The Fighting Illini mens basketball team finished up it’s season for the the second year in a row with a losing record. That can be disheartening to some, but for others, like Trent Frazier he sees growth and an abundance of talent ready to blossom in the seasons ahead.
I admire Trents work ethic and attitude. He sees a bigger picture and truly loves wearing the Orange and Blue. Its not a secret as to why he is a fan favorite. Sticking with the program through coaching change and roster attrition over the last couple seasons, more is on its way this spring. Trent is already preparing for next season, I caught up with him while he was home with family on spring break to discuss off-season plans, Brad Underwoods coaching style and his own leadership.
In his words with Trent Frazier
Illinois was extremely young last season, adding onto an already tough non conference schedule, success wasn’t in the cards. Playing in the nation’s toughest conference made it nearly impossible for a slow start to gain momentum. I asked Trent what he took from this season and how it can help this program in the future.
Trent told me “This season was about growth. Not just for us as individuals but as a team. It’s about getting better and being ready for next season. I am trusting the process.”
Minus Aaron Jordan the team lacked any real upperclassmen experience and leadership last season. Trent will be an upperclassmen and the second longest tenured Illini behind Kipper Nichols. I wanted to know how important being a leader was to him.
He said “I will be a leader, and I look forward to it. I will do an even better job than I did this season.”
Every player can improve in some area. What’s Trent focused on this spring and summer?
Trent said “I want to get better attacking and finishing at the basket, and getting an even quicker release on my jump shot.”
My final question seemed fitting. So much over the two years Brad Underwood has been head coach, people have voiced displeasure in Brad’s demeanor and expressions on the sideline towards his players. I see love and passion honestly, Aaron Jordans dad Rob told me he loves how Brad holds kids accountable. How Does Trent feel?
He told me “I am used to it, I know it will make me a better man and player. He will help me get to where I want to be.”
Many on social media felt Trent digressed this season. Well my friends, If you believe that, it’s just not factual. Yes, Trent started out blazing in non conference play but just because his numbers didn’t stay that elite all year isn’t taking a step back. Again, the Big Ten was the deepest and toughest conference in the country. These teams also know and see him play a lot more.
Trent’s scoring average went from 12.5 to 13.7 as well as free throw percentage up from 64 to 75. Add on top of all this, three point percentage jumping up six points from 34 to 40. That shows progression and by big margins in a year he was a focal point from start to finish to stop by the opposition. Trent also turned the ball over less and improved rebounding numbers as well. He will always be a guy on any given night that can give you 30 points, but what I saw this year was a guy who was willing to give “The man” status up to freshmen. He didnt have to take the final shot anymore and was able to trust his teammates and help create.
Trent landed on Sunday morning in Champaign after an early 5AM flight. The first thing he did after unpacking? Get in the gym with Giorgi Bezhanishvili and work. They are a hungry bunch and I know one thing is for certain, Trent Frazier is primed for a huge Junior season.