In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Ohio University great Gary Trent. The "Shaq of the MAC", Trent remains in the Top 5 in four major statistical categories at the school and he was also a three-time MAC Player of the Year.
Jon Teitel: Your nickname was "Shaq of the MAC". Who gave it to you, and how did you like it?
Gary Trent: I got it from a guy at Sports Illustrated who came to see me in a game where I had eight dunks. It fit me and my style of play.
JT: As a senior at Hamilton Township HS you set a national high school shooting record (81.4 FG%). Were you just that much better than everyone else or was the defense that bad?
GT: I did not have any moves so I played a lot of "bully ball" where I tried to get a high-percentage shot like a dunk or layup. I am surprised that it has not been broken.
JT: In 1993 you became the 1st player ever to win MAC Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors in the same season. How were you able to come in and be so successful so quickly?
GT: I worked hard and took advantage of the opportunity to play: my guys just believed in me.
JT: Coach Larry Hunter occasionally instituted the "Gary Trent Rule", which meant that your teammates could not shoot the ball until you touched it first. How often was the rule used, and what would your teammates do if you were double-teamed?
GT: The rule was not for me to shoot all the time. It was just used to play from the inside out. It was great for me and my teammates believed that it would help our team be successful. I was an unselfish player so it helped keep the defense balanced.
JT: In February 1994 you scored a career-high 46 points in a win over Bowling Green. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"?
GT: I was playing very hard, but only had 10 points at halftime.
1994 MAC tournament final
JT: This was the first time that your father got to see you on TV (he was a prisoner at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky). How excited was he to get to watch you play?
GT: I am sure he was excited. He went away when I was in middle school, but I mailed him a lot of articles about myself during high school.
JT: You had 22 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Miami (OH) en route to being named tournament MVP. How big a deal was it to beat your in-state rival, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterward?
GT: It was a great feeling. We had not had that level of success before. You can never have any ill feelings towards success unless you are a selfish person. It could have been anyone but it was great for TV that it was a rivalry game.
JT: What are your memories of the 1994 NCAA tournament (Trent had 18 points and 12 rebounds in loss to Indiana, who was led by Alan Henderson with 34 points and 13 rebounds on 14 of 21 shooting)?
GT: It was one of the few times where they had a 7-footer fronting me and another big guy behind me. We were young and Bobby Knight was a veteran coach with a good game plan.
JT: What are your memories of the 1994 preseason NIT title game (you had 33 points (12-12 FG) and 20 rebounds in a win over New Mexico State at MSG)?
GT: That was a beautiful night. We were playing in prime time at MSG on ESPN. The only two teams playing in the country at that time. We could not have had a bigger audience, and I played a dream game that really helped my stock with NBA scouts and fans that had never seen me play.
JT: What are your memories of the 1995 NIT (Andre Woolridge hit a jumper with 20 seconds left in a four-point Iowa win)?
GT: It was a tough game on the road, but it was part of our learning process. We just came up short.
JT: You were a three-time MAC Player of the Year (1993-1995). What did it mean to you to win such outstanding individual honors?
GT: A lot of it came from my teammates giving me the ball and our coaching staff believing in me and working hard in practice.
JT: In the summer of 1995 you were drafted 11th overall by Milwaukee (six spots behind Kevin Garnett), then immediately traded to Portland. How did it feel to be drafted, and how did it feel to be traded?
GT: It was great to be drafted, as it encompassed my body of hard work and a dream come true. The trade did not matter to me.
JT: What are your memories of Game 5 of the 1996 Western Conference first round with Portland (your team shot 33% from the field and had a 37-11 free throw disparity in a 102-64 loss to Utah, which set a record for fewest points in a playoff game)?
GT: It was exciting to be in the playoffs, but we knew what Stockton and Malone brought to the table.
JT: In Game 7 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals with Minnesota, Kevin Garnett had 32 points, 21 rebounds, five blocks and four steals on his birthday in a three-point win over Sacramento (the only guy to ever have 30+ points, 20+ rebounds and four-plus steals in a playoff game). Where does that rank among the greatest performances you have ever seen?
GT: Kevin is a very hard worker and a future Hall of Famer. I learned a lot from his mental approach, and he had a very high skill set for someone that tall. I have never seen anyone guard positions 1-5 due to his ability and passion.
JT: After retiring from the NBA you played in Greece and Italy. What did you learn from these experiences, and how does pro ball overseas compare to the NBA?
GT: Everything over there is a step behind, but it was great to live overseas, learn a new language, and have a new experience. I got to home-school my son.
JT: You got your degree in business management last summer and now work as an intervention specialist for an inner city elementary school in Minnesota. How do you like the job, and what do you hope to do in the future?
GT: I love working with children and giving them some understanding of life. The only thing I would rather do is be an NBA or college coach, but I love what I do now.
Trent is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in MAC history.
Akron: Joe Jakubick (1984) 2583 PTS (#1), 189 STL (#2), 50.9 FG% (#1), 3-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Ball State: Bonzi Wells (1998) 2485 PTS (#1), 843 REB (#4), 386 AST (#5), 347 STL (#1), 2-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Bowling Green: Antonio Daniels (1997) 1792 PTS (#4), 563 AST (#2), 162 STL (#5), All-American, conference POY
Buffalo: Turner Battle (2005) 1414 PTS (#5), 458 AST (#3), 170 STL (#5), 126 3PM (#4), All-American, conference POY
Central Michigan: Dan Majerle (1988) 2055 PTS (#2), 834 REB (#5), 171 STL (#3), 95 BLK (#5)
Eastern Michigan: Kennedy McIntosh (1971) 2219 PTS (#1), 1426 REB (#1), All-American
Kent State: Trevor Huffman (2002) 1820 PTS (#1), 520 AST (#3), 80.5 FT% (#4), 210 3PM (#1)
Miami (OH): Ron Harper (1986) 2377 PTS (#1), 1119 REB (#1), 287 STL (#1), 173 BLK (#1), 53.4 FG% (#3), All-American, 2-time conference POY
Northern Illinois: TJ Lux (2000) 1996 PTS (#1), 1110 REB (#1), 130 STL (#5), 156 BLK (#3)
Ohio: Gary Trent (1995) 2108 PTS (#3), 1050 REB (#2), 105 BLK (#5), 57.3 FG% (#3), All-American, 3-time conference POY
Toledo: Ken Epperson (1985) 2016 PTS (#1), 960 REB (#1), 55.5 FG% (#4)
Western Michigan: David Kool (2010) 2122 PTS (#1), 163 STL (#5), 231 3PM (#2), 89 FT% (#2), All-American, conference POY