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Rethinking it, with Trey Maultsby
Sara Courtney

This story is part of a series called Seniors On the Move, which are intended to be a look back and a look ahead, while capturing a moment in time. If you know of a senior you think should be featured in this series, please email


This is a story about the unexpected.

First things first, Trey Maultsby is hard to catch.

My first email requesting an interview was sent back in early November. It went unanswered.

No fewer than 14 emails and several interview attempts later, I found myself sitting outside Hauser Auditorium when I got a response from Trey, a full 23 minutes after what was supposed to be the start of our interview. He was unbothered:

“Hello, sorry I missed the meeting time but I would love to meet up some time and talk.”

As luck would have it, I was still waiting, I explained, and could he swing by now? There was no reply, but 10 minutes later he approached with an impish grin.

So this was Trey Maultsby.


The subject of our interview was to be a brief discussion on him reaching 1,000 points in high school basketball—an achievement Boys’ Varsity Basketball Head Coach Jason Murdock later explained to me Trey had accomplished in three years instead of the usual four. When I mentioned I had trouble securing an interview with Trey, Coach Murdock gave a knowing smile and promptly stood up and went searching for him in the senior area, without luck. A similar reaction occurred when I told Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing Emily Cooke, with her casually mentioning that during last year’s Spring Intensive, they reconsidered their trip into New York City out of genuine concern they might lose Trey and his seemingly wandering spirit. There seemed to be a lack of surprise that I was having trouble catching him for the interview, coupled with a genuine affection for his personality. He was very funny, I’d been told, often from someone shaking their head in spite of themselves. It took a while to secure the interview, but once here, Trey was ready to talk, so we dove right in.

What drove him as a competitor?

“What I do is, every single time I step on the court,” he explains with a mixture of confidence and perhaps just a twinge of self consciousness, “I tell myself that I’m the best player on the court. I know that sounds like a cocky thing to say, and obviously some of the time it’s not true at all. But I just like to tell myself that. I can do this.”

Trey is extremely competitive and plays with a blend of intensity and focused calm. When pressed to explain what motivates him, he doesn’t hesitate. “I just love the sport.” He briefly played soccer when he was younger, but it was basketball that he was good at, so it was basketball that meant the most to him.

“It was my dad’s favorite sport,” he says. “He always stuck a basketball in my hands. There are videos of me before I could walk [but I’m] dribbling a basketball. As long as I’ve been alive, I could play basketball.” He pauses here and reflects quietly, before going back to his dad. “It’s also a way for me to connect with my dad. Playing AAU, driving to tournaments together… I spent a lot of time with him through basketball.”

“It’s just always been the sport for me,” he adds emphatically. “And,”—here appears that mischievous grin—“I was always a little bit better at it than the people around me.”

The interview was drawing to a close. He has a lot of good friends, and a lot of great memories, and is looking forward to studying finance at Wake Forest University. He is asked how he would like to be remembered, and that bemused smile drops from his face as he ponders the thought. “Somebody who is a good friend,” he says slowly. “Somebody who always had a smile on their face. Someone you could always talk to. I think that’s important. Somebody who is always on your side…. You could always reach out to me. I’ll be there for you. I’ll help out if you ever need a hand.”

I was on the verge of wrapping things up, yet it seemed Trey had something on his mind. Perhaps this was the reason for his candid reflection, as he looked back on his time at Pingry and mentioned, with a surprising candor that caught me off guard, “The teacher I’m closest to is definitely Mr. Composto. He’s a middle school teacher,” he explained, and then paused.

“He literally changed my life.”


This is the point where the interview took an unexpected turn:

Ms. Courtney: Wait, why?

Trey: Because I was an awful human being in middle school. 

Ms. Courtney: Wait, what? 

Trey: I was a mess up. My grades were awful. I got in trouble every single day. Yeah, I was a terrible human being. I didn't care about anything.

Ms. Courtney: Did you go to school here?

Trey: Yah. Like in April of seventh grade, I had straight Cs. I had seven detentions in one month.

Ms. Courtney: Well, this is amazing.


Middle School English Teacher Matt Composto was just starting at Pingry when he met a then–seventh-grade Trey. He would have him in his advisory group, along with being his teacher and basketball coach. He estimates seeing Trey “three or four times a day, given the Middle School schedule.”

Trey was a funny kid, and, like many middle schoolers, he had his lively moments that occasionally drew the ire of one or two broken rules. Mr. Composto saw past that boisterous exterior. “The more I got to talk with Trey,” he says, “the more I saw how much of a façade that really was.”

Throughout Grades 6 and 7, a few of those lively moments turned into a trip or two to the Dean’s office, and, as sometimes happens, Trey felt a perception around himself building, one that he couldn’t tell if he was playing into, or capable of outrunning. For a kid, these things can snowball fast. Could he live it down?

“I don’t know why, but I literally didn’t care about anything,” he recalls. “It’s a middle school thing. Trying to be a rebel, I guess.” It was during one particularly challenging stretch that his parents had a talk with him. “My parents sat down with me and [said], ‘Listen. If you get one more detention, you’re done.’”

Mr. Composto had countless conversations with him, and soon, something began to change: his perception of himself.

“He really brought me under his wing,” Trey says of Mr. Composto. “He knew me in seventh grade because he was also my basketball coach, so we connected on every level…. I had so many talks with him.” It didn’t seem to matter what hiccup with authority Trey found himself in because for Mr. Composto, “I saw the good in him.”

“I never saw him that way. And I didn’t hide that fact when I talked to him,” recalls Mr. Composto. “I set out with him pretty early in eighth grade. I said, ‘Listen. We’re going to get to know each other really, really well in class, and advisory, and coaching. And I want you to know that I believe in you for a lot of reasons. I see a lot of good in you. There are a lot of things that you can do really, really well. And I can also tell even in moments where you’re silly and you make a joke, I can tell you really care. And sometimes you might try to hide it and I understand why, but you do. You do really care.”

And then, as is often the case with Trey, something unexpected happened.

“At the start of eighth grade,” says Mr. Composto, “when I had him in advisory, he said to me at the beginning of the year, ‘There’s a new motto: new year, new me’. I still remember him saying that,” he says with a smile. “One of the things that I like and respect the most about Trey is his self awareness and how genuine he is. And I saw that in middle school, even in moments where he was getting in trouble. I could see underneath, the part that was hiding, how reflective he actually is. And in some ways how sensitive he can be. That’s especially true if you’re a middle school boy. That’s not something you want to show in a lot of cases.”

Mr. Composto and Trey used to play one-on-one against each other. “It was always a challenge,” he recalls. “‘Can you beat the teacher?’ kind of thing. He was such a good sport about it.” The teacher and his former student are still close, but a lot has changed. “The tables have definitely turned,” he laughs as he recalls the last time they played basketball together. “He was going easy on me, I could tell.” They might not see each other three or four times a day anymore, but the bond is still there. “So we definitely still keep in touch, and I really value that. Like when I found out he had gotten into college, that was a really nice conversation to get to have. To congratulate him and think back to, ‘Remember your eighth-grade self and that conversation? Look at where we are now.’”

In the spring of Grade 8, in the midst of Covid and remote learning, Mr. Composto had his students do their final conference by video. He was struck by Trey’s honesty.

“He took it so seriously,” he says. “To me it was inspirational…. A rainbow after the rain.”



The video begins with an eighth-grade Trey seated alone at a desk, looking straight into the camera, a slight grin on his face:

Hello to my younger self, who’s just beginning sixth grade, and to my older self who is watching back on this video. I have gone through many ups and downs throughout my middle school life and it has been very challenging, but—[at this he beats his chest with his fist]—I pulled through and I’m on my way to high school.

Sixth and seventh grade weren’t what I wanted them to be, and in some cases it was a train wreck. But I truly worked hard in eighth grade to become a better person and I feel like I have partially accomplished that goal. But there’s still more work. It’s not over.

There are a lot of people along the way that helped me out. Including you, Mr. Composto. Big respect to you. I know it took a lot of patience for you to help me through some times and you had to be frustrated with me on many occasions but you still helped me through it all.

To the sixth-grade me, I will tell myself to not worry about mistakes. I’ve been worrying about mistakes my whole life. Like I worry about my work and I really shouldn’t. It’s a waste of time. Making mistakes is inevitable. And I know for me, hearing that, it sounds cliché but um, I don’t know, I spent too much time worrying. And also, just don’t get caught up in the mess ups…

Same thing goes for the high school me, the college [me], [the] college dropout, skipped college, went straight to the NBA, #1 in the draft, maybe adulthood me: just don’t linger on mistakes you’ve made.

Keep on.

Peace out.


Now the interview really was wrapping up. When asked if he planned to play basketball beyond high school, he responds casually at first.

“Well, I’m definitely going to play club,” he says, before his voice takes on a sudden steely focus. “But I’m going to try to walk onto the team [at Wake Forest]. Which is a little bit of a stretch. It’s a reach for me. But—I think I have a chance.”

It seems clear that Trey is determined to be unexpected wherever he goes.

“Why not?” he asks. “Why not try out?”

All he has to do is quietly tell himself he is the best player there, the way he’s been doing every time he steps out onto the court, for as long as he can remember.

“Exactly,” he says, and that smile returns.

“We’ll see how it all goes.”




Portrait by Flex photographer Aiden de Asla '24


To contact the author: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer