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.
Sean Kilpatrick is just a kid from Yonkers, N.Y., who has never been outside the United States.
After making the 12-man final roster for the USA World University Games Team, he will finally head overseas on Monday.
To Kazan, Russia for the big event.
“This is my first time [overseas],” the 6-foot-4 senior guard from Cincinnati told SNY.tv after making the roster.
“I’d be able to say that I made my mom and my dad proud by representing my country by doing something that I enjoy doing. I’m just happy to be here.”
Kilpatrick is the fourth Cincinnati player ever to play for the World Games team, joining Eric Hicks (2005), Kenyon Martin (1999) and Pete Mickeal (1999).
Kilpatrick made the cut after nearly 30 players tried out for a team coached by Davidson’s Bob McKillop with Michigan’s John Beilein and South Carolina’s Frank Martin as assistants.
“This is a great opportunity to learn from the coaching staff, which is tremendous,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin told SNY.tv.
“It’s also a chance to improve as a player and represent our country. He is one of the best players in America and definitely the best teammate in college basketball. I’m elated for him.”
During tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo., the 23-year-old Kilpatrick matched up on guys like New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and and Creighton’s Doug McDermott,the SNY Big East Preseason Player of the Year.
“This is something that I encourage everybody to work to get because you’re playing against the best competition,” he said.
McDermott helped oust Kilpatrick and Cincinnati from the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, but the two have developed a bond.
“I call him the new and improved Dirk Nowitzki,” Kilpatrick said of the 6-8 McDermott. “You don’t really see him catch a lot of dunks but he racks up points.”
McDermott and Creighton enter the Big East Conference just as Kilpatrick and Cincinnati are leaving for the American Athletic Conference.
“He’s gonna be real good especially due to the fact that he has the size with him,” Kilpatrick said. “There’e not a lot of guys with that type of size and that can shoot the way he can.”
The two have been getting in some extra workout sessions together.
“I mean, me and him have been having workout sessions before practice,” he said of McDermott. “He matches my intensity in this. If he can do that then I can say he’s a tough player.”
As for next season with the Bearcats, they lose senior guards Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker and big man Cheikh Mbodj, but bring in a number of young guards as well as 6-10 New York City native Jermaine Lawrence.
“We lost a couple guys that [were] big but we also gained guys that are hungry and are going to come out and play hard,” Kilpatrick said. “Shaq Thomas is gonna be great. Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles, they’re as athletic as anyone in the county.”
Kilpatrick said he hasn’t focused too much on the new league, but knows the Bearcats will face defending NCAA champion Louisville as well as UConn and Memphis.
“If you’re able to compete with teams like that and get wins, that means the most,” he said.
For now, Kilpatrick is about to leave the U.S. — and his soon-to-be-3-year-old-daughter, Bailey — for the first time in his life, but he says he isn’t nervous at all.
“No, I’m confident because I have great teammates,” he said. “When you’re playing against other countries with the best players in the country you feel comfortable because you know they are going to battle with you.”
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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.