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Berkey found outside range

Column by RANDY HAMMERICKSEN

Suddenly, Trey can fire the trey.

And hit it.

Linfield College junior basketball player Trey Berkey has an ideal namefor a 3-point shooter in basketball. But until now, trey, a term for 3-pointfield goal shots, did not fit Berkey, 22, a former South Medford High Schoolplayer.

Things have changed.

Berkey, a rebounder and inside player for South Medford in 1993 and '94,has blossomed into an outside shooter. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Berkey saysall he needed was a chance to prove it.

I've always been a pretty good shooter, says Berkey, whonormally passed the ball to South Medford designated 3-point shooters ClasonWhitney and Mike Vanderhoff.

Berkey is expected to start at a wing position, along with former MazamaHigh player Travis Olson, on the 1997-98 Linfield team.

I've worked real hard on my shooting the last year, saysBerkey, who played football for Linfield in 1994 and 1995 but was forcedout of that sport by his fourth shoulder operation in two years.

Finally, the doctors told me it was time to give up football,says Berkey. The shoulder injuries were getting worse.

But he didn't want to see his athletic career end at age 20. After twoyears away from basketball, he did something about it.

I started working hard, says Berkey. I talked to theLinfield basketball coach (Larry Doty) and he encouraged me several timesto think about playing basketball.

With football out of his life, Berkey made the move.

I had been pretty burned out on basketball out of high school,says Berkey. But I felt I never reached my potential, and that alwaysbothered me.

Berkey was in the Linfield gymnasium to shoot early in the mornings beforeclasses. After that, it was on to the weight room to participate in mandatorylifting.

At first, I felt really uncomfortable back in basketball,says Berkey. My shot was way off and my timing was even worse. Butafter about six months, it all started coming back. I decided I would giveit a try.

Berkey was put on the Linfield junior varsity team at the start of the1996-97 season. But a 30-point outburst against Willamette changed things.

I didn't know it but coach Doty was at that game, hiding in theback of the gym so none of us could see him, says Berkey. Iplayed the best I had played since high school and he finally saw what Icould do. I had played horrible in practices most of the time.

After the game at Willamette, Berkey was elevated to the varsity. Hestarted 20 of the Wildcats' final 23 games at a wing position and averaged8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds a game. He shot 39 percent from 3-point range.

He was No. 2 in rebounding (99) and steals (25) and No. — in scoring.

I've never been known as a 3-point shooter until now, saysBerkey. I like the reputation because I always felt I could do it.

Berkey stole Olson's starting wing position early last season. Olsonwas the 1993 Southern Oregon Conference Player of the Year from Mazama.

Travis lost his confidence and nobody knew why, says Berkey.Little things started bothering him.

When I started playing pretty well, they put me in the startinglineup. I felt a little guilty taking his spot, but I was also happy becauseI was finally playing the way I can.

Doty says Berkey made an impressive transition to basketball after hisfootball career ended.

He would be in the gym every morning at 6 last spring working onhis shooting, says Doty. It got to the point where I would comein early and turn on the lights so he wouldn't have to come up and talkto me before he shot.

He's just a great kid. He's a deeply religious kid with a realstrong faith, and that drives him to do everything he does very well,says Doty. He plays very hard, and he's the kind of kid we want torecruit to Linfield.

Berkey will get a late start on the 1997-98 season at Linfield. He willtravel to Costa Rica and do an internship in his major, international business,at the University of Costa Rica.

While he's there, he will practice with the Costa Rica team.

I can't play, but I can practice with them, he says. I'veseen those guys play and they are pretty good. It should help me a lot justbeing able to practice with them.

Berkey will return to Linfield in time for the Wildcats' fourth gamein late November.

I'll be in shape and ready to play, he says. Hopefully,I will have improved. It should be a matter of getting back out there andgetting my job back real quick.

Doty hopes Berkey will regain his starting wing position quickly.

We are going to need him back as soon as he can get here,says Doty. But after the transition he made last year, I'm not tooworried about him getting back here and being able to play.

While in Costa Rica, Berkey will speak Spanish in business dealings whileworking for a company that has yet to be selected.

I wouldn't say I speak fluent Spanish, but I speak it well enoughto get by and get the experience I need during the day with the businessI'll be working with, he says. It's going to be a great experiencefor me.