Trent Whiting came into this basketball season with bigger expectations, and so did his coach.
“We started Trent because we were looking for that third wheel in our scoring,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach George Ivory said. “I think Trent has the ability to be that guy. He just has to believe in himself.”
Coming right out of the gate, the 6-foot-7 sophomore swingman looked impressive. He scored 10 points against Morehouse and nine against Tuskegee during the Golden Lions’ season-opening trip to Atlanta.
“I was surprised because I came in and tried to work hard,” Whiting said about the early starts. He’s started five games so far this season, four more than in his freshman year.
“The coaches believe in me and I just have to have that same belief in myself,” he said.
That’s what Ivory is looking for in Whiting as UAPB (4-13, 2-3 SWAC) resumes action Saturday at Prairie View A&M and continues Monday at Texas Southern.
“We might insert him in the starting lineup this weekend because we’re looking for more of that scoring punch and the things he can do,” Ivory said. “We want him to believe in himself. It might be a change in the lineup.”
Whiting has cooled off offensively since UAPB’s 2-0 start. He only averages 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, but he’s still shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range (4 of 8).
It’s a little more production than he enjoyed as a freshman, averaging 1.3 points and 0.9 rebound. He went 0 for 7 from the arc.
“I felt as if I could make it last year, but I wasn’t shooting with confidence,” Whiting said. “Now, I’m doing a little better this season.”
The outside shooting wasn’t Whiting’s only point of emphasis during the offseason.
“It’s a lot more outside work, (including) ballhandling,” he said. “And it’s more attention to detail. It’s little bitty stuff I’ve got to pick up on.”
It’s all part of Whiting’s continued adjustment from being a Class 2A center at Des Arc, where he averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, according to his UAPB letter-of-intent announcement. He played in the same conference as current UAPB freshman walk-on Jordan Brown, who starred at Augusta.
“It was a lot different than this, playing 2A basketball,” Whiting said. “It was actually easier. I was averaging about 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds), but when I got here, it was a whole other level.”
UAPB coaches discovered Whiting while he was playing for the AAU Arkansas Hawks.
“I came down for a recruiting trip and they were just stand-up guys,” said Whiting, who also drew interests from Samford and Division II schools including Arkansas-Monticello.
As Whiting tries to improve his game as a Division I player, so must his confidence while taking on dual roles, Ivory said. The coach thinks Whiting can play the post but added he’s a better player on the wing.
“He’s a guy who needs to step up for us, even coming off the bench,” Ivory said.
No MRI yet on McIntyre
Ivory said an MRI on DeAndre McIntyre’s left knee had to be rescheduled from Wednesday, so the junior guard is still out indefinitely for now.
McIntyre injured the knee during Saturday’s loss to Southern. Ivory said the team trainer diagnosed the injury as a torn ACL.
The 6-foot-3 McIntyre, of Birmingham, Ala., transferred this season from Faulkner State Community College. He was averaging 5.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.