Gary Trent Jr.
- Year: Freshman
- Height: 6-foot-6
- Position: Guard
- This year's stat line: 14.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 40.2 3PT%
- The Blue Zone's projected stat line: 12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.0 APG
Season breakdown: If there were any doubts that Trent would be an crucial player at the start of the Blue Devils' season, they were quelled from the get-go. Duke's only true 3-point threat for much of the season, Trent hit seven treys in the season's opening weekend to establish himself as a key offensive piece.
But the freshman then hit a bit of a roadblock—he spent much of nonconference play tweaking his shot form beyond the arc and he struggled to find any real consistency from downtown. That didn't last long, though, as Trent began a steady run in early December and scored double-figure points in 22 of the Blue Devils' 26 final games.
The highlight performances for the Columbus, Ohio, native were in a mid-January victory at Miami and a conference tournament loss to North Carolina. Against the Hurricanes, Trent dropped a career-high 30 points with 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point land, hitting a couple of huge shots to help Duke storm past Miami in the second half. And in Brooklyn, Trent knocked down a crucial triple with less than a minute left as he scored 22 and nearly helped the Blue Devils finish a massive comeback against their rivals.
Results relative to expectations: In almost every sense, Trent lived up to expectations. He was a consistent shooter and scorer, a slightly above average—but not elite—defender, and he started in all 37 of Duke's games this season, trailing only Grayson Allen in total minutes played.
The real question becomes what's next for the young guard. Two of his classmates have already announced their intentions to turn pro with Wendell Carter Jr. likely to soon follow, and the Blue Devils will bring in four of the seven top prospects in ESPN's 2018 recruiting class. Trent would almost certainly remain a starter on the 2018-19 squad , even if that meant bringing someone like Cameron Reddish off the Duke bench.
But how much can he improve? If the Blue Devils go with a 2-3 zone defense yet again, Trent won't get much of an opportunity to prove himself as the one-on-one defender he will need to be at the next level. If he stays, though, and Duke does go back to its usual man-to-man ways, Trent could have a big say in whether the Blue Devils make a deep March run in 2019.
Check back tomorrow for a review of Antonio Vrankovic's season. The Blue Zone has already reviewed Grayson Allen,Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Wendell Carter Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Jordan Goldwire, Trevon Duval and Justin Robinson's campaigns.
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A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak."