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Trey Garey NLI signing

Kimberly senior Trey Garey (center) signs his letter of intent to play at Pacific Lutheran University as his parents watch Wednesday at Kimberly High School.

KIMBERLY — After leading the Kimberly High School boys basketball team to the 3A state title game, Trey Garey is ready to take the next step in his playing career.

Garey signed his National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for Pacific Lutheran University on Wednesday.

He committed to Pacific Lutheran in January, but made it official on Wednesday, the first day of college basketball’s regular signing period.

Two weeks prior to his announcement, Garey visited the Tacoma, Wash., college with his dad, Daren Garey, who coaches the Kimberly boys basketball team, and his grandfather. The trio watched a couple of games, then met the coaching staff.

Trey was impressed by the coaches, especially head coach Chad Murray, who Trey said has showed a lot of interest in him alongside Pacific Lutheran’s other coaches.

“They text me three or four times a week still,” he said. “They’re putting effort into me personally.”

The weekend of his visit, Trey stayed overnight with two of the basketball players and said the team had a good dynamic off the court.

“Any time you’re in a team situation like that, you’re going to bond quite a bit,” he said. “I felt like the guys were like that.”

Daren said Pacific Lutheran was a “really neat fit” for Trey.

“They’ve got a new coaching staff, and as far as what they’re trying to build, they wanted a kid who’d been around a lot of basketball, had a lot of knowledge, looking for a point guard,” Daren said.

Pacific Lutheran competes in Division III of the NCAA in the Northwest Conference, composed of nine teams in Oregon and Washington. The team went 4-20 last season in Murray’s first year at the helm, but Daren said he’s expecting an upward trend for the program as they try to compete against strong conference foes like Whitman and Whitworth.

“That’s kind of what coach Murray is striving for, as far as setting the bar, is competing with those two schools,” he said.

All of Trey’s decision-making came during Kimberly’s run to the 3A state title game, where the Bulldogs fell to Fruitland behind a tough shooting performance. Daren said that Trey’s leadership showed in that process.

“(Trey) wanted to get that process over kind of early,” Daren said. “He didn’t want to have it be a distraction during the season.”

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Even though the high school finale didn’t end the way Trey had envisioned, he said he only has fond memories of his time as a Bulldog.

“I don’t think I would change anything about that journey,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t play very well in that (state title) game, (but) I enjoyed every minute of it all.”

Daren said this moment is a special one as both a coach and a dad, especially given all the work his son has put in since an early age.

“This is something he’s been working towards a long time,” Daren said. “He’s been at practices since he was 2 or 3 years old. It’s just neat to watch unfold.”

Now Trey will have to deal with the most difficult problem stemming from his decision: figuring out what a Lute, the Pacific Lutheran mascot, actually is.

“I definitely had to look up what Lute was,” he said. “I didn’t find anything. I saw it was like an old-fashioned guitar, but that’s not it. I think they just made it up.

“It’s a Lutheran, maybe a Fighting Lutheran.”

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