Remember those rumors about Sean Kilpatrick leaving
UC early for the NBA? Well, the All-Big
East guard says that he'll not only be back for his junior and senior seasons - he wishes he could stay even longer.
"As many years as I can stay," Sean told me. "I've never said that I was going to the draft - it isn't even in my mind. The college life that we're living now is something that is more important than the draft for me. The NBA is going to be there, but I still have a lot of learning to do. I still have to learn how to read defenses and on top of that, just to better myself.
"Another huge point is that I love Coach Cronin and I don't want to leave him. I want to stay here as long as I can. That's why I put it out there on Twitter to let everybody know that I'm not going anywhere."
Except to the gym.
After leading the Bearcats in scoring as a sophomore at 14.3 points a game, Kilpatrick is dedicating his off-season to improving his ball-handling ability.
"A lot of dribbling drills," said Kilpatrick. "Coach told me that I need to work on my left hand a lot more and be able to handle the pressure when someone is guarding me. He said, 'Don't concentrate on your jump shot so much - just worry about your handle.' That was one of my biggest weaknesses. This year it will be a lot different and I'll be able to get to the rim with my left hand."
During this part of the school year, the players are limited to two hours a week of on-court workouts with the coaching staff, but Sean puts in extra time on his own.
"I'm in here every day in order to get better," Kilpatrick told me. "I make it my business to be in here most of the time because this is the actual season for me. This is where everything starts.
"I come late at night. I have (graduate assistant) Scott Ratterman come open the gym up around 9 - 9:30. He just tells me to hit the lights when I'm done."
Kilpatrick's dedication is not going unrecognized. The Sporting News recently ranked Sean as the nation's sixth-best shooting guard (including number one in the Big East).
"It's an honor, but it made me a little bit hungrier," said Kilpatrick. "I know that I can keep pushing myself to where I can be better than sixth. I'm never satisfied with being below number one. It made me more focused on what I need to do."
And if he needs an additional push, Sean knows that he'll get it from Coach Cronin.
"He knows how to get me going," said Kilpatrick. "We both love winning and love the game so much. If we lose, just know that something is going to get thrown, or somebody is going to curse. I love him. Since I was in prep school, he's never changed with me or with any of the guys. The loyalty and respect that I have for him is amazing."
I asked Sean if there's anything about Coach Cronin that Bearcat fans don't know.
"Everyone thinks that he's mean," Sean said with a laugh. "That's because everyone sees Coach Cronin on the court and they don't know how he is off the court. He's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He's polite, he knows exactly what he's talking about every time, you can go to him for advice, and you can actually talk to him about anything. He's like a father figure to us when our dads aren't around. That's what I love about him the most."
It sure sounds like Kilpatrick plans to stick around.
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