It is that time of year again at Bacon Sports where we forget about the same two stories heading into the Super Bowl, and the world of college basketball begins to heat up. Say hello to our Average Joe who holds the high school record for field goal percentage in a year, had his own rules while destroying the MAC conference, and had one of the best nicknames in recent years, “The Shaq of the MAC” Gary Trent.
Known as a freak athlete, Gary Trent was a rare combination of size, speed, and strength, boasting a 45 inch vertical that bested two fine athletes and even better citizens – Shawn Kemp and Harold Miner (both 44 inch hops). Trent benched over 400 pounds in college, something that would take me or Kevin Durant four times to match. But what was most incredible during his amateur career came in his senior year of high school, where Trent shot an out of this planet national record 81.4% from the field! Yes, 81.4%! Word is that some guy named “Lucky” at Ohio University must have offered him a Lexus to come to school as a talent like that surely would have landed at a prestigious basketball school like Western University, right?
Playing for Ohio University, the Shaq of the Mac put up stats that probably would have been even better had he gone to a school that hated to party less than OU. He finished a three-year career as the only three-time MAC player of the year rocking 22.7 ppg and 11.3 rebounds per game, making even Average Joe Michael Cage shiver. Basically in layman’s terms, Gary Trent went hard in the paint from 1992-1995 in Athens. Throw in a MAC regular and postseason title and an NCAA appearance just to keep you honest and then it is time to get rich for a second time and head to the Association.
The best part of Trent’s collegiate career is what then coach Larry Hunter enforced the “Gary Trent Rule”. One could not shoot the ball on offense until Shaq of the Mac handled the ball because he always wanted the ball like Anna Nicole Smith. Hunter said you could just “throw it to the same area code” and he would go get it. Teammates would get upset at first because he would try to be all Larry Johnson and just turn and dunk, which was ok as long as he was thinking his UNLV and early Charlotte Hornet days and not when he used to lie on the floor with a towel over his head/back problems era.
Next place to conquer was the NBA, where Average Joe Trent used his 45 inch vertical and 500 pound bench press to land at number 11 with the Milwaukee Bucks and was immediately shipped to Portland for Shawn Respert. Even the Charlotte Hornets drafting Kobe Bryant and trading him for Vlade Divac think Milwaukee screwed up. Trent went on to amass purely Average Joe stats of 8.6 ppg and 4.5 rpg over 9 NBA seasons and then going overseas to Greece to carve up the Greek League like Dominque Wilkins. He did however throw in a career high of 16 points a night on the 1999 Dallas Mavericks. Impressive when you consider he did this playing alongside pure scorers Hubert Davis, Shawn Bradley and Hot Rod Williams, not to be confused with Hot Plate Williams.
Gary Trent had his number retired at Ohio University last January to the tune of 12,000 Bobcat fans at the Ohio Convocation Center. This was where Trent said he was “unstoppable”. If you bench 400+ pounds, hop higher than one of Sam Hurd’s clients, and shoot 81% in a season, I will go ahead and consider you unstoppable Gary. Next time you read about Ohio University at the top of a party school list, remember our Average Joe, the Shaq of the MAC Gary Trent who was a real mid-major before it was popular.