COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge senior Trey Millard is a multisport athlete. Nothing was going to change that.
In August, Millard committed to the University of Oklahoma to play football, putting into question whether he was going to rejoin the Rock Bridge basketball team in November. It isn’t uncommon for high school athletes to focus on only one sport once their path for the future is clear. An example that has drawn national attention recently is the high school football career of NBA superstar LeBron James.
Rock Bridge opens its season at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Norm Stewart Classic.
James was an all-state wide receiver in his sophomore and junior seasons in high school, but he dropped football his senior year when it became apparent he was destined for basketball stardom. James said he didn’t want to risk any injuries and that he needed to put his focus solely on basketball.
This wasn’t the path for Millard. He played both sports for the first three years in high school. Why should his senior year be different?
“I’m just a competitor, and I love to play,” Millard said. "I wouldn’t trade just working out to coming out here and playing (basketball) with these guys. It is way more fun with these guys.”
Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said he doesn’t see why future NCAA athletes think they need to quit other sports in high school once they commit. If playing high school sports makes a student happy, then why shouldn’t he or she play?
“You only live once, why not enjoy your high school years as much as you can?” Scanlon said. “Trey really enjoys playing basketball with these guys. He’s been our top defensive player, and he probably will be again (this season). Given the success he had last year, being a starter last year, why not come back and do the same thing and see what you can do again.”
Millard said he didn’t think twice about coming back, especially after the Bruins were a buzzer-beater short of making the state championship game last season. They finished third. He even thinks that basketball is going to get him in better shape than lifting weights on his own would.
“It is definitely a different kind of conditioning,” Millard said. “It is more continuous than football. You always get breaks in football between plays. This is definitely going to help work on my conditioning.”
Senior Rick Kreklow said he has been playing with Millard since third grade. He said that he never had a doubt that Millard was going to rejoin the team, and thinks that Millard is going to have a big impact on the Bruins’ success this season as the defensive specialist.
“Trey is a big body that is quick, and it is so hard to get around him,” Kreklow said. “For as long as I can remember, we’ve always been playing with each other or against each other, so its always good to have someone around that you have so much chemistry with. It is just one more person that you are comfortable playing with.”
Perhaps the only person on the team that thought the Bruins might not have Millard available in the paint this season was senior forward Logan Parks. Even his doubt just didn’t last long.
“I had a little bit of a doubt at first,” Parks said. “But I talked to Trey, and it was obvious. He was coming back.”
Millard said there is only one way he will see his senior season as a success.
“A state championship,” he said. “We should have won it last year, for sure. This year it is different being a senior, the last go-around, but I definitely think we’re talented enough, and if we work hard enough we can get there again.”