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The Two Words Athletic Teenagers Use the Most


The tasks of a KSR blogger vary on a day-to-day basis, ranging from tedious podcast editing to scowling Twitter for content, but at the heart of my job is one simple task: ask teenagers questions.

Whether I’m talking to All-SEC linebacker Jordan Jones or No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, I’m talking to kids that can’t legally sit at a bar and order a drink.  It’s easy to sit at a bar and pick somebody’s brain, but the task becomes more challenging when you have to have a conversation with a 17-year old in front of a dozen cameras.

Earlier this month, I spent three days speaking to 17-year olds behind a camera at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago.  Still not yet versed in media training, questions must be crafted more carefully to receive exceptional content in a conversation set in circumstances the athletes are not accustomed to.  When the questions weren’t carefully crafted, I usually heard a “B-B-N” from the future Wildcats, a ubiquitous crowd-pleasing soundbite.  When discussing their basketball future with John Calipari, the following two words were uttered more than any other phrase:

“Next Level”

The All-Americans didn’t use that phrase to describe college basketball, they were referring to the NBA.  The ultimate goal for the best of the best of the best isn’t to receive a college scholarship, it’s to get paid to play professionally in the NBA.

When Quade Green was a kid shooting hoops in Philadelphia, I bet he was dreaming of hitting a big shot for the Sixers like Allen Iverson instead of being John Cheney’s point guard at Temple.  When I first started writing, my goal wasn’t to be the best unpaid KSR College blogger, it was to get paid for my skills on the big stage.

Earlier this week fans were quick to pick up their torches and pitchforks when Hamidou Diallo and Bam Adebayo announced their intentions to pursue their dream of playing at the next level.  “This isn’t what Kentucky basketball is supposed to be about,” was the generalized sentiment, even though that’s exactly what it is about.

At the heart of John Calipari’s Kentucky basketball program is helping players reach their ultimate goal of playing at the next level.  Like me, you may have grown up dreaming about hitting that buzzer-beater at Rupp Arena.  Most of us weren’t good enough to make that dream a reality.  The best of the best of the best grew up dreaming about that buzzer-beater at the next level, the NBA.

John Calipari opened his first press conference as the Kentucky head coach by saying: “I’m here because I can recruit the best of the best here. That’s why I’m here.”  

In eight years, Calipari has done exactly that.  He’s won games, he’s been to Final Fours, he’s won a title and he’s helped dozens of players reach their dreams by playing at the next level.  The best of the best come to Kentucky because Calipari can get them where they want to be.

Acceptance is the first step.  I’ve accepted that my career will be defined on how well I can ask teenagers questions.  The sooner the “B-B-N” accepts that the best players come to Kentucky to leave for the “next level,” the better.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

4 Comments for The Two Words Athletic Teenagers Use the Most

  1. Duuuuuude
    3:38 pm April 29, 2017 Permalink

    The proverbial catch 22. If he is super talented, the NBA will take him. Are we hoping that he is not good enough for the NBA, therefore we are stuck with a guy who cannot shoot for a year? UK does not compete against other schools to draw talent like Western or Louisville does. UK competes with the NBA for players now.

  2. cats42301
    5:42 pm April 29, 2017 Permalink

    John Chaney not Dick *Cheney*
    You just don’t believe in proofreading do you? Take some lessons from Miss Tyler, please.

  3. timewilltell
    6:49 pm April 29, 2017 Permalink

    The landscape has changed in College BB. Coaches who recruit the top tier talent know up front that one n done is likely. So yes it is about the next level for these 18 year old kids.

  4. mcp157
    2:45 pm April 30, 2017 Permalink

    Agree totally with your last statement. But what really needs to happen is to let high schoolers, whether they are ready or not, go to the NBA. If they can fight in silly wars in the Middle East they should have the freedom to try going to the NBA. Then if they choose to go the college route, make a two year commitment.