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Duke freshman having same growing pains as UK freshmen

Gary Trent Jr. found Duke fans in Kentucky last year at Marshall County Hoopfest but he eventually signed with Duke.  (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

PADUCAH — He was one of the nation’s top recruits last season and has played a significant role for Duke this season.

However, Gary Trent Jr. is having learning pains at Duke much like Kentucky’s talented freshmen — including several he’s friends with — are having. Just ask his father, former NBA player Gary Trent Sr.

“He is having a decent season,” Trent Sr. said. “He is still making the adjustment to college and figuring things out as he goes.”

The Duke freshman is averaging 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 38.3 percent from the field and 94.3 percent at the foul line. Duke is 13-1 going into Saturday night’s game against North Carolina State.

“The team is doing well but is struggling defensively at times, which is something that young teams usually do,” Trent Sr. said. “Young teams are going to do that at every level whether it is high school, college or even in the pros when you play rookies and it can get ugly.”

Sound familiar? Those are the things Kentucky coach John Calipari, who recruited Trent Jr., has been saying about his team all year.

Trent Sr. is in Paducah this weekend for McCracken County Mustang Madness and will put on a clinic with Glory Gear Productions Saturday from 9-11 a.m. CST at the former Heath High School.

Also speaking at the skills development clinic will be trainers Mike Harmon, Zalmico Harmon and Greg Keown along with Adair County freshman Zion Harmon, one of the top-ranked freshmen in the nation.

One message Trent Sr. will stress to youngsters will be to participate in more than just basketball.

“Gary (Jr.) was a great athlete as a kid. He always played football and basketball. He was faster than the average kid, so he played soccer and ran track,” Trent Sr. said. “My sister was a state track champion and Big Ten champ. The track genetics were there. He attended track meets as a kid and she would help him with his track. He eventually stuck to basketball but he tried everything. That’s what every athlete should do.”

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