When the Ball Stops Bouncing…Kentucky State Men’s Basketball “Postgame Series”

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Men’s Basketball team meeting for “Postgame series”

Josh Wilkerson

The Kentucky State men’s basketball team has not been cleared to officially start full practice yet because of the pandemic; however, the coaches are still working with the players off the court. Coach Jamaal Jackson has started a new segment with his team called “Postgame Series”, focusing on life after basketball. Every player knows no matter how far they take the game, the ball eventually stops bouncing one day. So, Jackson has thought of a new way to help his players.

“‘Postgame Series’ was created for our student-athletes to start thinking about life when the game is over,” Jackson said. “For many years, our young men defined themselves simply as basketball players, although they are so much more than that. They will be fathers, husbands, professionals, and leaders within their communities, at some point the ball will stop bouncing. We want our Thorobreds to be prepared for that and ensure that they will experience a smooth transition to their life off of the court.”

Every week, the team meets and gets a chance to network with a special guest as they go into depth about transitioning into the next chapter of their lives. The first guests were Kenny Jones and Kamari Wooten, who are two previous Thorobreds. Jones attended Kentucky State University from 2004 to 2008 and earned SIAC player of the year in 2008. He has played in professional leagues across the world and was inducted into the Kentucky State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. Wooten was also a part of the Thorobred’s basketball team and graduated in 2007. He is currently the director of academic services for the men’s basketball program at the University of Louisville. Wooten has led the men’s basketball program to multiple academic excellence awards.

Jones gave advice about taking full advantage of opportunities and using the game and not letting the game use you. “The game will reward you and will take care of you if you give her your all, never take it for granted,” Jones said.

Wooten spoke on how important building relationships are. “It’s all about networking. Any chance you get to meet someone new, take advantage. Learn how to speak to people,” Wooten said.

The following week, Jackson brought in basketball legend Jim Cleamons to speak to the team. Cleamons is a 10-time NBA champion as both coach and player. He has been around and coached some of basketball’s greatest players, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The basketball savant talked to the team about a variety of topics as the Kentucky State players picked his brain. Cleamons really stressed on “what you want to get out of this game.”

“As soon as you get in the door, make your plan for what you’re going to do when you leave,” Cleamons said.

The next guest was a well-known voice in the basketball world, Clark Kellogg. Many people recognize him for being the commentator for the NBA2K franchise video game. Kellogg is a former professional basketball player in the NBA and is currently the lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. He spoke with the young men as well on how to transition from being a basketball player to still being successful in life. He elaborated on how important it is to always be respectful to others and not to burn any bridges. The players also talked to him about how they are doing during the pandemic and what ways they are still able to work on their game.

Each week, as the team meets to continue this “Postgame Series”, more guests will speak to the team on how they can be more prepared for the next steps in life and start networking so that their future off the court is just as bright as their on the court aspirations.