KJ’s Top 5: Hoyas, Bearkats, Bobcats, Bulldogs, Braves make Memorial post Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s cut

Published 12:20 am Thursday, August 15, 2019

Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s height grew almost as quickly as his list of college offers.

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After a breakout season on Memorial’s varsity basketball team, the now 6-foot-7 post player — two inches taller than his listed height last season — earned 22 scholarship letters from programs ranging from Lamar State College Port Arthur to Georgetown.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Lofton said about the relation of his height to his game. “… I stay in the gym all day, working on my craft. It’s a lot to work on, so I’m just in the gym, working all day.”

Two years ago, Lofton was a 6-2 sophomore on the junior varsity, called up to the varsity just before Memorial marched to the 5A state championship.

“He was a guard once upon a time,” Titans head coach Alden Lewis said. “People don’t really know he has that guard mentality that helps him on the low block.”

Wednesday was Lofton’s 17th birthday and the first day of his senior year at Memorial. The double-double machine announced Georgetown, Sam Houston State, Texas State, Louisiana Tech and Bradley as his top five choices.

“The top five I had picked, that’s all the five I am leaning to,” Lofton said, adding one university doesn’t stand out over another.

Mid-majors like Lamar, Southern (where his sister Kennedi is going into her junior season as a post), Grambling State and Akron have extended their hands of fellowship.

Although Georgetown is a traditional power in the Big East that’s been to five Final Fours (last in 2007), Lofton said he picked his final five based on how he would best fit into each program. The Hoyas have a prior connection to Port Arthur in Anthony Allen, who led Lincoln to the 1986 4A state championship and was “Mr. Basketball” in the state and started at four different positions in his four years there, according to HoyaBasketball.com.

Lofton finished his junior season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and two assists per game, a sign that his game had improved leaps and bounds in a short time.

“It took off,” Lewis said. “I think his first offer was in December of ’18, and I think his next one was in March, and it took off from there. He had a very good summer, very productive on the circuit.”

From his days in sub-varsity basketball, Lofton maintained a vision.

“Just working hard every day, like playing in tournaments or playing in the NCAA academy so you can show your game and college coaches can look at you,” he said.

Lofton played in front of big-name coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina’s Roy Williams while on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League with the Houston Hoops during the summer. The team reached the semifinals of the Peach Jam, the league’s version of the Final Four, in North Augusta, South Carolina, last month.

Under Armour sponsors a similar circuit that includes the Houston Defenders, who feature another Memorial senior post in Nate Clover and Nederland swingman-slash-Texas A&M commit Hayden Hefner.

“I feel like the Nike circuit is the best circuit,” Lofton said. “They sponsor you with a lot of stuff. When you go to a Nike tournament, they don’t want you wearing Adidas, nothing else besides Nike. They put aside money to the teams so you can buy stuff.”

Lofton then went to the NCAA’s inaugural youth development college basketball camp for the South Region at the University of Houston. The camp also provided educational sessions about academic eligibility, health and wellness and other life skills. Lofton was selected by a committee of NCAA and National Association of Basketball Coaches members, and the NCAA paid for all expenses.

“It was a great showcase to be going to,” Lofton said. “Like, if you’re underlooked or anything, so you can show out there.”

Ever growing in height and his ability, Lofton might convince a few more programs to not overlook him.

“He found ways to help the team the most, and he excelled from that point,” Lewis said. “He solidified his position.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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