Former Duke basketball player making leap into lucrative stardom

Duke basketball’s list of NBA players with mega contracts should soon grow.

From an overlooked second-round pick to potentially securing a contract this offseason worth upwards of $20 million a year, former Duke basketball sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr. is becoming a young star many doubted he would be at the next level.

Trent spent one season in Durham before declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft. During his time with the Blue Devils, he averaged 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting an efficient 40.2 percent from three.

There were definitely ups and downs during his Duke basketball career, but one thing was certain: Trent can shoot the basketball. That was seen as the main highlight of his game, especially when turning pro.

But due to concerns regarding his playing style and even his defense, Trent fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round.

The start of Duke basketball alum Gary Trent Jr. proving all doubters wrong

Gary Trent Jr.’s rookie season wasn’t the greatest due to a lack of playing time. However, in his second year, the former five-star recruit showed the basketball world the caliber of player he can be in the league.

It was the 2020 bubble in Orlando where Trent started to show where all the hard work was going. During the eight regular-season games the Blazers played there, he averaged 16.9 points while shooting better than 50 percent both from the field and beyond the arc.

Carrying that success into the 2020-21 season, Trent began showing strides on defense after being stamped a poor defender when coming out of college.

Portland then traded him in March to the Toronto Raptors for Norman Powell, which could prove to be the best thing to happen for Trent’s career. The Raptors are known for their ability to develop players — from Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell, the list goes on and on.

Within half a season, it was evident that Trent was becoming a top weapon in Toronto.

The 6-foot-5 forward would go on to average 16.2 points and 3.6 rebounds during the remainder of the season with the Raptors. Trent’s highlights included a game-winner at the buzzer against the Washington Wizards and even a ridiculous 44-point performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers while shooting an unfathomable 90 percent (17-for-19) from the field.

He has only improved with each season in the league, and it seems the Minnesota native has found a home in Toronto. He has praised the city and fanbase. Now, Trent appears likely to return due to the fact he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Raptors have the ability to match any offer made to him.

Trent continues to add more dimensions to his game, which is why he can be a star in the NBA. He is more than a spot-up shooter, which he has already shown in Toronto. The next step is to become a more efficient playmaker. He was getting the opportunities, but there were many games where he wasn’t able to find the bottom of the net.

With his frame and athletic prowess, there’s no telling how productive Trent can become.

Duke basketball fans recently saw former one-and-done star Brandon Ingram win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 2020. Gary Trent Jr. could be the next Blue Devil to receive that honor.