Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Turnback Tuesday: SK's Day

March 1, 2009:

A devout, lifelong St. John's fan, Jimmy Lorenzo finds himself frustrated at how the Johnnies struggle to keep local talent. It's not entirely on the coaching staff, he says. Homegrown talent tends to become enamored with the bigger name programs outside of the city rather than staying true to their home.

 While he understands that Norm Roberts and his staff have done a commendable job actively pursuing the city and country’s elite players, Hamptons legend Lorenzo says he’s waited far too long to revive the once prosperous program.

Lorenzo, the president of a Manhattan-based entertainment company, is a lifelong New Yorker and vividly recalls watching the late and legendary Malik Sealy, along with Chris Mullin light up MSG.

“Those were the days my friend, there were monstrous lines just to get into those games. And we were a real known high-profile program too. Remember the hilarious, classic scene in ‘Coming To America’ when Eddie Murphy is witnessing basketball for the first time in New York City? It’s no mistake that they chose a St. John’s game for the event. That just symbolizes what St. John's was at the time and what they meant to the city. They were, at that point, the toast of the town.”

"I'll tell you, it was better than going to see a Knick game. And allow me to remind you, the Knicks were actually good back then, bro! There were so many great players on those St.John's teams, watching the culture that Louie C created there was epic. They had the joint jumping. New York was buzzing."

Jimmy Lorenzo is also known as Jimmy Soul, the president of an entertainment company. He rose to local Long Island fame and fanfare from 1976-1996, when he was the legendary emcee “Jimmy Soul” at the Boardy Barn.

 And so Lorenzo's frustration probably compounded when Cincinnati-bound Sean Kilpatrick, an aggressive scorer and post-graduate player at the prestigious Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), opted out of his commitment to the Red Storm last spring.

Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard, was sold on Mick Cronin's program after narrowing his choices down to Cincinatti and Providence.  Kilpatrick averaged a team-best 26 points during his senior year at  White Plains, finally putting the program on the same plane as vaunted rival Mount Vernon.

At Notre Dame Prep, Kilpatrick has averaged 18.1 points while  refining other aspects of his game and improving in the classroom.  In high school, Kilpatrick was a key piece in a rich backcourt.

 During a stellar career, he played alongside David Boykin (Fairfield/Bridgeport), Jamell Cromartie, and the high-flying Ra’shad  James, long regarded as the most explosive and electrifying dunker in New York State.

Under Spencer Mayfield's system, which mandates that all of his scorers are defenders first, Kilpatrick’s game blossomed. He stole the show from Duke-commit Taylor King when Mater Dei played the Tigers at Pace University in 2007, a game which generated high expectations and hype. The Tigers lost in a wild game littered by calls that left White Plains exasperated, albeit Kilpatrick’s skill-set and value as a scorer was evident.

 Kilpatrick cemented his reputation as a player who could score in clusters with a 44-point outburst, though he struggled in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game (1-for-10, two points).

From iconic recruiting guru Tom Konchalski to the aforementioned Roberts, Kilpatrick lifted eyebrows as one of New York's top-shelf players. The only hurdle was academic issues.

So Kilpatrick trekked to Fitchburg, Mass. to better his classroom performance and also gain the invaluable experience of playing alongside high-profile recruits such as Johnnie Lacy and James Southerland. At Notre Dame Prep, with his classroom focus turned up several notches, Kilpatrick's  academic issues were no more.

 "At first, I wasn't really crazy about doing an extra year," said  Kilpatrick, sporting a Yankees fitted hat before an entourage of family and friends.

"You know thinking about it now, doing a prep year, it's not a bad  idea."

Since getting acclimated to the prep scene, basketball has been the easy part, as Kilpatrick is quick to note.

 "I'm a lot more focused on the books situation than I am the  basketball situation," said Kilpatrick, who maintains a solid relationship with Mick Cronin and speaks to the Bearcat coach regularly.

 "About once a week," said Kilpatrick.

 "SK" added that his team has plenty of depth and is comfortable featuring a different go-to option almost game. The way they gelled so rapidly has been impressive to Kilpatrick, who is from Yonkers originally.

Pure scorer though he is, Kilpatrick became a key distributor his PG year.

His increased ability to create plays should pay dividends for Bearcat Yancy Gates, whose shooting hovered around 50 percent his freshman year.

 "Sean's made a concentrated effort to get everybody involved," explained Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd.

 "That's why, I think more so than ever at this level, we have a group of kids who take pleasure in the other kids being successful. That starts obviously with Sean and the ability to get to the rim and draw people in. But with Sean, he's willing to give it up. You know, you'll see at this level a lot of kids are going to keep that (possession) and the result is they make a boneheaded play."

 Hurd continued, "That's where I think we kind of step ahead of some teams. These guys really want to play together."

And Kilpatrick really wants to play for Cronin.

"I know coming into Cincy my role is going to be as a scorer. Coach (Cronin) tells me to focus on what I'm doing now and just keep it up. Classes are going well." With 2009 graduation claiming high-scoring guard and 3-point sniper Deonta Vaughn, the Bearcats will likely envision Kilpatrick for the same role.