Men's basketball

Cincinnati’s Kilpatrick primed for breakout season

NEW YORK — Mick Cronin knows Sean Kilpatrick will be playing in the NBA one day.

“I think he’s been on some NBA Draft sites on the internet” Cronin said. “I’m not smart enough to find those. He’s like a son to me, but I think that day will come.”

When it does, Cincinnati will have a massive void to fill.

But first, Kilpatrick is looking to lead Cincinnati to a Big East championship after the team went to the Sweet 16 last season. With the losses of big man Yancy Gates and slasher Dion Dixon, the Bearcats will need even more production from Kilpatrick this season.

The 6-foot-4 Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 14.3 points per game last year and finished first in the Big East with 92 3-pointers. Now a member of the Preseason All-Big East First Team, he has transformed into the go-to playmaker for the Bearcats. Cronin said Kilpatrick’s relentless pursuit of excellence and his genuine passion for the game of basketball set him apart from other talented players.

“Getting kids to play hard is much more difficult than fans would think,” Cronin said. “It’s difficult to find guys that compete at that level every play, every day, but that’s in his DNA. That’s who he is. He loves basketball.”

Kilpatrick’s tenacity helped mold Cincinnati into a defensive-minded, scrappy team last season, as the Bearcats held 29 of their 37 opponents to fewer than 70 points. One of those games came in the Big East tournament against Syracuse, when Kilpatrick ate the Orange alive, finishing with 18 points on six 3s.

Cronin said Kilpatrick has always been a knockdown shooter, but he has worked on other elements of his game to become a more complete player.

For Cronin, Kilpatrick’s future will likely depend on his production this season.

“Hopefully going pro is an option for him and that he has that kind of season,” Cronin said. “I don’t want to lose him, but I’m all for him having a great year.”

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