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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.
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Sunday / October 21.
  • Kentucky Walk-On Enjoying the Ride

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    LEXINGTON, Ky.Brian Long may be the only member of the Kentucky basketball team who hasn’t been dunked on by Anthony Davis or Terrence Jones during practice.

    “No one has dunked on me, thank God,” the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Long told last week. “There’s been a few dunks on people but I haven’t been a victim yet.”

    Long is a freshman walk-on playing for the No. 1 team in the country after spending four years as a point guard at River Dell (N.J.) High School. He averaged 9.6 points and 5.0 assists as a senior.

    His father, Brian Sr., recently retired as the head coach at River Dell. He goes way back with Kentucky coach John Calipari, and the connection helped Long land a spot on the Wildcats.

    “I’ve known Coach Cal my whole life,” Long said. “My dad and him met in Five-Star Camp back in the day and they’ve been friends for a while. I’ve known Coach Cal my whole life so he gave me the opportunity to walk on here.”

    Travis Long, Brian’s older brother, was a walk-on for Calipari at Memphis.

    Calipari declined an opportunity to comment on Long after his press conference Friday in advance of the North Carolina game.

    Long, who didn’t receive any Division 1 offers out of high school but had some D-3 interest, lives in the Lodge with the other Kentucky players.

    He participates in two-on-one and other drills in practice.

    “I do the main stuff [in practice],” he said. “I do everything he needs me to do as far as pass.”

    He has played in five games this year, scoring his first two points of his college career against Penn State at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

    “I was at that game,” Brian Sr. said.

    Asked how it felt to see his son playing for Kentucky, Brian Sr., said, “We kid around. We say, ‘It used to be Las Vegas where dreams come true. It’s now Kentucky.’

    He added: “You wonder how much Brian understands it now, but he’ll understand it later on when he gets older looking back. Just being around all these great players and the program. And if Brian wants to get into coaching, there’s not a better place to be.”

    Sometimes, Long will take a moment to look up at the capacity crowd at Rupp Arena, or at the “Kentucky” on his jersey, and shake his head in disbelief.

    “Yeah, when I think back on it, it was crazy,” he said. “I’m on the best team in the country. Thinking of it like that, it’s crazy for the fact that I was in New Jersey last year playing high school basketball.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.