DeKALB - More than crossing the 1,000-point mark, more than his nearly 21 points per game, more than any other stat, Trenton Kyler said one thing about the abbreviated 2021 basketball season stood out to him above everything else.
The DeKalb senior point guard said the Barbs’ perfect run through the DuPage Valley Conference jumps out as his biggest accomplishment in a year full of personal and team milestones.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to do that, and it’s a huge accomplishment going 10-0 in the DVC, being 1,000-plus kids smaller,” Kyler said. “It’s fun playing in the DVC, having these dogfights and playing closer games. It means a lot to us, especially, two years in a row, winning it our first two years in it.”
Kyler averaged 20.9 points per game, shot 48% from 3-point range and the MVP of the conference this year. He was named the Daily Chronicle 2021 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
And with a free throw last month against Neuqua Valley, Kyler crossed over the 1,000-point mark for his career.
“It definitely feels good,” Kyler said. “Everybody was happy for me. It’s a really good accomplishment. One of the best feelings ever was hitting that, especially at home my senior season not knowing if I was going to have a senior season at all two weeks before the season started.”
Coach Mike Reynolds said it was indeed a strange year, with the season looking like it was going to start in October or November, then seeming like it would be held at all, then getting two weeks notice that it would be on.
And he said veteran senior leadership like Kyler provided helped greatly.
“He’s a lead-by-example guy, last year for sure, and did that again this year,” Reynolds said. “He even opened up more leading vocally. As a senior, he took a step that way. I’m really proud of the year we had. We had a lot of young guys, inexperienced guys, and he was the only starter coming back from the year before. He took it upon himself to lead these young guys and guide them through the tough times of the year. It was a crazy year.”
After winning the DVC last season, Kyler said the team was looking to repeat. ANd to do so, he said it was a team effort, pointing to forward Lane McVicar - who was also first-team all-conference - and point guard Martez Jackson - who broke into the starting midway through the year.
“The team I played with this year, no one expected us to do what we did,” Kyler said. “We came in with a chip on our shoulder. I feel like my teammates got me the ball, we all really came together. No one was forcing any shots. They all got me open looks, we got Lane open looks, Martez open looks, everybody played good this year. It was not just me. But I definitely had my jump shot going this year for sure.”
Reynolds said he feels Kyler left behind the mentality of going hard in every game and every practice no matter what.
“It’s whatever it takes to win a game or win a possession,” Reynolds said. “He did that on a daily basis. It didn’t matter if we were playing Waubonsie Valley or in a drill in practice. He went his hardest to try to win that possession or win that game. The one thing he leaves to the younger guys is every game and every possession counts.”
Kyler said he hopes the young team - there were just two senior starters on the team, Kyler and Jamarcus Winters - can continue to develop.
“They learned a lot playing with us, especially me and Jamarcus,” Kyler said. “We had experience, we have four years of varsity experience. We definitely taught them a lot of things. Hoping they keep their heads on straight and just keep working. As a team, we put DeKalb basketball on the map. We’re a little more known after this year and hopefully the continue that next year, keep making DeKalb known as a basketball school.”
Kyler said he hasn’t figured out his college plans. He said he hasn’t even figured out if he’s going to play basketball or football - he’s a three-year varsity starter at quarterback for the Barbs.
He said he’s just trying to find the right fit for a school and will play whatever sport to go to whatever school that ends up being.
The Barbs were 18-0 going into their final game of the year against rival Sycamore. They had beaten the Spartans 10 straight, but lost - their only blemish of the year.
With all that the team accomplished, Kyler said while it stings, it’s not the defining moment of the season.
“There were just way too many positive things in the basketball season, it can’t take the season away from us,” Kyler said. “We cracked the top 10 in state rankings, we were 18-1, a lot of schools did not do that. 10-0 in the DVC, won the DVC. I could not have asked much more from us. At the end of the day we had a very good season I could not have asked for more from our team.”