Killens makes the most of senior year on the basketball court
Abby Waechter | Staff Writer
Trey Killens has undergone a transformation.
From varsity benchwarmer a year ago, Killiens is now the Greater Miami Conference’s leading scorer and one of the most explosive offensive scorers in Mason Comets’ basketball history.
In middle school when the Mason High School coaches were watching middle school games to get a look at their potential high school prospects, Killens wasn’t on the court. His answer to the question about his presences on the court is a very short one. “I was cut,” Killens said.
Three years ago Killens played sparingly on the freshman team. Sophomore year he played on the junior varsity “B” team. Junior year he was a junior varsity player who periodically got to sit on the bench with the varsity team.
During his junior year Killens played the majority of his minutes on the junior varsity level and barely saw any varsity action, scoring a grand total of two points. Mason head coach Greg Richards saw potential in Killens. Richards believed he had tremendous ability but in order to harness all the potential, Killens would need to become more focused.
At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Killens received a few words of encouragement from Richards who told him to channel his competitive nature into his work — a gesture that sparked a ‘you can do this’ mentality which paved the way for the success of his current season.
Richards saw Killens’ potential since his freshman year and knew that his best games were just over the horizon but it was going to take some work and some maturing.
“Trey has grown so much in his four years with us, both physically and mentally,” Richards said. “What used to frustrate him before, he takes on as a challenge now.”
Killens’ evolution raised the eyebrows of many as the COVID-19 quarantine halted school, sports, practices, and social interactions. Those who returned to their various sports when restrictions were lifted were rusty and below par; Killens returned better than before.
The athlete who scored two varsity points during his junior season returned as a varsity starter and would play nearly every minute of every game. Not only did Killens play, but he became the league’s top scorer putting up impressive offensive numbers.
The key to it all: practice, determination and a little bit of competition.
While in lockdown, with workouts and opportunities to play AAU basketball games put on hold, Killens worked out on his own for nearly three hours a day. The habits he made for himself during a time of uncertainty allowed for him to later showcase the potential that his coaches knew he had since the beginning of his basketball career.
“He has put in the time and has worked extremely hard at developing into a nice player,” Richards said. “We knew he had the talent — we’ve seen it since his freshman year.”
At the start of quarantine, Killens’ practices and conditioning came to a halt when the gyms he had relied on shut down. To maintain his practice schedule, Killens went to Cincinnati so he could practice at his uncle’s gym where he had the opportunity to shoot for two to three hours everyday. On the days when he could not make the trip, he said that he simply “went outside and shot.”
According to Killens, his dedication to practice came from his father and the desire to pave the way for his own legacy. Trey’s father Terry Killens is a former professional linebacker who spent seven seasons playing in the National Football League for the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Junior year, Killens decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend the same high school as his father, Purcell Marian High School. A few months into his first semester, Killens realized that it would be best for him to return to Mason, where he could pursue his legacy out of the shadow of his accomplished father. Since his return, Killens has made every minute he has received on the basketball court worthwhile — he knew that transferring back to Mason made the likelihood of being able to participate in games slim.
“I regret the way I left when I transferred because I didn’t tell anyone, I just kind of left,” Killens said. “When I came back to Mason, I didn’t know if I would get another shot to play.”
He went so far as to admit that his motivating factor has been to gain recognition from his dad and to match his legacy. Killens carries himself humbly when it comes to his skills on the court even when he walks into class and finds his friends watching his replays; however, the remarks he receives from his dad after his games fill him with a special type of pride that encourages him to work harder.
Killens mentioned a post-game comment earlier in the season from his dad that was particularly special to him. When his dad quietly looked over at him with a proud grin on his face and said “good game,” the younger Killens felt an incredible sense of pride and the affirmation that his dad was not only proud of his son but also impressed with him made him even more confident and energized to work even harder on the court. It was a simple remark, yet one that has had an incredible influence on his unforgettable senior season.
Killens has worked his way up the chain of Mason basketball teams with his dedication to getting better. The determination to prove his potential to his coaches and dad has paid off. As the top scorer in the league, Killens wants to continue his offensive output but also wants to make sure he does it while helping his team win games. Killens has scored over 30 points in four games — in three of those games the Comets were victorious.
Killens admitted he has an extremely competitive side and a fire helps fuel him when he plays. He said this is one of the areas in which he has grown considerably because in the past that competitive fire could sometimes cause him to get distracted but now he has learned to channel it to energize his game.
“I can get a little mad at times,” Killens said. “I use that [anger] to control how I play the game and it’s been really good for me lately.”
A year ago he was a junior varsity player. Currently he sits atop the conference in scoring at 22.7 points per game, a lock to be a first team all conference performer, and a candidate for the conference’s player of the year. His scoring average has caught the attention of Mason competitors and now his play has gained the attention of college coaches. Killens would like to continue playing at the collegiate level and college coaches have not been shy in displaying their interest in his potential to play for them and the hot shot scoring guard is willing and eager for the opportunity to do so.
Killens believes he can play college basketball and he knows that has to continue working on his overall game in order to prove he belongs on a college roster. For now Killens said that one goal of his remains constant.
Graphic by Aadrija Biswas