Former Memorial star Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s impressive sophomore start follows golden summer
Published 12:34 am Saturday, December 11, 2021
Memorial graduate and Louisiana Tech basketball player Kenneth Lofton Jr. has started his sophomore campaign where he left off last season.
Over a month into the regular season, Lofton has recorded two 30-point, 10-plus rebound games.
His first came in a 90-81 loss to NC State, where Lofton scored 36 points and pulled down 17 boards. He is the only player in the country to have a 35-point, 15-rebound game as of Friday afternoon.
“It just happened,” he told Port Arthur Newsmedia. “We go out there to win. I just happened to put up those points. It really didn’t matter in the end, because we didn’t come out with a win. I really don’t look at it like that.”
His second such performance came in a 78-75 victory over Santa Clara last week. Lofton recorded 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Following the win, LA Tech Head Coach Eric Konkol praised Lofton for his performance.
“We talk about being gritty and tough and we were that today,” he said. “After the crazy travel day we had yesterday and not being able to practice. The guys showed a lot of mental toughness, making big shots down the stretch. It was a very physical game. Santa Clara worked with a lot of different speed and length to try to keep the ball out of the paint, but Junior finished so many players. His teammates kept looking for him and did a great job.”
After a week off from playing, Louisiana Tech returned home to face rival UL-Lafayette today (Dec. 11). Tech improved to 7-2 on the season following a 78-67 victory. Lofton scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 10 rebounds and an assist.
Lofton said he worked on his game over the summer.
“My teammates and I have been trying to get better…We are working to become the best and not lose anymore games,” he said. “I am just trying to be a good role model and lead on and off the court.”
As a freshman, he took Conference USA by storm breaking the record for most Freshman of the week awards. Lofton followed up with an impressive post season run in the NIT Tournament, where he hit a buzzer beater in the third-place game to beat Colorado State.
From there, he went on to compete with Team USA in the U19 world championship games, where he and his teammates took home the gold medal.
“It was a different experience for all of us to be able to go to another country and play basketball,” Lofton said. “It was mostly everyone’s first time doing that. We just stuck together and stuck with the plan and won.”
Lofton held his own, putting up impressive numbers alongside players who are projected to be first-round picks in the NBA draft next year. Lofton, who is normally a confident guy, said his performance had little impact on his self-perception.
“The expectation is always high for me,” he said. “I expect a lot for me. I just went and did what I had to do and fit in the best way possible. We were able to succeed and play well.”
Now a sophomore, Lofton feels like his role on the team has changed.
“I can’t do this by myself,” he said. “I need my teammates in everything I do. We are in this together. Whatever I do, they do. We all contribute.”
Lofton has high expectations for his team this year.
“We want to win conference, make it to March Madness and, hopefully, win a couple games there,” he said.
When not playing overseas, Lofton spent a good deal of time back home in Port Arthur.
“It was pretty cool to give support back to my hometown,” he said. “I always like to come back and talk to people about my experience and what I go through. It is pretty fun.”