As a basketball fan, I have always had a love for the lesser known, obscure and/or under-appreciated. At school, when most kids were wearing Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal or Michael Jordan jerseys, I was wearing Bobby Hurley, Derek Harper and Dino Radja.
This is my open tribute to the lesser known players in today’s game. This is Spotted on the Pine.
Name: Kent Bazemore
Team: Golden State Warriors
Jersey Number: 20
Rookie Year: 2012-13
College: Old Dominion
From a former All-Star in Chris Gatling to solid veterans that stuck around the league in management roles with teams like Mark West, Kenny Gattison and Dave Twardzik, Old Dominion has had its fair share of NBA talent pass through their Virginia campus. In 2012, the Monarchs would unleash another alumni into the NBA, the subject of this week’s article, Kent Bazemore.
Born in the basketball hotbed of North Carolina, after excelling at Bertie High School as the Northeast North Carolina Coastal Conference Player of the Year, Kent Bazemore found himself joining the Old Dominion Monarchs as a redshirted freshman in the 2007-08 season.
Kent would quickly emerge with the Monarchs, using his talent to increase his role every season at ODU. As a Freshman, he would be a key rotation player before moving into the starting lineup his Sophomore year and quickly emerging as one of the top defensive players in the Colonial Athletic Association. Bazemore would finish his sophomore campaign with team honors of having the best record in the CAA, win their conference’s tournament and as an individual be named to the conference’s All-Defensive team, all in his first season as a starter.
Standing at 6’5” Bazemore continued to utilize his seven-foot wingspan to earn the Lefty Driesell Award in his Junior season. The second-ever winner of the award, the Driesell Award is given to the top defensive player in all of Men’s Division I. The season following Bazemore’s win, the award was given to the National Player of the Year and Number One overall pick in the NBA Draft, Anthony Davis.
Bazemore completed his Monarch career in a major way, becoming the 48th player in school history to have 1,000 career points and only one of four to obtain 200 career steals.
Some would speculate an off-court incident led to Bazemore going undrafted in the 2012 Draft, however Kent found himself with a few early Summer League commitments. First linking up with the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of their 2012 Orlando Summer League squad in the start of July, Kent was committed to play for Golden State in the more popular Las Vegas Summer League at the end of the month.
Although not playing for the Thunder squad due to a reported injury, Bazemore showed up the Vegas Summer League ready to shine as bright as the lights in the surrounding city. Kent did not get to play in the first Summer League game with the Warriors, however when key Warrior Klay Thompson was shut down early, Bazemore was given an opportunity. While playing 36 minutes against a Chicago Bulls team, Bazemore registered eleven points, eight rebounds but more incredibly, seven blocks.
Bazemore’s intensity over the last three games made it hard to pass up on the potential and the Warriors would sign him to a two-year deal at the league minimum.
Kent would see only short bursts of playing time in his first NBA season, only being sent the D-League very minimally. In five appearances with the Santa Cruz Warriors, he would average 21.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 4.4 steals.
In the games he would appear, his minutes would be limited to mostly appearances under ten minutes. Kent once again had a nice performance against the Bulls on March 15, 2013, scoring his NBA career high to date of 14 points.
Several games, he would only be in for seconds, such as my opportunity to see him live in Phoenix on April 5, 2013, where although he only played a total of 16 seconds, he was sporting some crazy awesome yellow Under Armor shoes.
Bazemore has still emerged as a fan favorite among the Oakland faithful due to his entertaining celebrations and support of his teammates. Some greatest hits videos have been compiled on YouTube.
I mean, check out this picture. You gotta be fan.
Kent has even taken some traditional rookie hazing in stride.
Bazemore has gotten a few minutes in the current playoff run of the Warriors and with Golden State’s exciting young team emerging, we can only hope Kent Bazemore continues to emerge himself.
Main article photo available per @junniearreza
Second photo courtesy The Official Site of Kent Bazemore (kentbazemore20.com)