In recent years, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) has staked its claim as the best mid-major conference in the country. Since 2006, they have had 2 schools, George Mason and VCU, reach the Final Four, and a 3rd school, Old Dominion, make multiple NCAA appearances in that stretch, including back-to-back bids in 2010-2011. One of the key players on those ODU squads was Kent Bazemore. A 3-year starter, Bazemore built a reputation as a top-level defender, but showed that he is an excellent all-around player. This past season, he led ODU in scoring, assists, and steals, and was 2nd in rebounding. On top of that, he won his 2nd consecutive CAA Defensive Player of the Year award, to go along with his 2011 Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year award, and was named First Team All-CAA this past season. I had the chance to talk to Kent recently as he prepares to show NBA teams what he can do:
Kent on how his game developed at Old Dominion:
“Every year I was there I progressed. I redshirted when I first got there. I was 170 pounds and very raw. I had not real skill set and my shot needed work. That first summer, I worked with Coach (John) Richardson and worked on adding strength. After my second season, when we won the CAA and then beat Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it was like a coming out party for us. We knew there would be a lot of expectations the next season, so I made sure I was in the gym all the time and doing my part. I broke my foot before my senior season, so I had a slow start, but it gave me a chance to refocus and do what I needed to as a player.”
Kent on the rise of the CAA:
“It definitely made everyone a better player. The strength and quality of the players was a testament to the strength of the conference. As players, it made us stay on our toes, knowing that we couldn’t take a night off. Once we won the CAA, we all had to raise our game another level, knowing that we had a target on our back and great players were coming after us.
Kent on his strengths as a player:
“I think my athleticism is one of biggest strengths. That should translate smoothly to the next level. I know I can run and jump, play baseline to baseline, with the best. With the athleticism, it can improve all of the other parts of my game.
Kent on what parts of his game he still wants to improve:
“I need to work on taking care of the ball and hitting the open shot. I also want to improve my defense more to guard the players you see in the pros. If I do these things, I know I can have a long, successful career.”
Kent on how he sees his role at the next level:
“I can go in there and defend, knock down the open shot, make it tough for other teams to score. Anything I can do to improve the team, I will do it.”
Kent on preparing for NBA workouts:
“I’ve been training with Cal Bowdler (ODU ’99, 1st round NBA pick). He’s been through the process and is helping me get ready for what is coming. I’ve been spending time lifting weights and working on my conditioning, looking to get in the best shape of my life.”
Kent on what he wants teams and fans to know about him:
“I am a very hard worker and I don’t quit. I hang my hat on going out there and giving everything I have every time I step out there. ”
I want to thank Kent for his time and I wish him the best of luck as he looks to fulfill his dream of getting to the NBA. Thank you also to his agent, Austin Walton at Walton Sports Management Group, for setting up this interview. The way Bazemore plays the game may not be flashy, but he does a lot of things very well, many of which should translate to the next level. Don’t be surprised if you see him playing for a NBA team near you sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit: Crystal Spick