Catching up with former Illini Trent Meacham

Catching up with former Illini Trent Meacham

Former Illini Trent Meacham is back in Champaign following the end of his professional playing career and touched on a variety of subjects from basketball, both at Illinois and abroad:

What makes international basketball different than in the U.S.?

We had a game in the Euroleague, which is the top competition, and we're playing in Belgrade, Serbia, against a historic club called Partizan. We get to the gym two hours before the game, and we have a riot squad there protecting us. The gym is already packed. It's probably 90 percent men. It's smoky. Your bench has protection over it because they're throwing stuff on the court. It's unlike anything you experience here. There's an intimidation factor. I think we lost by 30.

How well were you able to keep up with the Illini during your pro career?

It's tougher in Europe when the games come on at 2 or 3 a.m. and I'd have a game the next day. I wasn't watching too many games live, but I followed the program pretty closely. It's been great to come back here. I've only attended just a handful of games in the last 10 years, but was able to go to the last two home games (of the season). That was just fun. Bring the family. The little kids, they loved it.

What do you miss now that you're a year into your basketball retirement?

That competition. You can't replace just being able to step on the court. I really don't miss just playing. I'm not a guy that wants to go play pick-up basketball all the time. But the preparation, being on a team, all the work that you put in, the hard practices and film — all that stuff — I miss that. I grew to really enjoy that over the years. That's tough knowing it's not coming back.