“Where are they now” is a series in which we at KSR get in contact with former players and ask them questions about their time at Kentucky, what they’ve been up to since they played, and find out about things they are currently involved in.
Allow me to take you back to the very beginning of Brandon Stockton’s basketball career. I am perfectly qualified to take you to that place because I was there. I’ve known Brandon since elementary school. When I was in 4th grade and he was in 3rd, Brandon and I ended up on the same little league basketball team. The 76’ers became a formidable power over the course of that year in the Glasgow Little League ABA division. But I’ll never forget our first practice. Although Brandon would go on to become one of the best high school point guards I have ever seen, at our first 76’ers practice he didn’t know what a double dribble was. When he caught the ball he would bounce it, catch it with both hands, and repeat. Despite his limited knowledge originally, it’s safe to say he caught on to this whole basketball thing fairly quickly.
Later in our little league careers we found ourselves on different teams. I was a 6th grader playing for the Mavericks and he was a 5th grader playing for the Bulls. We were the best two teams in the league and when our teams met the stands at Bunche Gymnasium were PACKED. I was having a great game, sinking short wing jumper after short wing jumper. We were up by six points with 19 seconds left AND we had the ball.
(We obviously ended up winning, right? Of course we
As we’re moving the ball up the floor Brandon steals it and makes a three with about :06 seconds left. Timeout Mavericks. Up by three, my dad draws up an inbounds play. I’m taking the ball out, my brother is going to run off a screen and be open. The play worked to perfection, except for the part where I threw the ball off my brother’s knee and it went out of bounds. Bulls ball. Timeout Bulls. Would you like to guess what happens next? The Bulls set no less than a triple screen for Brandon and he catches it in the right corner and makes another three. Tie game. The game goes to overtime and of course we lose. Everyone knows little league basketball is all about momentum. There was no rebuilding the psyche’s of the 11 & 12 year old Maverick players after that occurred. That was the first time I experienced the greatness of Brandon Stockton, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
I could go on and on about things he did in high school to win games for Glasgow but that would necessitate a whole post. Though Brandon’s career at Kentucky had its ups and downs, he is one of the most exciting players I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with a watching on a basketball court.
Let’s move on to the question and answer portion so you can get to know my teammate and my friend, Brandon Stockton.
Q & A
AF: Where do you currently live and what do you do?
I currently live in Glasgow, KY and I work part time at the Bowling Green Medical Center in Transport. I’m an assistant boys basketball coach at Glasgow and recently became the head coach of the Glasgow Middle School boys program.
AF: Who were you recruited by? Talk about the recruiting process. Did you look at any other schools? At what point did you commit? After you committed was it a relief or did you feel more pressure?
I began to be recruited by Coach Smith at the end of my sophomore year. The recruiting process for me really took off by playing for The Derek Smith All Stars during the summer. We played in the Big Time Tourney in Las Vegas and California where the best talent in the world played. I remember hearing about LBJ (Lebron James) in Vegas at the tourney. All the big names currently in the NBA were playing in this tournament. It gave college coaches a chance to see and recruit high school talent in one week. This tournament was where I started to shine a little and make a name for myself.
I got looks from and looked at a couple of other schools: Butler, Northwestern, Auburn, Florida, Cincinnati, and Iowa State. My plan was to try to commit before my senior season so I could relax and enjoy my final high school season with no worries. I made a point the summer before my junior season to work extra hard on my game so I could get offers my junior year. My grandmother passed away during that summer which added extra motivation to my junior season. I probably had the best season in my high school career that year. After my junior year I recieved an offer from Coach Smith during the summer and I committed to the University of Kentucky that fall (Editor’s note: Brandon and I shared a signing day. He couldn’t believe how many cameras showed up to watch me sign with Lipscomb University’s golf team).
With the biggest decision of my life (up to that point) out of the way I was really relieved and felt like I could go play basketball and not worry about impressing anyone. Little did I know that wouldn’t be the case. The UK faithful followed us all over the state to watch me play. I knew I couldn’t have a bad game because everyone knew who I was. Gyms were packed when we played. I was being asked for autographs. It was a shock at first but I stayed focused and had a good senior year which ended in me becoming Kentucky’s 2002 Mr. Basketball.
At first it was a relief that I didn’t have to worry about trying to impress college coaches anymore or worry about what college I wanted because that part was over. But the pressure of performing for the Big Blue Nation and having opposing fans heckle me every night stayed on my mind.
AF: How big was the adjustment from high school to college for you?
The adjustment from high school to college was a big difference. Workouts became much more intense and a lot more was expected out of you. As a freshman no matter what you were doing someone was constantly standing over you making sure you were putting in the work needed to stay on the team. Every year some of the best talent across the board is recruited so you have to put in the work because your scholarship isn’t guaranteed the next year. So on a basketball level I had to compete for my spot on the team every day. It wasn’t like high school where I separated myself from other players and became the best player on my team. In college every player is just as good or better.
AF: Had you grown up a Kentucky fan? Do you think it meant a little more to you than it did to other to put on that jersey with “Kentucky” across the chest? Did the Louisville rivalry mean a little more?
Growing up I had always been a UK fan. I do believe as a Kentucky kid being able to play for the University of Kentucky meant a little more on a personal level than out of state players. Kentucky Basketball for me was a way of life. It’s my home. Where I was born and raised. So I valued the opportunity to put on that jersey a little more than most. The rivalry with Louisville definitely meant more to me. I grew up around the rivalry. I have family members that are Louisville fans and every year it seems like on that game day nothing else matters to us but bragging rights.
AF: What was the best team you were on when you were at Kentucky?
The best team I was on was my freshman year. Keith Bogans, Marquis Estill, and Jules Camara were our seniors. We went undefeated in the SEC and ended the season as the #1 overall seed going to NCAA tourney. The most fun I had was that year because everyone bought in to the system and had one main goal and that was to win a National Championship. Keith’s foot injury before our elite eight game against Marquette took its toll on the team. Keith was our leader and our best scorer and our season went down when he did.
AF: What is your best memory of your four years playing basketball at UK?
One of my favorite memories would be the chest bump with Coach Smith after a great win at Tennessee. I came up with a really big steal that sealed the game for us and as Coach Smith and I walked towards each other we were both hyped up about the win. I wasn’t really expecting the chest bump, it just kind of happened. But that’s the type of person Coach Smith was. He was down to earth and passionate about the game and a class act as a person. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach on or off the court.
(Editor’s note: I searched for minutes upon minutes for a photo of this incredible moment and could not find it.)
AF: Tell a funny story about yourself or one of your teammates.
Haha. I’m going to have to pass on this.
AF: What are your thoughts on Louisville recently winning the title?
I think that Louisville winning the title this year wasn’t much of a surprise. I kind of felt like they would win it all this year. I made the comment that if they made it to the final four this year that they would win it all. I felt like their team defense would be the backbone to their tourney run and not many teams in America were ready for that.
AF: Do you still keep in touch with the guys you played with? Who was your roommate in college?
I try to stay in touch with as many of the guys as I can. It’s hard sometimes because we are all off doing our own things. Some of us are in the NBA, playing overseas, or working.
My roommates were different every year. I roomed with Antwain Barbour, Bobby Perry, and Joe Crawford while I was at the Lodge.
AF: Do you still watch games and follow the team closely? Have you been to any games recently?
I try to always watch the games when I can. Sometimes it’s hard because I coach high school basketball and we play on the same night sometimes. I try to keep up with the scores a lot and never miss out. I didn’t make it to many games the past three years because of coaching.
AF: What are your thoughts on Calipari? Have you had any interaction with him?
I haven’t had much interaction with him, but Coach Cal is a very good coach. He loves to teach the game no matter if they are winning or losing. He never stops teaching. That’s sign of a coach that really wants his players to succeed.
AF: Who are some of the best players you’ve ever played against?
I’ve played against a lot of talented players. I’m not sure who would be the best. A lot of them are in the NBA now. I went head to head with Raymond Felton, Deron Williams, and Sebastian Telfair to name a few.
AF: Who are the best players you’ve ever played with?
I played with Keith Bogans and Rajon Rondo at Kentucky. I also had a chance to play with Paul Pierce and Michael Beasley in China a few summers ago.
AF: If you could go back to high school before you had commited and do it all over again, would you change anything?
If I could go back I would make the same decision to commit to Kentucky. It was the best experience I could ever ask for. To have the opportunity to play for what I consider the best college program in the nation is something I’m proud of accomplishing.
AF: Are you still involved in basketball? Do you play or coach?
I’m still really involved in basketball. I coach on the high school level and am moving to the middle school level as a head coach this year. I still play a lot during the summer in pro-am tourneys and summer tourneys across Kentucky. I’m also involved in a few different basketball camps, including the 3DPG camp in Wilmore.
AF: Who was your favorite high school teammate that wore #30 and never attempted a two point field goal in his high school career?
LOL! My favorite high school teammate that wore #30 was “Big A” of course (Editor’s note: Me). The sharp shooting lefty from way down town. Never wanted shoot a layup or a 2 point shot because he felt like every 3 pointer was a layup.
I’d like to thank Brandon for sharing his time and thoughts with me this week. If you are interested in participating in the 3DPG camp this summer all the information can be found here: http://www.3dpgbasketball.com/
Camp coaches for the June 23-25 male/female point guard camp include former UK point guards Kyle Macy, J.P. Blevins, and Brandon Stockton. Six different camp sessions will take place in June at Asbury University’s Luce Center.
If you’d like to thank Brandon for doing this or ask him out to dinner, you can find him on twitter @b_stockton1.
UPDATE: Thanks to reader B. Smith, we now have video of the Brandon/Tubby chest bump. Enjoy.