Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Cincinnati’s Kilpatrick Motivated to Provide for Daughter
NEWARK — For Sean Kilpatrick, the best thing about coming home this past weekend was not scoring 21 points in Cincinnati’s Big East win at Seton Hall.
No, the best moment may have happened before the game even started.
That’s when the junior from Yonkers, N.Y. ran out onto the Prudential Center floor and saw his 2-year-old daughter, Bailey, waiting in the crowd to see him play.
“Coming out of the tunnel being able to see her was just amazing,” the man they call “SK” told SNY.tv exclusively following Cincinnati’s 66-59 victory in which he went 5-of-15 from beyond the arc.
A former star at White Plains High School and Notre Dame Prep, Kilpatrick hadn’t seen Bailey since September. She lives with her mother, Brittany, in White Plains; Kilpatrick said he and the baby’s mother are not together.
“My mom actually helps along with that as well, so I get to see her on FaceTime or Skype or something like that,” Kilpatrick said.
“So to actually get to physically see her and her clapping and doing everything is just amazing.”
A Preseason All-Big East First Team selection, Kilpatrick said his own parents were separated and that he wants to make a different life for Bailey.
“I don’t want my daughter to grow up basically the way I did,” he said. “I mean, I grew up kind of tough. It was tough for my mom and my dad.”
The 6-foot-4 Kilpatrick is averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Bearcats (18-4, 6-3 Big East).
He has scored 20 or more points in eight games this season, including three times in Cincinnati’s last five games.
“I think his understanding is much better,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “He’s much more an all-around player. He’s still gotta become better at blocking out. He’ll go get the ball but when his man is a rebounder, that’s probably his biggest weakness.
“But his ball-handling, his pace, letting the game come to him, controlling his aggression offensively is where he’s really developed…But obviously, he’s one of the class players in our league.”
Kilpatrick is planning on playing professionally down the road — hopefully in the NBA — to help provide for his daughter.
“Once I’m able to sit here and give my daughter a different background and a different way of life, that’s something major to me so I take that very personal, especially if I’m sitting here playing basketball,” he said. “That is a full-time job.”
Kilpatrick remains best friends with former Bearcat Lance Stephenson, the Brooklyn native who is now averaging 8.3 points and 2.8 assists for the resurgent Indiana Pacers. Stephenson has two children of his own.
“It’s funny because we actually spoke [Friday] night after his game,” Kilpatrick said.
“It’s just amazing knowing that your best friend, even though he has a busy schedule and he’s going through what he’s going through with the NBA, he can still stay in touch with you.
“When I do have the open time just to go around and go to Indiana and especially to see him, it’s just amazing. So it feels like that beat, it never skipped a beat between me and him. Then on top of that we’re speaking every day, so it’s just amazing.
“I love him, just like he loves me and that’s the greatest part about it.”
And like Stephenson, Kilpatrick wants to end up in the NBA to help provide for his daughter.
“I have that type of confidence in myself,” he said.
“But also Lance, he always put that in my head, ‘You can make it here.’ It’s not like it’s an impossible thing. Everything is possible. And you gotta continue to keep God in your corner and continue to keep that type of faith in your corner that you can make it.”
Photos: Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati Athletics
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.