By LARRY VAUGHT
Gary Trent is a former first-round NBA draft pick who now has a son, Gary Jr., playing for Duke. Zion Harmon is a freshman at Adair County High School who is ranked as one of the nation’s top players in his recruiting class and a future collegiate star.
Saturday the two will combine forces at the former Heath High School in McCracken County outside Paducah for a basketball player developmental seminar in conjunction with the Grind Session, a winter circuit of elite high school basketball events.
Mustang Madness will be going on at McCracken County High School from Thursday through Sunday and will have some of the nation’s top players, including sophomore Kyree Walker and junior Charles Bassey along with many others. The 6-6 Walker, an Arizona State commit, is the top rated point guard in his recruiting class and the 6-9 Bassey is one of the top five players in the 2019 recruiting class.
Trent’s son played in Grind Session events and Trent now works for the Grind Session in various capacities.
“I do consulting with parents as far as how to handle the recruiting process, how to handle the ACT, just anything that has to do with going to college or the pros,” Trent said. “I speak and consult. Sometimes I catch athletes and try to mentor them when I see them at tournaments or at the hotels.
“I do commentary for the national broadcast of games and do interviews with players and coaches. I love the stiff competition of the Grind Session. I love good matchups. I love to see prime time athletes and skilled kids going against each other.”
Trent will stress “education and hard work” to those at the clinic — and he welcomes players of any ages as well as parents/coaches.
“Obviously, the age of the participants dictates the level of conversation and what basketball work we do,” Trent, who played from 1995-2004 in the NBA and then more years overseas, said.
Harmon, who will play Sunday against Bowling Green — the team he helped win a state championship last season — will participate in drills as well as talk to participants. Harmon’s father, Mike, started the AAU program “God’s Glory.”
Grind Session director Dan Hudson believes kids of all ages will relate will to Harmon, who put on a dazzling performance in early December at the Marshall County Hoop Fest.
“He’s always willing to sign autographs or take pictures with anyone,” Hudson said. “It should make for a great event.”
Harmon is a major recruiting target for Kentucky even though coach John Calipari has yet to offer him a scholarship like plenty of other schools, including Tennessee and Vanderbilt, already have. Kansas has also yet to offer the 5-9 Harmon, but he’s made an unofficial visit there just like he has to Kentucky.
Trent’s son was recruited by Kentucky before picking Duke. He knows the recruiting pressure that the top athletes at Mustang Madness will feel. However, he also knows basketball might not be the best option for every youngster and would not be offended if a youngster left Saturday’s clinic deciding basketball is not for him.
“To me, it would still be a successful clinic if I gave another positive idea for a youngster to think about. If you don’t leave with a positive thought about something to pursue, then you will end up in something negative,” Trent said. “We are social creatures. We are all going to gravitate into some type of group. You want to introduce positive thoughts and positive resources to kids.”
He has three young sons — ages 9, 6 and 4. The two youngest will be with him Saturday.
“I want everyone to see there is no limit on when you can introduce a child to a sport,” Trent said. “They will be fully participating in drills. Everybody always wonders what age do I start my kid playing. You start him or her when they can handle a ball or crawl with a ball.”
He’s a believer in multiple sports for athletes, too. When Gary Trent Jr. was 6 years old, he was playing football and basketball. He played some soccer and ran track.
“I participated on all the coaching staffs my son played for until I got my own team,” Trent said. “I think it is good for kids to do multiple things. Maybe one sport and one (band) instrument. Some sports you can play year round but your life does not have to be consumed with sports. One sport, one instrument, chess club. Tap into as many things as possible to see what a child’s interests are. If you ask your kid what he or she wants to do, they don’t know unless you expose them to a lot of different things.”
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Saturday’s clinic will be at the former Heath High School (4330 Metropolis Lake Rd., West Paducah, 42086) from 9-11 a.m. CST.
To register contact the Grind Session (@thegrindsession) on Twitter.
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