Gary Trent Sr. was a player who is not heavily remembered by many, but he showed year in and year out why he deserved to be part of the NBA.
High School Years
Trent attended Hamilton Township High School and played on the school’s basketball team. In his senior year, he set the national high school record for the highest field goal percentage in a season, 81.4%.
For college, Trent attended Ohio University, in his home state of Ohio.
He became a starter in his first year on the team as he started in all 27 games. He made an immediate impact as he averaged double digits in scoring. In his first year there, he put up 19.0 points per game (PPG), 9.3 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.7 assists per game (APG), 0.4 steals per game (SPG), and 1.0 blocks per game (BPG). The team finished with a conference record of 11-7, fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC), and didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament. They finished the season with a 14-13 record. Trent’s size and dominant style of play earned him the nickname “The Shaq of the MAC.” His impressive first season earned him the honor of being named to the All-MAC First-Team, as well as being named the MAC Player of the Year.
The following season all of Trent’s numbers improved substantially. He started in all but one of the 33 games played. He averaged 25.4 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1.6 BPG for the season. The Bobcats finished with a conference record of 14-4, first in their conference, and made the NCAA tournament. They entered the tournament as the No. 12 seed in the East Region but were promptly eliminated in the first round by the No.5 seed, Indiana University. They finished the season with a 25-8 record. As a result of his dominant season, Trent was again named to the All-MAC First Team and MAC Player of the Year.
In his third year at the University, his scoring dropped a bit but he still showed everybody why his nickname was “The Shaq of the MAC.” He started in 31 out of his 33 games played that season. His stat line for the season read as 22.9 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. The team finished second in their conference with a 13-5 conference record but missed out on the NCAA tournament. The Bobcats finished the season 24-10. For the third consecutive year, Trent was named onto the All-MAC First-Team and was named MAC Player of the Year.
Early Years in the NBA
Trent was selected 11th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1995 NBA Draft. He never suited up with the Bucks as he was traded to the Portland Trailblazers on draft night. He spent two and a half seasons with the Blazers and was part of the infamous jail blazers teams. He predominantly came off the bench in his time with the team. They made it to the playoffs in his two full seasons with the team but got eliminated in the first round both times. In his time with the Blazers he averaged 9.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.3 BPG. On February 13, 1998, his time on the Blazers came to an end when he was traded to the Toronto Raptors mid-season.
His time in Toronto was short, as he spent only half a season on the team. He started in 7 out of his 13 games played with the team and averaged 12.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in his short tenure there.
Welcome to Dallas
The 1998-99 season was the shortened lockout season. The season didn’t officially begin until early February and teams only played 50 regular season games instead of the usual 82.
On January 23, 1999, Trent signed as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks. His first year on the Mavericks was his best season in the NBA. He started in 23 out of his 45 games played in the season. He had his highest scoring season in the NBA, as he averaged 16.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.5 BPG. The Mavericks finished the season 19-31 and missed out on the playoffs as the 11th seed.
Injuries kept Trent out of the lineup for a majority of the 1999-00 season. He started in all 11 games he played but his numbers did go down from the previous season. He averaged 13.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.3 BPG His numbers began to decline from this season on, due to a combination of injuries and playing time. The Mavericks finished the season as the ninth seed in the Western Conference, with a 40-42 record, and ultimately missed out on the playoffs.
During the 2000-01 season, Trent got relegated back to a bench role as he started in only 4 of the 33 games he took part in. His numbers took a big dip as he averaged 4.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 0.2 BPG for the season. The Mavericks finished the season with a winning record of 53-29 and clinched a playoff spot as the fifth seed. Trent didn’t take part in any of Dallas’ playoff games, while the Mavericks made it all the way to the Western Conference Semifinals before getting eliminated.
Final Years in the NBA
During the 2001 offseason, Trent signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spent three seasons with the Wolves, coming off the bench for them. As part of the Wolves, he averaged 9.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.3 BPG. They made the playoffs in all three of his years on the team, the furthest they made it was the Western Conference Finals in his final year there.
Trent signed with the Chicago Bulls during the 2004 offseason but was waived by the team less than a month later. That would be his final stop in the NBA.
Trent’s best season came during his time with the Mavericks. Injuries hampered Trent’s time in Dallas and prevented him from showing everyone what his peak could’ve been like. He averaged 11.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.4 BPG during his time with the Mavs.
Life After the NBA
After finishing up his time in the NBA, Trent went overseas to continue his basketball career. He played for the Greek basketball club Panellinios during the 2004-05 season. He then played in 2005 with the Italian basketball club Pallacanestro Virtus Roma. He returned to Panellinios for the 2006-07 season, where he would finish his basketball career.
Later on, Trent became a cultural intervention specialist at Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota. As the cultural intervention specialist, he helped children dealing with school and at-home problems.
Trent has a son, Gary Trent Jr., who currently plays in the NBA on the Raptors.
On January 21, 2012, his No. 21 Bobcat jersey was retired by his alma mater, Ohio University. In 2013, he was inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame.
Trent’s best years came during the earlier years of playing the game he loves. Although he never became a superstar in the league, he contributed in any way possible to help his team succeed. Even though his prime years in the league were hampered by injuries, he made the best of a bad situation. Mavs fans got to see the prime version of Trent and all of the skills he brought with him. He’s continued to assist others in being the best versions of themselves, but now he’s doing it off the court, in his personal life.
Trent was one of those players whose intangibles were just as important as his basketball skills when it came to succeeding. Mavs fans remember Trent for what he brought to the team during his time in Dallas and for always giving his all to help the team succeed.