Trent Whiting, The Journey Has Been Long, But It's Been Worth It

What a difference a few years can make.

Trent Whiting and the men's basketball team can only reminisce on the past few years and what has happened. Both Whiting and the entire BYU basketball team should be very happy with where they're at now, compared to where they were a few years ago.

Whiting, now a 6-1, 185, senior, can remember when Boise State wanted him to play for them out of high school. After the state tournament, they told him they lost track of their scholarships and no longer had one available.

Whiting remembers how Coach Rick Majerus wanted him to play at Utah, but wanted Whiting to walk-on, redshirt, and go on a mission first.

Whiting remembers the decision he made to play junior college ball instead, at Snow College.

Whiting will never forget how, after his mission, he nearly tore his hand off working on a grain combine in his hometown of Kuna, Idaho, just months before he was to leave for Snow.

Whiting also remembers finally going to play for the Utes while his wife, the former Amber Russell, was playing basketball at Weber State.

Whiting definitely remembers the hectic schedule they had at Utah, when his wife was commuting to Ogden, and he was driving to Salt Lake. Whiting remembers not being able to spend time with his wife.

Whiting can easily remember sitting out a year when he finally got to Utah, because of a rare disease in his legs that prevented him from playing.

Finally, Whiting remembers when he decided to sacrifice a year of eligibility to transfer to BYU.

But, perhaps the easiest thing to remember is how he recently scored 26 points to lead the Cougars to a 28-point win over last year's Mountain West Conference Champion, UNLV, on national television.

Or, hitting four of five three-pointers in the first half, to score 22 points in his BYU debut against Utah State.

Or, going five of eight on three-point shots against San Diego State. Or, leading the team in back-to-back blowouts of conference opponents.

He will probably remember this night, BYU versus Utah, his current team playing his former team. Again, he is on national television.

BYU basketball fans can't forget where their favorite college basketball team was a few years ago (although many wish they could forget)-the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference.

For both Whiting and BYU, it has taken some rough times to get things in order. But, by the looks of things so far, they are getting things right this season. BYU basketball is back where it should be-contending for a conference championship. Whiting is finally where he wants to be-making a significant contribution at a Division I school that is contending for a conference championship.

Whiting grew up with two brothers and two sisters. He was everything but a cheerleader at Kuna High School, where he played basketball, baseball, ran track, and quarterback of the football team. In fact, out of high school, he was recruited by Portland State to play football.

Whiting loved the game of basketball. He loved basketball so much that he didn't take Majerus' advice to redshirt a year before he left on his mission.

He wanted to play basketball.

In Whiting's encounters with Utah basketball, he met Jeff Judkins. Judkins told him to go play at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

"I went to the Utah basketball camp my sophomore and junior years," said Whiting. "I was the MVP both years so Jeff Judkins kept calling me. When I graduated, the Utah basketball team came to Boise and played Missouri in the NCAA tournament. They practiced at Borah High, and they had me bring them game film to see if they wanted to give me a scholarship because they needed a shooting guard. Majerus wanted me to walk on, redshirt a year, and then go on a mission. I told Jeff I didn't want to do that, so he told me to go see the head coach at Snow."

It wasn't exactly what Whiting wanted. He wanted to play Division I basketball, but, he didn't want to sit out a year. He liked Snow, and he liked the coach, Jeff's brother, Jon Judkins, so he went to play for the Badgers.

Whiting played one year, went on a mission to Porto Alegre, Brazil, then returned to Snow.

"It gave me a chance to get some experience under my belt," said Whiting of his experience at Snow. "And, my second year back, I met my wife. She was playing basketball at Snow."

Whiting did more than "get some experience under his belt" at the junior college level. He helped Snow post a 29-3 record and finish at No. 5 in the nation. Whiting was first team All-American and was one of three finalists for Junior College Player of the Year.

He then headed for the University of Utah.

"I went with the idea that we would have a good shot at getting pretty deep in the NCAA tournament," said Whiting. "When I went, it just didn't fit me. It wasn't me. The style of play and everything just didn't fit."

Part of the problem at Utah was that he hardly got to see his wife. Amber, an All-American Honorable Mention at Snow, was playing basketball at Weber State. With tough schedules, they didn't see that much of each other.

"It was really hard," said Trent. "She had to leave really early, and we both practiced at different times. We didn't see each other. Here, it's nice. We can go to lunch if we want."

When the time was right, the decision to come to BYU was not a difficult one.

"They (BYU) were playing really well," said Whiting. "I really liked Coach Cleveland when they were trying to recruit me from Snow. I told Cleveland if I had a change of plans, I wanted to talk to him."

Whiting did have a change of plans.

He came down with a rare condition that was just diagnosed within the last five years. It is a disease related to high-impact sports. His bone began to swell and the only remedy was rest-months of rest. So Whiting changed his plans.

"When I got hurt, I knew I wanted to talk to him (Coach Cleveland)," said Whiting. "Jeff (Judkins) was there. Everything fell into place."

Not only did it fall into place for Trent, but things worked out great for Amber too. She transferred to BYU with Trent and got a scholarship to play for the Cougars. Although she is not playing this year, BYU was happy to get Amber. She was team MVP both years at Snow. At Weber State, she had five games with with double figures, including 10 points in a loss to . . . BYU.

"My wife loves it down here," said Trent.

But, for the Whiting's, there's more to life than basketball-there's a family. Amber and Trent are expecting their first baby in August. Although this may put a twist on Amber's basketball career at BYU, they're excited to be parents.

And, once again, the Cougar faithful are excited to be basketball fans, as evidenced by the increase in attendance and noise at the home games.

As of the UNLV game, Whiting is leading the team in scoring with a 16.3 point-per-game average. He has scored in double figures in every game he has played since his December 16 debut, and he's shooting 40 percent from three-point land. Also, Whiting is not afraid to take the clutch shot, and he provides the type of leadership and style of play that compliments the rest the team.

The Cougars currently have the nation's 11th longest home winning streak, at 15 games. As of Whiting's last appearance at home, the Cougars are 8-2 since Whiting has started playing with the team (he had to sit out until December 16 because of NCAA transfer rules). Those two losses were to top-25 teams USC and Iowa State by single digits in Hawaii.

The Cougars are clicking. Whiting seems to provide that extra punch BYU needs to put them over the top and in the thick of the conference race. Before Whiting started playing, the Cougars must have felt like they were practicing with all their weapons, but playing without their most explosive one.

"I think we all compliment each other," said Whiting. "Terrell (Lyday) can shoot outside and so can I, but we wouldn't be able to if Mekeli (Wesley) wasn't such a presence inside. It makes people play us one-on-one."

So, BYU is back on the basketball scene. Trent Whiting is playing basketball. BYU basketball fans are happy. The only sad ending to this story may be that Whiting's skills will only be seen in Division I basketball for one year. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Whiting had to sit out one year after his decision to transfer to BYU before he could start playing, and he had to give up that year of eligibility.

Whiting can try and get back the year by going to court, but he's not worrying about that now.

Now, he is worrying about his old teammates-and not how he used to worry about them. Now, he is worrying about how to stop them, how to score on them, and how to defeat them-something BYU has not done in the Marriott Center since January 3, 1995.

Whiting still remembers the past. He still remembers the roller-coaster ride he went on that threw him off on the campus of Brigham Young University. But today, Whiting has forgotten all that. All Whiting can remember is that BYU is supposed to beat Utah in the Marriott Center.

Whitings Aren't The Only BYU Athletic Combo

While Trent Whiting and his wife, Amber, are an unusual duo of a husband-wife playing basketball for the same school.

There have been some unique combinations of a father who coaches at BYU the same time his child plays for the Cougars.

Current among these combinations are David Rose, an assistant men's basketball coach, and his daughter Chanell, a 6-0 sophomore on the women's basketball team.

"Amber (Whiting) and my daughter are good friends and that relationship helped me get to know Trent a lot better," says Rose.

"I'm fortunate she plays where I work so I can see her play." Chanell was also recruited by New Mexico, Hawai'i, and Weber State.

Coach Rose has been able to watch his daughter play in the four women's games that have preceded the men's games in Provo (UCLA, Northern Iowa, SMU, and Nebraska) and also at Southern Utah when he was in the middle of a recruiting trip. The BYU women's team often plays the same conference school on the same weekend as the Cougar men, just at opposite home and away sites.

"I know the film guy, so I can get tapes of all of her games," says Coach Rose.

Chanell lived away from the Rose home when she attended UVSC, but now lives at home with her Mom and Dad.

"I think she learned to appreciate a lot of things her Mom does for her," says Coach Rose.

Rose isn't the only current Cougar coach to have a child compete for BYU. Keith Russell, BYU's diving coach, has a son, Aaron, who earned both All-American and Academic All-American diving honors last season as a Cougar freshman. Aaron was recruited by Pitt and USC.

"It's a privilege and a challenge to live up to being a coach for your child," says Russell. "It's easier to be a coach to another athlete than it is to your own son."

Former BYU coaches Karl Tucker, men's golf, and Wayne Pearce, men's tennis, had sons who did not compete for the Cougars. Phillip Tucker went on to play for Cal-Santa Barbara. Brad Pearce, now an assistant BYU men's tennis coach, played at UCLA and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon. Brad's sister, Leslie Craig, played tennis for BYU in the early 1980s.

Other Cougar coaches who have had the honor of having a son on a BYU athletic team include:

* Coach LaVell Edwards, whose son Jimmy was a wide receiver on the football team, and son John ran track for BYU.

* Coach Roger Reid, whose sons Randy and Robbie both played on the basketball and baseball teams.

* Coach Tom Ramage, whose son Cory is a center on the football team, and another son John who was a linebacker.

* Former Coach Clarence Robison, whose son Mark (now BYU's head men's track coach) ran track for BYU. Mark's son Nathan, who is currently on a mission, also runs track for BYU.

* Coach Lance Reynolds, whose son Lance, Jr., (currently serving an LDS Church mission in Arkansas) signed to play football for BYU.

* Coach Vance Law, whose son Tim transferred from Dixie College and will play this season for BYU's baseball team. Vance and his brothers, Veldon and Vaughn, played baseball for the Cougars at different times when their father Vernon was an assistant BYU baseball coach. Vance and his brother Veryl also played basketball for BYU during this time.

* Coach Carl McGown, whose son Chris played volleyball at BYU.

* Former Coach Norm Chow of the football team had a son Carter, who played for BYU's men's tennis team.

* Former diving coach Rollie Bestor had a son John, who competed for BYU's track team and daughters Jill, who competed for the Cougar swimming team, and Carrie, who competed for the gymnastics team.

* Former Coach Wayne Young, whose son Guard and daughter Jessica later competed for the BYU gymnastics teams.