St. Pat's alum makes mark in college
NEW YORK – For many, the last they had seen of Mike Kidd-Gilchrist was when he walked off the Rutgers Athletic Center floor during the waning seconds of St. Patrick's heartbreaking loss to St. Anthony in the Non-Public B championship game back in March.
He strolled into his post-high school career with five fouls, seven points and 14 rebounds, but what everybody remembers is he made the lonely trek to the Celtics' bench without that trophy in his back pocket he was so hell-bent on getting.
Happier times awaited Kidd-Gilchrist, as he graduated from St. Patrick High School and then starred in a wonderful documentary, which premiered in late October, about the school's storied basketball team.
On Tuesday evening, though, a new chapter began for the former New Jersey basketball superstar and, in turn, reminded us of how much fun last high school basketball season was and how much fun the upcoming one will be.
Every now and then, we are able to scout out players destined for the big-time before they arrive there. Well, Kidd-Gilchrist arrived. The freshman started for Kentucky, as the No. 2 college program in the nation upended Kansas, 75-65, at Madison Square Garden.
One of four athletes featured on the cover of MSG Varsity The Magazine last winter, Kidd-Gilchrist scored 12 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists.
He did enough for Dick Vitale to mention St. Patrick High School multiple times, while dubbing its most recent famous alumnus one of the top-five freshmen in the nation.
Kidd-Gilchrist was clad in a blue No. 14 jersey – different from his old white and green No. 31 Celtics uniform -- and showed off his energy, the same energy that made him one of the most talented hoopsters the Garden State has ever seen on the high school circuits.
Such was evident when he pulled down a rebound off a missed free throw and aggressively laid the ball though the net when the game was already won with 1:10 left. From start to finish, former St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle taught.
"I kind of see Mike as the Kevin Garnett of high school basketball,” Boyle once said. "He’s a terrific all-around player who can play multiple positions. He can score from anywhere on the floor, rebound, block, defend, play in the post. You name it. He’s the best you’ll see at filling up the stat sheet."
As a senior in 2010-11, the 6-foot-7 small forward helped St. Patrick to a No. 1 national ranking throughout most of the campaign before falling to its rival. While churning out double-double after double-double, he earned a spot on the All-American team for the third straight year, and then was awarded the McDonald’s All-American Game’s co-MVP in Chicago during the spring.
All of those credentials went with him down South. And as the starting lineups were announced on this night, the night Kidd-Gilchrist came back home, his name echoed off the walls of the world’s most famous arena the way they did in tiny gymnasiums throughout North and Central Jersey the previous four years.
Fiery coach John Calipari has entrusted Kidd-Gilchrist to join fellow freshman Anthony Davis in anchoring a young starting lineup. Anybody who knew his former coach, a pulsating leader in his own right, can safely assume Kidd-Gilchrist has been well-groomed in the area of pleasing the man calling the shots on the sideline.
So there he was, all grown up, running up and down the floor in New York City with that new Kentucky jersey, looking like the Kidd-Gilchrist we knew.
He is no longer one of the shining stars we get to watch in our own backyard throughout the winter; there are plenty more athletes to step in that role throughout the 2011-12 season. But it’s always fun to think back, with a little help from the spectacular things we see in front of us.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter
Relive the days of Mike Kidd-Gilchrist making headlines at MSG Varsity