Being a big time Old Dominion University fan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching from a distance as Kent Bazemore has progressed to the player and person he has become today. My family is also from Oakland, so I was very happy to learn today that Kent Bazemore has reached a deal with the Warriors.
I remember reading about Kent when ODU had offered him a scholarship. Kent is from nearby Bertie County, located in northeastern North Carolina. He was lightly recruited out of high school, I’m not sure if he had any other division one offers. His high school coach mentioned that some of the big time state schools really missed out on a player like Kent. He was advertised as a big, rangy 6-5 guard. That was intriguing to me, because Florida had just come off national titles and I had always been impressed with Cory Brewer.
ODU had a strong class that year, so it was decided that it was in his best interest to redshirt. ODU uses the redshirt almost like a college football team. I attended almost every home game and several road games as well and Kent was always the guy before the games that was amping the other guys up. We would hear reports during his redshirt season, that Kent was already ready to play.
Kent progressed each and every season at ODU. His freshmen year he got his feet wet on a pretty good team by playing some point guard and occasionally he would make an exciting play, followed up by an inexperienced play. He made a huge progression by the time he was a sophomore. He was a key player on a team that would go on to win the CAA tournament and beat Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the second round, ODU fought hard against a Baylor team that featured some nice talent, including Ekpe Udoh. ODU stormed back from 20 down to take a late lead. Baylor would eventually win the game, Kent ended the game with 13 points and 7 assists.
Kent made an even bigger progression his junior season. That ODU team was very strong, they would go on to lead the nation in rebound margin. Kent averaged over 5 boards a game from a guard position and provided highlight dunks and chase down blocks all season long. Kent would go on to win CAA defensive player of the year, be named to the all tournament team and won Lefty Driesell defensive player of the year. This was Kent at his most dynamic. ODU would draw Butler in the NCAA tournament in Washington DC. Coach Brad Stevens made it a point to take away Kent and he did an excellent job of that. They had him scouted to a tee. It was a classic game, that Butler won on a buzzer beating tap in. Butler would go on to the national title game, many ODU players felt like that could have been them. ODU would go on to graduate a stellar senior class.
Kent suffered a serious foot injury during the summer before his senior season. It required surgery and it really took him some time to regain his old form. He was so important to his team, yet everyone knew the importance of Kent being healthy long term. Kent learned to play at a slower speed, he became a smarter player. It really took awhile before he became himself. He still had a very fine year. On his senior night game against Drexel, Kent exploded for 37 and 12 in front of his family. Drexel has one of the best defenses in the country, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint thought that may have been the best performance he’s coached against. Kent would go on to lead a class that finished at ODU with the most wins, was again CAA defensive player of the year and was CAA 1st team. All that despite not quite being 100 percent.
He’s the type of guy that everyone around here can pull for. His performance for Golden State in the summer league in Vegas was what we’ve been seeing at Old Dominion for 4 years.
What can Warrior fans expect to see from Kent Bazemore?
Kent will do all the little things teams need to win ballgames. At ODU they kept a hustle chart at each and every practice. They would chart steals, rebounds, charges, blocks and especially deflections. Kent filled up that chart during his opportunities in the Vegas summer league.
He’s a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. At ODU Kent would often be used to bother smaller guards. His 7 foot wingspan really gets in the way of passing lanes and distorts vision of the rim. Kent can also guard the small forward position as needed.
Excellent defensive rebounder. Kent averaged 6 boards a game at ODU his senior year despite often being the primary ballhandler. He’s capable of clearing the glass and then leading the break.
Developing offensive game. Kent’s best spot is the elbow extended jumper. It’s a polished move for him. He can elevate and create his own shot at the NBA level and is athletic enough that he’s only 1 dribbble away from finishing at the rim.
Hard Worker. Kent really progressed at ODU, some of that was the coaching staff who does an excellent job of developing diamond’s in the rough. The bulk of the credit goes to Kent who continued to work on his game and keep his head up.
Golden State got a really nice player here who is low maintenance and humble. I can envision Kent being a real asset in practice bothering Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes while he’s getting acclimated to the NBA game. His specialty is on the defensive end, but he has the raw talent and athleticism to one day be a nice offensive player.