A String of Golden Moments for Junior
Sundays in July for sports activities info administrators are as mellow as they arrive.
For me, I’m sometimes hooking golf balls into timber, constructing lego constructions with my kiddos and spending far an excessive amount of time looking for one thing to observe on Netflix. On high of that, there’s the Sunday custom of getting dinner at my dad and mom home.
Principally, something and every part non-work associated. As a result of it’s the offseason in any case.
Not on July 11 although.
That exact day will go down as my busiest summer season workday ever (and will very properly crack my high 10 busiest in my 9 years of selling Louisiana Tech Athletics).
Why you ask? Due to one man. One zero-star basketball recruit with an excessive amount of child fats for some packages that over the course of a freshman 12 months in Ruston as a Bulldog (and one worldwide event), become a World Phenom.
Kenneth Lofton, Jr.
Because the SID for the LA Tech Males’s Basketball program, typically instances the primary query colleagues and media memebers ask me about Junior … Is he kin to the six-time Main League Baseball All-Star, Kenny Lofton?
I reply with a small chuckle and a fast no.
The following query … How does he do the issues he does at his dimension?
I are likely to shrug my shoulders at this one as a result of I too do not know.
For 32 video games this previous season, I received a entrance row seat to the 6-foot-7, 275-pound energy ahead – sturdy emphasis on the ability – with Kung Fu Panda fingers and ballerina ft.
He by no means simply referred to as for the basketball within the submit … he demanded it. He would dimension up his defender, deciding which of 100 low-post strikes he wished to attain with. He carved out area along with his huge physique and used his unimaginable contact and really feel across the hoop. He was tenacious on the glass, a easy passer out of the block and a sneaky-good defender.
Each time he touched the rock, I’d get on the sting of my seat, refusing to get distracted by my environment as a result of I knew one thing might very properly occur that I’ve by no means seen earlier than.
And that’s Junior.
My favourite reminiscences of his freshman 12 months embrace the next (in chronological order) –
1 – Wowing these purple and gold of us in Baton Rouge after dropping a double-double IN THE FIRST HALF.
2 – Getting switched onto North Texas’ star level guard Javion Hamlet (former C-USA Participant of the Yr) and locking him up defensively on the perimeter.
3 – Seeing him outduel UAB’s 7-foot switch from Clemson Trey Jemison within the TAC with a 21-point, 12-rebound efficiency.
4 – Dealing with up his Ole Miss defender on the baseline earlier than hitting him with the crossover and the blow-by.
5 – Deflecting a move to WKU’s All-American heart Charles Bassey solely to depart him in his mud as he broke away for the fastbreak, rim-rockin’ slam.
6 – And naturally, taking up three defenders as he knifed by the lane for the game-winning bucket to defeat Colorado State within the NIT comfort sport.
Now let’s circle again to July 11 after I added my seventh favourite second of Junior’s.
As a substitute of being there reside for this one, I used to be pacing in my lounge, anxiously carrying down my fingernails as I watched Junior and Crew USA battle France within the finals of the FIBA U19 World Cup held throughout the pond in Latvia.
And it was a BATTLE.
With the USA’s again towards the ropes, and whereas enjoying on a crew with the highest highschool recruit within the nation and enjoying towards one of many high worldwide recruits (who was 7-foot-2 by the best way), Junior stole the present.
The Everyman, but once more, become Superman. Solely this time the world was watching.
He recorded a team-high 16 factors (15 within the second half) to associate with seven rebounds, two assists and one steal within the 83-81 come-from-behind victory.
It was the ultimate two-plus minutes of the sport that actually summed up Junior’s amazement. Up three, he flashed within the heart of the paint, acquired the move, then bullied his manner by his 245-pound defender for the bucket.
On France’s subsequent possession, Junior switched onto their quick-twitched level guard who most likely had no concept he was about to get his ball taken away by a few of the quickest fingers to ever come out of Port Arthur, Texas.
That deflection led to a fastbreak dunk for the USA. Then lastly, clinging to a two-point lead within the closing seconds, Junior outhustled each Frenchmen for a free ball rebound to assist run out the clock.
The low-post spotlight clips and the photographs of Junior donning a gold medal round his neck and his nation’s flag draped over his shoulders flooded the web.
The following hours had a NASCAR-like tempo for me, writing a narrative worthy of Junior’s golden efficiency. Posting movies and pictures at breakneck velocity whereas being glued to each social media channel. Retweeting and reposting all the notoriety coming his manner.
The thrill lasted lengthy into that Sunday night time, at the same time as I rewatched the sport as a result of it was THAT good.
That wall of accomplishments is filling up quick for Junior. Convention USA Freshman of the Yr. All-Convention USA. NIT All-Match Crew. Gold medalist (“And the actual MVP,” stated Chet Holmgren who was the precise MVP).
And oh by the best way, Junior has achieved all of this as an 18-year previous.
My largest accomplishment at 18 was changing a Nationwide Video right into a Blockbuster. Everyone knows how that turned out.