Team USA and more on his recruitment.

The leading scorer off of last summer’s Team USA U16 squad, Gary Trent Jr. will once again be counted on to carry a heavy load for the Americans this summer.

Trent — a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Apple Valley, Minn. — was one of the 12 players chosen Tuesday to represent Team USA at the FIBA U17 world championships in Spain later this month.

As expected, he’s been one of the steadiest players during training camp sessions over the past few days.

Already a gifted scorer — especially from outside — Trent said he’s been working on his ability to score from all three levels, while also concentrating on his rebounding and defense.

“I’m really trying to work on my all-around game,” he said. “Because I’m not a complete player yet, and I’m not a finished product yet.”

Trent’s recruitment hasn’t changed much in recent weeks.

He told the Herald-Leader that the schools contacting him the most have been UK, Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State, UCLA and Arizona, noting that Alabama has also been in regular contact.

Everything they have there is great. I love what they have going on there. They help players get to the next level.

Gary Trent Jr., five-star shooting guard on UK

Trent, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 8 recruit in the class of 2017, said he will cut his list to 5-7 schools after Nike’s Peach Jam finals next month and then concentrate on setting up some on-campus visits.

While no recruiting trips are set in stone, he does plan on attending Big Blue Madness in October for the second consecutive year.

Trent said he hears from UK’s coaches every once in a while, but the contact isn’t an “everyday thing,” and that’s fine with him.

“It’s enough to me,” he said. “I’m not one that needs to talk to somebody every day, so I’m good. … Everything they have there is great. I love what they have going on there. They help players get to the next level.”

Big week for Brown

Las Vegas native Troy Brown has been one of the standout players at Team USA camp over the past few days, partly because the versatile 6-6 guard has been knocking down his outside shots.

That’s important for a player who can do so many other things so well.

Brown has the ability to play multiple positions, including point guard, and his size, smarts and quickness make him a mismatch for opponents.

Scout.com ranks Brown as the No. 9 overall prospect in the class of 2017, but he told the Herald-Leader that he only heard from UK once, about a year ago.

Would he be interested in the Cats if they got into his recruitment late?

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “They make a lot of really good pros. And it’s not just based off of athleticism. You can tell that Coach Calipari develops their guys and understands who’s going where and who can do what. It’s a really good program.”

Brown listed Kansas, Oregon, Stanford, UNLV, Virginia, UCLA and California as some of the schools recruiting him the hardest.

Smart thinking

UK is already involved with Javonte Smart, who is ranked by Rivals and ESPN as the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2018.

Smart — a 6-4 prospect from Baton Rouge, La. — showed quite the competitive streak during Team USA practices this week.

“Here at USA Basketball, he’s done a good job of changing his speeds and playing at a good pace,” said Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. “This is the best he’s played all spring. He’s facilitating. He’s making good decisions with the ball. He’s finding and creating open shots for teammates. And he’s even made jump shots from three, which I wouldn’t have said was his strength coming in.

“He’s had a really strong showing here.”

Smart listed early scholarship offers from Alabama, Louisiana State, Texas, Texas A&M, UConn, Vanderbilt and a few others.

Final squad

The 12 players who will represent Team USA at the U17 world championships in Spain were announced Tuesday. They are Markus Howard from the class of 2016, Troy Brown, Wendell Carter, Jaren Jackson, Kevin Knox, Collin Sexton, Gary Trent Jr. and Austin Wiley from the class of 2017, and Jordan Brown, Carte’Are Gordon, Immanuel Quickley and Javonte Smart from the class of 2018.

Five-star forward Kevin Knox talks about his time with Team USA, his recruitment and what he likes about Kentucky.

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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