Monday, February 22, 2016

Cothran Creates His Own Path To Opportunity

For one fleeting moment, Keshaun Cothran seemed paralyzed by panic. Recalling it now, Cothran said he felt shockwaves emanate from his body that late May 2012 evening.

It was a lot to grasp in a short period of time. Cothran remembers the frantic phone call he received from his little sister, Shaniya Harris. He recalls her shaky voice as she told him that their brother, Keith Cothran, had been shot.

He remembers the hyperventilation before a few controlled breaths snapped him back to normal. At the moment, Cothran's thoughts were corrupted by a quick-rising fear of the unknown.

Keshaun Cothran's fears would eventually die down. Though a bullet grazed Keith Cothran's head, the former Hillhouse and University of Rhode Island star emerged from the chilling event unscathed.

"My initial reaction to it was just the thought of losing my brother," said Keshaun Cothran, who noted the shooting occurred the night before his senior prom.

"At that point in life Keith and I were becoming a lot closer both personally and athletically. The fact that my life was changing so quickly, the thought of someone that important to me not being here left me so confused. When I first got the call all I could think of was 'where,' 'why' and 'who?'

These questions remain unanswered, as do any lingering questions on whether it was in relation to the killing of Cothran's cousin, standout Hamden High guard T.J. Mathis.

For one, Keith Cothran had been very much a pillar for New Haven's struggling inner city. He was the one who made it out, a glimmer of hope and promise in a land plagued by the trife life of gangs and drugs.

 It was Cothran who overcame adverse circumstances to earn a college degree at aforementioned Rhode Island, where he starred as an electrifying guard on both sides of the court.

"Truthfully, I think it was just another inner city Tale," said Keshaun, who like his older brother is a scoring threat laced with boundless defensive energy.

"They see someone shining and doing good things and they get envious. My first concern was the who, where, and why factor of it all. Whoever did it, they need to be held responsible."

Cothran is responsible for his current transformation as a player. He's cut baby fat and transferred it into muscle, becoming more controlled and more of a creative guard.

"I've grown physically the past two years by over a solid 25 pounds," said Cothran.

"I define my game as a bucket. A few years back, I was definitely viewed as a ball hog to some people.” 

Cothran continued,with a description of his now adapted all around game. 

The truth was, I was simply too offensive minded. Basically, my game now is more mature. My assignment on most teams I've played on were always to be a primary ball handler, play great all-around defense, and provide instant offense."

And his older brother has taught him valuable lessons, both on the court and off it.

In a crime-infested city known to some as "money craving, Pistol waving New Haven, Keith Cothran's story is one of an inspirational journey-ride.

His professional career has included stops in Germany, Iceland, and Morocco.

"Keith's story is a simple tale of determination," said Keshaun, cognizant of the pressures and the cautionary tales that come with being a recruit out of New Haven.

"That's what he's passing on to me and others and that's the values of never stopping the grind and realizing that dreams are possible."

 Emerging into a well-built guard with the potential to dictate a game on both ends has enabled Keshaun to do just that. Though his journey wasn't as frenetic as his brother's, several speed bumps have surfaced along the route.

Following high school, Cothran only received interest from the Division-III level. Believing he was capable of more, he opted for the prep route. Initially, all signs pointed to Cothran attending Westminister Prep in Simsbury.

"I was being recruited by New Haven native and former Wilbur Cross standout David Pringle who was the assistant coach that year," Cothran said.

"His mission was to bring in inner city talent to better the program," said Cothran. "The school's administration didn't agree (with Pringle's ideology) and chose not to fund the tuition money for me."

Cothran faced another roadblock in 2012, when he was rendered ineligible at Rhode Island College. What followed was a campus-to-campus journey that included stops at Dean College (Mass.), Gateway, and most recently the Community College of Rhode Island.

The twists and turns are over. With two years of eligibility remaining,  Cothran will choose between Rhode Island College, Southern Connecticut and CCSU, to name a few.

Southern, currently under the guidance Hamden native and ex-NBA forward Scott Burrell, is located smack in Cothran's backyard. 

Burrell, forever synonymous with UConn lore, has helped lead Southern to a scalding regular season. At RIC, however, Cothran will have the opportunity to earn go-to-guy minutes.