Memorial grad Kenneth Lofton Jr. talks place in NBA on eve of 1st training camp

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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A Port Arthur native dawned his NBA jersey and sat in front of reporters during NBA media day this week. All of the teams met up with media members before the start of training camp in the coming days.

Memorial graduate Kenneth Lofton Jr. put on his Memphis Grizzlies jersey and answered an array of questions about his experience in the Summer League and his role on the team for the upcoming season. Lofton signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies after the NBA Draft.

Lofton impressed during the Summer League, averaging 15 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He was the leading scorer in each of the last two games and out-performed the second overall pick in the NBA draft when they went head to head.

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“I am very grateful and thankful to be in this opportunity,” Lofton said during media day. “Going into Summer League, it was great overall. Memphis has been great, overall. I came to play my role and be ready when my name is called.”

The rounds of interviews also give the chance for local journalists to learn about new players’ journeys to the NBA.

“Up to high school, I wasn’t that tall,” Lofton said. “I was only about 6’2”. Going into my senior year, I grew to about 6’6”. I was playing point guard in high school. All four years I did everything. When I got to college, my coach was hollering that he needed a four and a five. I need someone to play. I told him I would play it. I just knew post moves, so I did them. I just adjusted to the game and put it in one bag and used it.”

One reporter asked Lofton about being able to possess his skillset at his size.

“In my senior year of high school, I got a lot more comfortable before I got to college,” Lofton said. “I was just eating, but I maintained it. I feel great and energized and ready to play. I didn’t really focus on what anyone had to say. When I got on the court, I was going to give you the business either way. I didn’t really listen to a lot of outsiders, I just listened to my parents and the people I am close to.”

The former Titans star left Louisiana Tech after two seasons to declare for the NBA Draft. Despite going undrafted, he signed a two-way deal with Memphis, meaning he can play for the NBA squad or the team’s developmental G-League team. The deal is such that Lofton could be on the G-League team and at any point in the season, he could get called up to Memphis and be on the roster at a moment’s notice.

“I have to go out there, stay focused and remain ready, like coach always tells us,” Lofton said. “You just take time and have a mindset to be focused out there.”

He might not have to wait too long. Memphis’ starting power forward, which is the same position Lofton plays, is injured. If Lofton can prove himself worthy of playing during training camp, he could see some time on the roster.

“That is not the point right now,” Lofton said of how Jaren Jackson’s injury might impact his status. “We are going into training camp and getting ready for the season and taking it step by step. Jaren is going to be back soon. I have to find