Sean Kilpatrick was almost a Friar. Closer than most realize, in fact.
The 2008-09 season was a different time. Keno Davis was the new head coach of the Friars and had more than a few scholarships at his disposal, as a veteran Providence team would lose its core at season’s end.
Not far away, Kilpatrick enrolled at Notre Dame Prep that fall. After a 28 point per game senior season and three all state selections in New York, he was set to spend a prep season in Massachusetts after de-committed from St. John’s the year prior.
He was surrounded by Big East targets at ND Prep. James Southerland would eventually sign with Syracuse, Johnnie Lacy to the Friars, and a year behind them Ron Giplaye would pledge to Providence as well.
At 6’4, Kilpatrick was an undersized shooting guard, but for anyone watching him closely that season it was apparent he was a tremendous scorer. His decision to choose Cincinnati over Providence was a blow, one made worse by the class Davis brought in.
Only two players from that seven person class are still with the Friars – and they are both solid Big East players in Vincent Council and Kadeem Batts – but Providence’s decision to look West and lock down Duke Mondy early in the signing period combined with other terrible swings and misses will make watching Kilpatrick a little more unbearable on Wednesday night at The Dunk.
Now 23, Kilpatrick has taken a long road from New York high school star to prep standout to eventual All Big East performer.
He was redshirted during his freshman season, as he and mega-recruit Lance Stephenson joined a veteran group with only so much room for freshmen. Stephenson (Council’s high school teammate, notably) was a lock to play for only a season before heading to the NBA, and he logged big minutes from the start.
Kilpatrick was a near 10 point per game scorer in his first year of action, bumped that to nearly 15 a year ago and is now part of perhaps the best backcourt in the Big East with point guard Cashmere Wright.
More significantly, he’s played a major role in raising the profile of Cincinnati’s program.
In four seasons prior to Kilpatrick playing for him, Mick Cronin had never made the NCAA as the head coach of the Bearcats. The past two seasons, they won 52 games and made the tournament in both – reaching the Sweet 16 last season.
Now in Kilpatrick’s third year, this might be the best Cincinnati team of Cronin’s tenure. They started 12-0, and have won five of six after hitting a rough patch in early January. Their only loss during the run was a two point stumble at Syracuse – a game they controlled until very late.
Kilpatrick has been at the heart of it all. He had 36 points in an overtime win over Marquette, hung 32 on Iowa State, scored 25 more versus Xavier, and has made 19 three pointers in their last four games alone (including six in the Carrier Dome).
His 18.1 points per game in Big East play are good for third in the conference, and he’s the only player other than Bryce Cotton to average three 3 pointers a game in Big East play. Kilpatrick is also second on the team with 5.5 rebounds a night.
If he stays for his fifth year at Cincinnati Kilpatrick will most likely finish his career somewhere in the vicinity of 2,000 points.
There are all sorts of “what if” games to be played when it comes to where recruits eventually land, but there’s no debate that the five misses that made up PC’s recruiting class that season set the program back a ways – a point that might cross the minds of some in Friartown when Kilpatrick plays in Providence on Wednesday night.
Email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org