Sean Kilpatrick's first roommate at Cincinnati is now in his fourth year in the NBA. And Lance Stephenson is off to a tremendous start averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and a team-leading 5.8 assists for the undefeated Indiana Pacers.
"We spoke the other night after the triple-double game that he had," Kilpatrick told me. "He's been telling me how focused he's been on just winning. That's something that's he's been harping on. He's been trying to enhance his game by just putting the team in the best position to win."
Sean is actually about eight months older than Stephenson and seriously considered leaving school after his junior year in hopes of joining Lance in the pro ranks. But Kilpatrick ultimately decided to return to UC for his senior season.
"It was very tough, but when you have a coaching
staff like we do and you have great parents on top of that, that makes things a
whole lot easier," said Kilpatrick. "It's
every kid's dream to try to go to the NBA and being able to fulfill your
dreams, but I really just focus on trying to get my degree now. That's something that will last forever - the
NBA won't. Coach has really talked to me
about putting things in perspective with my life. That's something that I really have to focus
on the most, and being able to come back here for my degree and being able to
accomplish what I want to accomplish with my teammates and coaches - that's
what means the most to me."
"Hopefully for him, he's going to have a tremendous season, lead his team to victories, shoot a high percentage, and have an All American-type season the way Steve Logan did his senior year," said head coach Mick Cronin. "That was probably the last great season that was had by a guard here at UC, and that would be a tremendous way to go out for him. I fully think that he's capable of doing it."
In Cincinnati's first four games, including two exhibitions, Kilpatrick has scored 20, 24, 22, and 21 points. But he isn't just scoring. After regular season wins over NC Central and NC State, Sean leads the team in assists (7) and steals (5), and has drilled 16-of-17 free throws. He's getting to the free throw line by relentlessly driving to the basket instead of settling for three-point shots.
"That's been a goal," Kilpatrick told me. "Coach has really been harping a lot on trying to get to the foul line a lot because the hand-check foul is in play now. I'm so much bigger than the guards that are going to be guarding me - they're going to have to foul me in some type of way. Being able to get to that foul line will put us in a better situation."
After playing for Team USA in the World University Games in Russia last summer, Kilpatrick is looking to go to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year as a Bearcat. But he's going to need help from teammates like Titus Rubles who's averaged 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in UC's first two games.
"It's funny because he is my roommate now," said Kilpatrick with a laugh. "He's worked so hard. He's deserves everything that he's getting right now. During the summer when I came back from Team USA, he was walking to the gym at one or two o'clock in the morning. I would ask where he was going and he was like, 'I'm going to get some shots up.' He's worked extremely hard and that's something that I'm proud of him for. He's one of the guys on the team that always has a chip on his shoulder, and I can compare myself to him because we look at things the exact same way."
The 'Cats are also counting on Justin Jackson to provide some offense this year after averaging 3.8 points as a junior.
"He knows how bad we need him," Kilpatrick said. "The 20 pounds that he put on helped us tremendously because now we're not afraid to throw the ball down to him anymore. We know that he can score at will because he's a lot faster and more athletic than the guys that are going to be guarding him. Being able to exploit that mismatch is something that helps us a lot."
If Kilpatrick scores as many points this year as he did as a junior, he'll finish his career as the second-leading scorer in school history behind Oscar Robertson. But his impact on the program can't be measured on the stat sheet.
"I have like a Top 5 or Top 10 list of guys that I've coached as an assistant that I have a relationship with," said assistant coach Darren Savino. "He's in that Top 10 in my mind as far as relationship and dealing with a guy. But as far as a leader? There's not a better leader that I've ever been around in all of my days as an assistant coach in 19 years of college basketball. That's Felipe Lopez, Adrian Griffin who played in the NBA for a long time, different guys from the different schools that I've worked at. SK is all about winning and he's all about toughness. For Coach Cronin, that's the best thing that you can have - a guy who is your best player but he's your hardest worker and he buys in to everything that you tell him that the program and the team needs and he's all for it. We're going to miss his scoring and his basketball stuff, but we can always replace that. You can always get another player that can do the basketball things, but as a person and a leader, that's going to be the biggest thing that the program will miss when he's gone."
Fortunately for Bearcats fans, that day is still more than four months away.
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After catching just three passes in each of the previous
two seasons, junior Shaq Washington has taken off this season with a team-high
The Maple Heights product has been an integral part of the offense under Brendon Kay by catching numerous short passes and extending them into long gains with his running talent.
At Maple Heights, he was a quarterback that led his team to the Division II title game twice, losing to Winton Woods in 2009 and defeating Trotwood Madison in 2010.
He is one of several Bearcats who have made the transition from high school quarterback to another position successfully. Of the current roster, tight end Tyler Cogswell was once a quarterback and Jordan Luallen and Munchie Legaux played other positions before transitioning back.
From last year's team, Travis Kelce came as a quarterback and eventually made it as a NFL tight end. From years gone by, Chad Plummer and Brent Petrus were both quarterbacks that finished their careers as receivers.
Here's the latest, No. 19 Mr. Washington:
By: Scott Springer
The Kingsgate Marriott was the host to Bearcat royalty Oct. 28 as the Legion of Excellence had their gathering and inductees into the James P. Kelly Athletic Hall of Fame were announced.
Among those going in were former Naismith Player of the Year Kenyon Martin and former UC quarterback Gino Guidugli. I was fortunate to cover the entire careers of both.
As for Martin, I first saw him in an AAU game at UC when he was a "man among boys" swatting shots down. He grew from a player that was somewhat shy around the media to a well-spoken senior by the time he left.
Sadly, I was in Memphis the afternoon he broke his leg and stood next to his locker after UC's conference tournament loss afterward when he knew his season was over. For a lesson in heart and soul, search for the UC/DePaul game in Chicago in 2000 and watch the final 10 minutes. I watched him live while covering Reds spring training in Sarasota and it still stands as one of the more improbable finishes ever.
As for Gino Guidugli, he easily is my favorite Bearcat from doing 14 years of football radio. From entering the game against Army in the second quarter in 2001 and pulling it out in his first college action, to walking off the field with him in Fort Worth in 2004 with his MVP trophy, he provided Bearcat fans with several memorable games.
Gino Guidugli's accomplishments were the building blocks for where the program stands now. Given a supporting cast, I would bet the ranch on him anytime in the final minutes of a game. Had he had access to some of the offenses that came after his career, it's hard to say what kind of numbers he would've posted.
Gino Guidugli in Brian Kelly's UC offense would probably have knocked out several lights in the scoreboard. I also was able to cover Ben Guidugli who continued the tradition of his brother in being a pleasurable interview.
It was a thrill and a half for me again be around guys that I covered in the peak of my career and it was fun seeing again so many folks that I don't get to see as much any more.
He may not quite have the following of "Hingle
McCringleberry" or "Fudge" of Key and Peele East/West College
Bowl fame, but UC's Silverberry Mouhon does have many appreciative fans.
The sophomore from Norcross, Georgia is the Bearcats' sack leader and leads the defensive line in tackles. No. 92 is a constant presence at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds from his defensive end position and hopes to spend considerable time in the SMU backfield this Saturday.
Mouhon was the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in his redshirt year of 2011 and will join all of the defensive ends returning next year as none of them are seniors. (UC will lose defensive tackles Mitch Meador, Adam Dempsey, Jordan Stepp and Marques Aiken.)
Here is the man with the best name in college football as we spoke just outside of the Bob Goin Team Room in the Lindner Center.