What a life. What a year. It’s February 2nd, 2013. 7:03PM. During this time last year, I was, nobody. Literally. A couple people knew of me, I had been broken up w/ a girl for six months that I had been with for a year and some change, I was being contacted by several college coaches, but I did not want to go to any of their schools because they were mid major schools and I was tired of people two staring me, mid major projecting me, and writing about me saying I wasn’t good enough to play high major. I worked too hard to play mid major. It wasn’t insult to me, it was just something I felt like I had to prove to myself. Forget the politics. And eventually I ended up doing that and now I’m Mr. big time going to the University of Southern California (USC). And I’ve seen a lot of changes. In people. In my work ethic. In my supposedly “friends”. In my family. In my social life. It’s clear to me that a name with big brand is a bigger name than a name with low brand. Sometimes I wish everyone looked at me as the 5’8 freshman kid that shot 22 shots a game, averaged 29 points, led all freshman in the country in scoring, led the state in scoring, made All-State, didn’t make the conference tournament, and lost in the quarter finals of the state tournament because he lacked leadership and an IQ for the game of basketball and had zero scholarship offers. Sometimes I wish they knew me off the court. Away from the stat sheet. Away from the YouTube highlights. Away from those three letters: USC. But I guess that’s how the world works. Funny how before I had those three letters in the same sentence as my name, the same people who would walk by me, talk bad about me, doubt me, and could care less about me are suddenly calling me “best friend”, “bestie”, wanna text me, and want to be apart of my life. And I’m the coolest guy to walk the earth, so I act like they ain’t just walk past me the day before I signed my national letter of intent to USC. I guess I just knew how things would turn out all along. I knew that the same ones that dissed me would be the same ones that missed me. I knew that those that walked by me would forget about whoever I was to them or in their eyes before, and quickly change and treat me like I’m a hero, now. I knew. And I never stressed about it, I just wrote about it. It’s funny. And it’s mostly females. And believe me, I love me a female. And y’all are all my family if you’re reading this so I’m gonna tell y’all everything from my heart as I always have in these pieces. And to be honest, I’ve been DM’ing girls and trying to get to know a hand count of beautiful girls that I’ve never seen before in my life on twitter and on Instagram. And all my bio’s say that I’m going to USC, from Hartford, Connecticut to LA, and so on and so forth right. And most of them I know I wouldn’t have a chance with. Just because I’m 17 and live in Connecticut. Most of them live in California, go to USC, or are going to USC w/ me so I won’t see them until I get there permanently. The other couple of them aren’t college girls. But they are all soooooo beautiful. The type to make you follow them just to see their faces or their AVI pictures. And I’m not that sexual dog type. Although I’ve gotten to know or tried to get to know several girls, never was for sex. Always was curious of their life’s behind the beauty they possess. Because those are the people who go through the ugly: the beautiful ones. And I know that I’m blessed with the ability to listen, understand, reflect, and advice to the point where a girl may look at me and say “he’s different, I like him” and if she spends enough time getting to know me and sharing w/ me then eventually she loves me. I’m just blessed with that. And I know that. But how many girls do you know will reply back to some random guy on these social networks. Especially the really beautiful ones. I mean they get so much attention already from every guy, all sorts of guys, and they’ve heard it all. Why is she replying to me? Because she read my bio. Actually one girl, DM’d me first. Saying “I couldn’t help but see that you’re going to USC”. And to me it was her congratulating me, but without that in my bio, who I am to such a beautiful girl like you who lives miles away from me and is a complete stranger to you? And I’ve been completely baffled by it. I’ve embraced it for the most part, but it really shows me how the world works. You’re judged by production. If you aren’t inspiring others or have something for others to gain from then you mean nothing to the world until your meaning, or something, is proven. And it took me 16 to almost 17 years of my life to become something and realize that. Some it takes longer. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I knew it’d happen this way and that I seen it all coming. I mean think about it, y’all don’t think I’ve messaged beautiful girls older than me or around my age before I was nobody? Y’all think they replied? No. And some still don’t. But guess what? I know that when I blow up in LA, they will. That’s just how it goes. I follow beautiful people and get to know beautiful people because are generation labels them as most relevant. You never see a big girl modeling a dress for a clothing company or brand and you never see an ugly face on TV modeling make up items, proactive items, or anything. It’s always the cute, athletic body, and sexy population that receives those opportunities because our generation believes that that’s the most relevant. So I follow beauty of those similarities, just for extra motivation. Just to remember that I’m trying to get to a level where I can have any girl of that “relevant” caliber. Because once I’m there, I’ve made it. And I’ve made all childhood dreams come true. Not that having one of those girls is a dream or goal, just that I know where I came from and if I can attract them, then I know mean MORE and I know I’m still rising higher and higher into the sky of potential God has me beneath and challenges me to work my way up to. And I know I’ll get to the top. But that’s just a little something to stir to brain of you guys. Make you think a little bit about society and all. I mean you guys did read Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic, Vegas: I Did It, and Red and Yellow, didn’t you? If you didn’t, scroll down my blog and read those very very long, pieces. I don’t think you’ll see where I’m going w/ this piece, without it reading those first. Well, maybe you’ll get the messages within this piece without those pieces. I don’t know. But long as I reach you guys, that’s all that matters to me. That is what good literature is all about, right?
As I said before, I know my future. I have a document saying I’d accomplished everything I’ve accomplished today, before I accomplished it. Most of it comes from my relationship with God. The other 10% comes from my work ethic and belief that good things happen to those who wait. And it’s been that “waiting” that has always messed with me, forever. You can see it in my previous pieces; patience has always been a very difficult process for me. And it’s never a couple days. It’s always weeks and weeks of waiting to get what I deserve. And through those weeks I’m refreshing my twitter log, exploring the Internet, and reading about how this person got this, this player got this, and that player is this and that. Through those weeks I’m watching people, who I know don’t work harder than me, get better results than me. I’m watching myself frown, complain, and pout as if I’m not going to USC to play basketball. I’m watching myself google myself every time I’m near a computer, just to see what people have new to say about me. I’m watching myself check rankings, as if I’ll ever be ranked. I’m watching myself talk to those “relevant” girls I mentioned in the introduction, as if they’ve been in my since before I had nothing. I’m watching myself slip up on my academic reports and go to school late everyday because I’m oversleeping. I’m watching myself starve myself, and not eat 3 meals a day just because eating is the last thing on my mind. I’m watching myself fold. And the only thing that keeps me straight is my past. And my past showed me that when I’m patient and continue to work my ass off, everything I deserve will be given to me when God feels I am ready. And I know that, and I know it’s him. But damn. I’m so unhappy today. February 2nd, 2013 7:48PM, I am UNHAPPY. I’m alone every weekend. I go through these things by myself just because mentally I’m THAT strong. I mean everybody want to walk in my shoes and be “big time”. They tell me I’m their idol and wanna know how I got this good. It’s not just basketball. Look. It’s a life. And it’s only committed to those who have patience on the road they are traveling. And I’m on the road less traveled. To be honest, I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else. Especially when I know that my destination is so close to me. But I’m unhappy, why am I unhappy when I know I’m gonna get what I deserve? Why does not seeing me ranked, upset me when I’m going high major and will be playing in the same conferences and NCAA tournaments as all of those guys? Why does me scoring twenty-nine points at the HoopHall Classic on January 19th, getting the player of the game award, yet losing my twenty-seven points, shooting 9/24, causing me not to be talked about by those big scouting reports that I’ve been dying to perform in front of, hurt so much? Why did all the top performers that were listed of the HoopHall Classic this year score less than me? Why does reading about a player that had 30 or 40 points hurt me after I just scored 29 points in 2 in and a half quarters and shot over 60%? It hurts. It really does. And it’s not that I’m jealous or a hater. I believe everybody should get what they deserve. And I respect every single player in the country that’s “talked” about. I even ask them for advice, follow them on twitter, Instagram, and everything just to see how they carry themselves and compare it to myself so I can add their personalities and parts of what make them who they are, into who I am and will become. But none of them work harder than me. And I know they don’t. And lord knows they don’t. I know that’s bias to say, but I know it’s true because I work when I’m “suppose” to be sleeping. They say “someone is always working while you’re sleeping”, well I don’t sleep. I can’t even get to school on time. I’m too busy thinking about my future, when it’ll get here, and when I’ll get what I deserve. And to be honest, if you asked me what I deserved, I couldn’t tell you until I got it. Because I have USC, I have those beautiful girls numbers, I have the recognition, I have the popularity, I have the kids looking up to me, I have people who care about me, I have God, and I have everything I need to get over bumps in this road. So I couldn’t tell you. I mean clearly I’m growing up. I’m becoming a man. And I’m mature enough to look in the mirror or close my eyes and tell myself that I’m worrying about the wrong things. I’m concerned with things that I shouldn’t even be worried about. Long as my team is winning games, I’m improving as a person, keeping my grades right, being good to people, praying, staying focused, staying humble and still working my ass off, everything should be all smiles, right? Wrong. I am my biggest critic. I should be destroying everyone I play against. I work too hard. It’s my senior year. I’ll never play high school basketball again. I mean, this is it. And I feel like, so far, I’m not going out with that bang that I’ve trained to go out and prepare for USC with. Yes I’m improving. Tremendously. I am the best I’ve ever been as a player and as a person. I averaged 29 my freshman year and was shooting over 20 shots, while playing the entire game (never really came out). I’ve scored 28 or more in several games this year and shot less than 20 shots, while playing less minutes. So the growth is there on the court. And off the court everyone comes to me for advice, love, care, support and I’m able to use the blessings I have with overwhelming, charming, and motivational, yet honest words, and I’m also able to take criticism, and fight my way through all problems I may be going through in my head. I never speak of these things, ya know. Not even my stats. If you look at my social network history, you can see that I never speak of stats or other teams. I’ve matured into, this, person that I believe God always saw me becoming. And as I look back at where I came from, I can’t help but smile when I think of how life with USC on my chest will be. But I’m unhappy. It’s the timing, I guess. The patience. The dedication I have toward getting those results. It’s not that I wait for them, it’s just that, when I need them the most, they don’t come. And from experience, I know God is always on time. Never early. Never late. And KNOWING these things, defines me. Now that I think about it, I think it’s doubt. Can you believe it? Kahlil Dukes is doubting himself. Me either. I don’t believe that, at all. I think these experiences hurt me so much that, a part of me worries. And I’ve been here before, ya know. Mohegan Sun, championship game last year, lost by fourteen and shot what, 6/18 from the field? And although a part of me didn’t want to be alive at that point, I kind of remember that that the most important part of that year would be the AAU season; when I’d play in front of college coaches and get the high major offers I’d been training for. And it was hard for me to think positive after that lost. But I had to believe that it’d get everything I deserve. And I cried. And I kept working, praying, and a five weeks later I had an offer from USC. I think that experience has a lot to do with who I am as a person and player today. I can play bad. I can be challenged. I can get through things, just because I got through that. And the only messed up thing about it is, I end up getting too comfortable with my future. I played alright before HoopHall. But because of how big the game was and who’d I be playing in front of me, I felt like I’d get everything I deserved on that day. I felt like that was the game because my last experiences told me that when it’s time to show up big, God and I are on the same page. But this time, we aren’t, and he seems to have plans for me bigger than HoopHall, rankings, tweets, scouting services, 30 points, 40 points, or what have you. And it’s not that I feel I should be spoiled or I should be perfect. I just feel like, I deserve those things. Ya know? I mean I have a Kahlil Dukes Basketball Academy (my own basketball camp) that’s helping four freshman learn how I got where I am today (signed to play at an NCAA school), I’m making everyone smile when they are down (even people I don’t know on social networks), I’m making sure everyone in my phone is harmless and loving, I’m making sure all my teammates are happy, I’m making sure my grades are where they need to be, I’m making sure I lead, I’m making sure I continue to inspire and grow, I’m making sure everyone who comes to me for help and advice gets the best of me and wakes up with the same smile and extra push I gave them to go to sleep with, I’m praying every night for the RIGHT things (and I never shared what I actually pray with anyone, but I will share it today):
“Dear lord, watch over me. Keep me safe, outta trouble, away from danger. Help me get as much sleep as I can, keep me healthy, safe (said twice), under control. Help me continue to work hard. Hard work pays off. Can’t expect more when you put in less work so I want you to keep pushing me, keep challenging me. I’ma keep pushing and challenging myself to go behind my potential. When it’s time to put on a show on the basketball court, help me go out there and do what I trained to do, be a leader, get everybody on the same page and wanna win as bad as me. Help me go out there and put on for my city, put on for SC, show everybody who SC, show everybody who’s gonna be a lottery pick in the next couple of years, do whatever it takes to win, and be a killer. Help me to out there a f**k them up every time. Thank you for for dying for me. Thank you for blessing me. Thank you for giving me the chance to see another day. Thank you for giving me basketball, literature, giving me the ability to make people smile, make people laugh, enlightens people’s day, enlightened people’s lives, share knowledge, share advice, learn from people, teach people, and just be there for people who need me or need somebody to help them. Thank you for forgiving me for my sins. Thank you for challenging me, for pushing me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for guiding me, thank you for raising me (since my dad didn’t), thank you for getting me where I am now, making me the person I am in my life, thank you for giving me obstacles and challenges to get through and helping me get through them. Thank you for giving me rewards, success, thank you for giving me tests, thank you for the bright future you have ahead of me and just thank you in general. Watch over everybody I love, everybody I care about, that you know I love and care about (used to say names but my circle has changed so much, I just pray for everybody who’s in my circle that I love and who I love that may not be in my circle anymore), watch over all my family, my mom, my coaches, and my teammates. Watch over the whole SC, Trojan faithful. Watch over the whole Capital Prep. Help me make the right decision, say the right things, be there for others, keep making people smile, making people day, keeping people’s faith in you and keeping people’s faith in themselves. Just help me keep pushing, keep working, staying patient, working hard, staying focused, staying humble, staying patient (said twice). I know it’s coming. Just help me embrace it. Thank you. I love you. Amen.”
And I say this prayer every night. If I don’t get the chance to one night, I say the prayer TWICE the next night to make up for it. And I’m doing everything I pray for him to help me keep doing. All the right things. And I believe that he tests me because I’m one of his best students. Ya know they say he gives his toughest battles to his stringers soldiers, right? And the ironic thing is, I am a Trojan aren’t I? Lol So for those who question my decision and whether or not I should decommit because KO was fired, forget that. I worked hard and God knew what he was doing. But ya gotta think, what am I not doing right? I’m in pain. I’m unhappy. And I know I’ll be happy in the end. I KNOW. But just because the doctor tell you that you gone live don’t mean them wounds don’t hurt. Pain is pain. I wake up from dreams and can’t go back to sleep because I’m procrastinating about what God is putting me through. I can’t sleep. I can’t get up for school! And everyone is upset with me because I’m tardy and want to know why I can’t get to school on time. My mom says it’s because I don’t turn my phone off. And I say “I overslept”. But I don’t mention any of this stuff because I know no one cares. Even you reading this don’t care. You’re reading this because you’re interested in seeing how I got where I am today, not because you care about what I go through mentally everyday. Maybe you do care, I don’t know, but everyone I’m surrounded by everyday doesn’t so don’t take that personal. I’m just unhappy, ya know. My mom asked me if I was depressed the other day. I smiled and said “no”. Even though she only asked because I haven’t been eating. But as I said before, eating is the last thing on my mind. And it’s crazy cuz like, no one is here to help me get through these things at night or help me sleep. Or talk to me about this. And yeah, people ask “what’s wrong” but I don’t bother telling them because I KNOW they won’t understand. I know no one else has taken this bumpy road and knew that the road will smoothen if they just kept driving and kept pushing down in the pedal. And I’m there for everyone else. With advice and all. Ya know sometimes I find myself looking for answers that I already have. My own advice comes in handy a lot. Those who look up to me ask me about results from hard work and say they are taking too long, they tell me they don’t think they are ever coming and that God isn’t answering their prayers. They tell me that everything is going how it should be. And I tell them to be patient and keep working because just when you think it’s not gonna come, it’ll come. I even have a poster on my wall of me that my cousin made that says, “When you work hard and develop patience, you will always succeed”. And I give advice and stuff and sometimes even I forget my own advice. It’s even useful to me. I guess I found myself stuck on things that weren’t most important. The year I captured my high major offer from USC, I focused on everything that was most important in my life and gave up things that were least important. I gave up sleep to workout in mornings, I gave up having fun because I was always thinking about the future I was giving up and sacrificing, maturing and training so hard for, and I gave up love (my girlfriend). I wrote poetry, I wrote music, I stayed inside. I was always either home or in a gym. Just so that I wasn’t “waiting”. I was occupied. I think now, I KNOW I’ma get what I deserve so I don’t give up as much as I used too and I’m not as occupied. I just wait and stress myself about when it’ll finally come now. It’s 9:07PM now by the way. And I’ve deleted my twitter app. I’m tired of searching for my name to see who’s talking or tweeting about me and seeing nothing new. I know it’s God working. I’m tired of seeing everyone else succeeding and being talking about that don’t work harder than me. I’ve been through that before, the day of the Mohegan Sun incident when I watched teams jump in celebration around the court for a state title that I deserved. I know it’s God working. And I wanted to write this piece when the results and everything I deserved finally got here like I used to, just for a better ending to the piece. But this time, I won’t. This time, I want you guys to take my heart and my thoughts, on and off the court, and see what I go through. And you could never tell. I mean I don’t tweet about anything or complain publicly. If you saw me at home alone, you’d think I was anti-social and depressed. Lol I mean, when I’m around people, I’m silly and you see that “fun” side of me. Everyone loves being around me (mostly everyone). And I feel like people follow me on twitter, Instagram, Facebook and read all these posts about my success. All the retweets I retweet about the positive things people tweet about me (even the negative), all the Facebook posts of news articles and highlight videos, all the Instagram pictures of me smiling and taking pictures with fans and people who admire me, and then the USC thing is just icing on the cake. And I think people look at me and see only those things. And that’s on me because I portray that image of myself, as if everyone is all good and that I am living “the life”, or on the verge of “making it”. And I am, I’m on the right path. I know I am. But it’s not easy. It really isn’t. And every day I can tell why so many talented people lose hope, get caught up in the streets, lose interest, lose work ethic, lose that “want” in making it, and end up wasting their talent. It’s hard. Ya know. It really is. When I was nobody, I thought that when I did get to where I am today, it’d be easier. But man, I was so so wrong. It’s harder than it’s ever been. And it shouldn’t be. I don’t deserve these things. I mean look at what I’m doing. I was just on TV for my basketball camp that’s helping those four freshman I mentioned earlier in this piece. Fox 61 News did an entire story on my academy, and my growth as a person and player since my freshman year. I’m growing. I’m evolving into God’s plans for me. And every other day I am reminded of why I am here and why I must continue to keep going no matter how tough God is being on me. I can see myself, changing. Although I try to act like everything is okay with my array of jokes, laughter, and my “Floyd Mayweather smile” that I always display on my Instagram and while I’m around people in public. But, I’m unhappy. Ya know, and I’ve been watching interviews of the most famous and successful people as of late in our world. From music artists, to actors, to athletes. And they all mean more to me than their success. Because when they speak, I know they’re telling a side to them that people won’t necessarily care about or pay as much attention to as they would if they were performing, or doing their profession. Music Artist, Nicki Manaj, did an interview on Hot 97 talking about how important your circle and those around you are, how politics try and make things up, and more. That spoke to me a lot and helped me prepare for who I wanna be. Skylar Diggins, senior point guard of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish Women’s basketball team did an interview with the school about how she’s grown over the years, why she picked Notre Dame, how much of a family it is on campus, her image and how people view her, life on the road as a college athlete and she also spoke about her goals going forward. And what stood out to me wasn’t how beautiful she is, or how good she is, but how she manages these things and stays focused on what’s most important. She was asked about Lil Wayne’s interest in her and she replied that all that mattered most to her was that the “best rapper live” was watching women’s college basketball. She also was asked about if she’d rather be viewed for her basketball skills rather than her beauty sometimes, and she mentioned that her beauty came from her mom, and she doesn’t care why they watch, as long as they watch because as long she’s bringing attention to the game she loves. And that really made me think about what’s most important to me. Ya know, is it myself, or is my team winning? Is it getting to know all of these beautiful girls that wouldn’t care about me if I wasn’t at USC, or couldn’t make them feel special whenever I wanted to and probably will never get the chance to meet in person, or is it the girls that “mean” the most to me and will support me in becoming who I want to become in life? Is it sleep, or is it getting to school on time? Is it continuing to lead through my own individual frustration, or is it worrying about myself because I’m not getting what I deserve whenever I want to get it? And now that I think about it, it’s questions like this that a lot of people my age don’t ask themselves. They spend their teenage years “having fun” because you can’t get these years back. But what happens when “fun time” turns to “no time”? What happens when your teenage life is over and you’ve had so much “fun” focusing on things that WERE NOT MOST IMPORTANT like smoking weed, getting drunk, getting high, staying up all night (vamping), Instagram, twitter hashtags, sex, love, a friend you lost, a love you lost, a brake up, parties, some rumor about you going around the school, reality television, the newest pair of Jordan’s or any other sneaker you’d get up @ 4AM and sit outside in the cold for but won’t get up @ 6AM for school, and things like that when you should be worried about the things that ARE MOST IMPORTANT like your family, your grades, that next big exam, SAT’s, ACT’s, scholarships, making a difference, finding yourself, having the right people in your circle, watching what you eat, drink, staying healthy, staying active in the community, planning who you wanna become, executing that plan and having a positive impact on those around you while getting yourself into college. I mean at least there, and by that time, you’re an adult and can party, sex, flunk out, and do whatever you want. But it really made me think: do people really wanna KNOW what it took for me to get here? Ya know they say “if it was easy, everyone would do it”, and it’s true. And boy do I want this life I’m heading toward. And I know I’ma get it. But it took all of the above. All of the thought, all of the hard work, all of the struggle, frustration, time alone, maybe even my jealousy of others, failure, prayer, hope and faith even when it felt like God was ain’t give a damn how depressed I was, dedication, love, care, and being there for others, and everything else I mentioned. It took ALL of those things. Scroll down and read everything I wrote prior to this piece. It took ALL of that too. Without it, I wouldn’t know anything. Ya know, sometimes I feel like God doesn’t want the things I want, for me. I’ve been learning that what’s most important to him, isn’t what’s most important to me. And as long as I can figure out what’s most important in my life, I’ll be happy. Hopefully then, I’ll pass his test and he’ll give me everything I deserve. Now that I thin about it, maybe that IS his test; figuring out what’s most important and sticking with it. It only makes sense. I mean, I do know I’ll get everything I deserve. Some life, isn’t it?
I mean, everything isn’t always what it seems.
That us until, I’ve made it.
And I’m on my way, as my high school coach (Coach Levy) told me the other day.
I know I’ma do it y’all.
However this piece won’t end with an “I did it” or something happy.
This piece will leave you with knowledge of Kahlil Dukes, knowledge of life, and it’ll probably leave you thinking about your own life and how important you are. I mean I’ve been thinking about others lives as well (if I haven’t made that clear yet) and people are committing suicide. I mean, is life really that hard? Can it be? Hard to enough to kill yourself? And my cousin and I laugh about it, saying “he bodied hisself?” or “she bodied herself?”. Not because of the killing but because it sounds funny when we saw it out loud. But it made me think, does God really test people THAT hard? Have they even found what they wanna be? Do they even KNOW or have a plan for their futures? I mean, I do, and it’s TOUGH being in my shoes. Ya know, and I know kids would die to me in my shoes but man. I mean, they wanna walk in my shoes, but they struggle to tie the laces. It’s funny because I felt that way before. And God and I put myself through hell to hell here. And although I say “I KNOW” I’ma make it, it’s just trust in God, my work ethic, this path, and everything else I’ve mentioned, I don’t know WHEN I’ll make it. I mean, only lord knows, right? And no one is documenting me, so I feel as though the only way you guys can see how I made it, is with my writing. With this piece. This piece here, and the pieces below this piece. These are my 30 for 30. Lol And I plan on majoring in cinematic arts at USC so who know, maybe I’ll be able to write my own documentary or movie about how I got to where I’m going, ya know. But hey, it’s just a goal, a place to get. And I’ma keep KNOWING I’ma accomplishing my goals and KNOWING I’ma get there, until I’m there.
I pray to God I can continue to inspire you all, to do the same.
The Knowing. (Finished @ 10:07PM)
The Real Me: Off the Court
No matter what they say about me, what they think, how they feel, or how they talk about me, I always remain true to who I truly am. Defining me isn’t even easy for me. I am the upmost complicated, simple, literal, heartfelt and mind boggling person you could ever meet. And I blame all my mistakes or wrongdoings on immaturity. I’m appreciative of all who have graced my life no matter what my actions or words have ever said against that. And I am the friendliest and coolest dude you could ever meet. A lot of people think I act differently around certain people but I’m adjustable. I have a personality trait for every audience or group of people I’m around. I’m silly, I’m serious, I’m rude, I’m polite, I’m generous, I’m aggressive, I’m alone, I’m with people, I’m giving, I don’t like sharing, and I’m loving yet tentative. Depends on who I’m around. I don’t believe anyone who says they never changed. With success, you have to change in someway. Maybe it’s not your generosity or ability to love and care. But your circle tightens up, your patience gets a little more intense, and your heart gets cooler every heart breaking incident. I’m able to maintain these things, persevere, train to achieve, and then achieve while I share my story at the same time. And to all my friends, I’m the best friend they ever had. From the girls to my boys. And all my girlfriends, they all would say I was the best thing that ever happen to them. Yeah some would say, “the worse thing” as well but I don’t mind being the person who had to hurt you to improve you as a young women and girlfriend. God has me alive not only to learn but to teach. So I don’t mind that. You will always love me though because that’s all I ever was, was love. To everybody. They ask me for a follow, I follow back. I can never say no to almost anybody. I care for everyone, I love everybody no matter how serious they take that word because of what’s happen to them in their lives, and I support everybody in my life in their decisions. I’m very strict. I’m cool with everyone but not everybody is my friend. I’ll treat you like we friends but if someone asked, I’d tell them “we cool”. I don’t have many friends because I believe that my friends have to know me better than I know me, love me better than the next friend, support me better than my last friend, be there for me like my family would be, be as trustworthy as the man upstairs, be real and honest with me like God will be at the gate, and believe in me like I believe in my future. Ain’t too many people like that so I don’t have many friends. But I would give anybody the best advice, best support, appreciation, love, and comfort they could ask me for because that’s just me. I never looked at my blessings as a flaw. I’m blessed with the ability to make any girl laugh, smile, trust, believe, and love me with my charm and honesty. I never looked at it as a flaw or as flirting because I know that I’m not intending on getting anything in return or being a boyfriend to them as of yet because I don’t know much about them. But I do know that everybody is beautiful in their way and why not be at your best and smile, at least that’s how I see it. Some take advantage of it or see it as the “same” they’ve heard and seen and I understand that and respect it. If I was hurt by the same words someone else tells me, I wouldn’t trust them so early either. But hey, at least I made you smile and that’s what God wanted me to do. I try to stay true to me and him, while knowing that he’ll give me everything in return if I use his blessings off the court to be good to people. Never look at Kahlil Dukes as a dog, or some guy with a bunch of girls, or some dude with no friends, or a loner, or the same. I’m in my own world and everything I do is because I’m setting myself up for clear skies on my way to the moon. I know where I’m going in the future. I just want to make sure I did it the right way. I want to make sure everybody loved me coming up, so that I have no problems with everybody loving me once I make it. I want to make sure that all my girlfriends loved me and thought I was perfect, so that when they’re married or with whoever they are with me after me, all they can do is think of me and look for something better than me. Not because it makes me feel good, but because then they’re making better decisions with who they share their hearts with and they end up happier with that guy than they ever were with me. And to me that’s all that matters. I want to make sure God looks at me and says “you used all my blessings to your advantage and you helped me take some days off from making people’s days by making their days yourself”. He knows I hate days off. Lol I want to make sure I make it with the right circle and with as less problems with other people around me, as possible. I want to make sure you love me, not because I made it, but because of who I am. This is Kahlil Dukes. The real me, off the court.
Red and Yellow
August 21, 2012 - 10:03AM
There comes a time where you have to just sit back and watch, think, and rest. Me, I could never do that. I’ve worked and trained everyday since August 1, 2011, it’s August 21, 2012, that’s a year. I don’t know what it feels like to rest, and I don’t want to because every time I’m not working out all I can think about is who’s working harder than me, who’s better than me, letting my city down, letting myself down, not making it, coming up short, and apart of me feels worried that I’m satisfied with where I am and too comfortable. Therefore I hate resting. That’s why all I do is workout and sleep. The sleep doesn’t necessarily count as resting because I’m going to sleep even when I don’t want to, naturally. And soon as I’m up, all I’m thinking about is working out. I was told to take days off throughout the year, to rest my body, to relax and to rest but I was too in love with hard work and the results it brings. I felt like sacrificing and making decisions I don’t usually make (playing pick up instead of taking the day off) would all pay off. And I was right, it always pays off. However, after all those people I disobeyed when they told me to take the day off, there came a moment where God told me to. And sooner or later, whether or not I could make the decision to take the day off on my own, wasn’t up to me, anymore.
It’s August 20th and I haven’t worked out all day. Actually I’m suppose to be working someone else out to help them get where they wanna be but so far they have had other priorities in which I never knew about, it seemed like. And during all those priorities, not working out was eating me alive. It was all I could think about. I was literally watching the sun go down and set. However I tried not to let it show, even though for about an hour, I hadn’t really talked. I’m somewhere I don’t wanna be.
By the time I finally get the chance to be where I wanna be and workout, I realize that my only option came at 9 o’clock at night. But when you’re as in love as I am, it doesn’t matter, I’m working out. And so I get out of the car to grab my basketball, roll my ankle soon as I got out. But it’s night time, so no one saw. But I hadn’t thought about it until later that night, that was God’s first warning. But I brush it off, I’m going to workout, I rolled my ankle before, no biggie. Hop in the car and off to the park. And all I can think of is working out but I can hear what’s being said in the car. “Why are you going to workout this late?” “What if there’s people there?” and all these other things. But the workout is all that matters to me, I’m allergic to days off and I don’t wanna feel those feelings I listed in the introduction above. So I get there, and there’s people there playing pick up. I second guess it. A comment is made, “What are you going to get out of playing here? Nothing but a twisted ankle” due to the competition. That was warning number two from God. But to me, anything is better than nothing, long as I don’t take the day off, my workout on this night would be to not lose. When I play pick up, “not losing” is my workout. And so even though even though my conscious is telling me not to go, my heart is telling me that not going means I’m taking the day off, and that can’t happen. Not now. Besides, I hate it. So I get out the car anyway, and call next. First play with the ball, I slip and shoot the ball off balance due to the slip, shot comes up short, and I just get back on defense. But if you think about it, people rarely slip on concrete outside that isn’t wet. I guess that was God’s third warning. But I brush it off. My next time with the ball, I hit a three, but the very next possession I let a shot go going to my right. And every time I’m going to my right, I trained to fade a little bit and kick my right leg up a bit. When I do that, I end up coming down on one leg (left foot). And so on my way down, I twist my left ankle on my defenders foot. I’ve rolled my ankle before, as I said before, so I figured I could brush it off and play. But this one felt different. And when I tried to run, I knew it was something serious.
And so sitting down in pain caused me to be in a very familiar position. Ice. But this was a pain in which I couldn’t walk. And sprains only get worse if you aren’t icing. And the pain only gets worse if you’re not sitting still. The throbbing killed. I never felt this before. But I didn’t cry, I didn’t pout, I didn’t mope. I just told myself that I’ve felt worse pain, emotionally, and that I’d get through it. But I begin to think on what led to me being here. I thought of those three warnings God gave me. And how I disobeyed them because I’m too in love with the results of hard work and hate those feelings I listed in the introduction. And I’m in the dark. But there are two glows, glowing out of the darkness. First, I see a red glow, from the tv. Indicating that the television is off, obviously. But there was more to it, I thought. Second, I see a yellow glow, from the time on the cable box. Okay, I thought. Red glow, yellow glow. Red and yellow. Where’s the green? No green. And as we all know, red means stop and yellow means yield or slow down. And those are two things I hadn’t done all year. With the success I was getting, from my first basketball scholarship offer August 1, 2011, to my 51 point game in December and more offers had came through, to my 30 point game while in Boston in December as well in front of ESPN Boston, of course my performance that led my high school teammates to the state championship, my life changing in April in Vegas when I score 41 and receive a scholarship offer from Southern California, and to my commitment in July to that school and the love I got from it, there was nothing telling me to stop throughout that year of events because I hadn’t accomplished the ultimate goal, which was to get drafted in the NBA Draft. So stopping never crossed my mind. There was no way I could stop, by myself. Something else had to stop me. And God knew, so he slowed me down and stopped me himself. Red and yellow. So I’ll be away from workouts for a couple weeks. But, at least I know that when I see that green, it’s on.
Finished, August 21, 2012 - 10:50AM
Blocking much light
Can shine bright
Can dim dark
Although shine’s our prophecy
Either shine or don’t
Two helpers there on each side
Pull, twist or you won’t
Pull down why don’t you
Go get your shine
The dark lies for the weak
The light’s sweet as wine
These blinds blocked shine
So they were pulled and twisted
And a sudden light shined
Too bright, to miss it
It was this moment here
Where I got down in my soul
And told myself that I
Was in full control
(Written June 26, 2012)
July 23rd, 10:40PM and I’m icing the bones that prevented me from performing at my highest level in Philadelphia last week. It was a rough week for me. Played bad. One game I didn’t even score double digits. Head just wasn’t in it. It was just an awful feeling for me. And we lost three games, all games I could have taken over so I take the blame for all of them. Although the last one, I was hurt. But I had a conversation with my AAU coach, Coach Smith, who I love, about how I had been playing. And he told me “you f**ked up yesterday” and I said “I know”. And he goes on about how I didn’t takeover when it was time and how I didn’t make the decisions I needed to make when it was winning time. Also added how I needed to stop pouting and crying when I don’t get the ball and just play my game. And I agreed because it was killing my performance. But what got to me was when he told me “why are you here? You have everything you wanted. You got the scholarships. Why are you playing?” and I said “to get more” and he said “no, you don’t need more. You need to be trying to be the best player you can be”. And this got to me because he was right. Then he mentions “McDonalds All-American?” and I smile. But he says that I need to be able to lead and will my guys to wins, play my game and when it’s time to takeover, takeover because when we win, I get all the glory. And he’s right. And after that conversation I played the next game exactly that way, and we won the next two games and he told me “excellent job, that’s how you are suppose to play” and I just kept it up and everything was good. But little did I know, my feet were slowly bruising. The top of my foot had these bruises and the bones got soar and pressed up against my sneaker, causing pain just by standing. I had these bruises on both feet and a swollen big toe from Indiana that I hadn’t iced. That’s why I’m icing now because I have to be 100% for Vegas. But I never had bruised bones in my feet before so I figured God planned it, he just didn’t want to give me the love in Philly I was playing for, so soon. And it hurt, so I wrote the piece “Untilted”, to reflect on it a little bit. But I know that he’s always on time. Never too late. Never too early. And I’m with him. I’m blasting this NAS Life is Good album, all the way through. It’ll carry me until this live period exits, although my “Kris Dunn” playlist has been my GoTo all AAU season. But it’s been a journey you know. The “Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic” put my life from my freshman year to April 2012 in perspective for everyone to learn from, read, and be inspired by. The “July is For Kris: My Autobiography of June” really just gave a different perspective on how everything isn’t peaches and cream, it gets tough. Being young gave me many worries that I didn’t need to be worried about or that weren’t as important as I thought they were. Things like rankings, ratings, criticism, and peoples opinions of me all bothered me more than I should have let them but I used all of them as a motivational tool that I’d screw the game with you know. And so far, I have. But quietly, I’ve been after the BIG EAST offers. I’ve seen them at all the games, but I haven’t heard from them and I know I’m playing well. So I’m after those. I’ve been after them. I just want them. Not that I’ll take them, but I want them. Just to have. Like some people are with their collection of Jordan’s, you don’t need them but you have them anyway. That’s what I want with the BIG EAST. I got a call from USC (Southern California) earlier about who else has offered and I told them A10 and West Coast. But they always bring up the BIG EAST, saying that they are stupid and can’t realize that I’m a point guard and are looking at me as an undersize two guard so won’t offer me. But I am a point guard. I just play the two guard for my team, and I will play point guard in college. But I just took in what he said, and told myself to just go out there and play. This is the last dance for me. Vegas. After this, my AAU days are over. And my recruitment will rap up here. And I’ve gotten more offers but not high major nor have I gotten the attention and recognition I feel I deserve, but as I said before, God is never too late, and never too early. And I believe that he’s finally gonna have me what I deserve, this week, in Vegas. Although I led all players in Indiana at the Adidas Invitational in scoring, didn’t get to go farther in the tournament itself, played bad in Philly and had an injury, I know that God didn’t give me those things because he had something better planned for me. As much as I’ve trained and prayed, a year of thinking, up all night long, has now come to an end and everything I’ve trained for comes down to this week. My flight leaves @ 4:50PM tomorrow afternoon. I’ve deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps on my phone to stay focused on just playing and having fun this week because all year I’ve checked the social media and searched my name in things to see what people are saying. But this time, I won’t. I’m going to just play and trust that God will give me, everything I deserve. This is what I’ve waited patiently for, written about, and cried about as the images of doing it ran through my head.
This is what I’ve trained to experience. This is what God has planned for me. The miracle is here and my destiny, finally, awaits me.
The Plane Ride:
July 24th -on the plane.
From the airport to the plane.
Bumping this new Lloyd Banks mixtape; V6: The Gift. I’m up, with the where clouds is. And I can look down and see everything I’m leaving behind or have left behind. Five hour plane flight so, a lot of thoughts will go into this ride. I play tomorrow @ 7:40PM so I know my body will feel like its 10:40PM because of the 3 hour time difference. But I will be fine, I’ve trained for this. I’ve put my body through worse. And all I can think about, is playing. It’s almost here. Every time I stare into space out of this airplane window, I see everything I saw all those nights I laid in the dark. And it is, finally here.
July 25th - First game I start off slow vs Houston Hoopstars. I’ve seen them before. So they knew who I was and played me tough, physical, and made me really work for everything so I started off slow. After all, I haven’t played or shot a basketball since Philly since I was icing up but I’ve trained all year, so I felt like I could just come in and get into my rhythm but I didn’t. I miss my first four, but then I hit one and I played well the rest of the game. We won by 30. So I was past it. The night flies by.
The Dream - written 10AM July 26th: God delivers me this dream that night. And I found it pretty odd at first. I thought “what does this have to do with Vegas?”. Because the dream was about a girl I know. But the girl, was somebody that I wasn’t on good terms with as I was beginning the insane work ethic and mentality that I have today. And she became a bigger load everyday to the point where I said “I have to let her go”. And I did eventually. But at one point, we were arguing, and I had went outside to listen to music and dribble around the streets. And she had cried herself to sleep, so I left her. I thought “why is God even adding her to the equation? He knows how bad I want this new life I’m heading too. Why is she here if she’s gonna be as much of a distraction as she’s been?”. The song “Club Paradise” comes on by Drake. And he talks about his city a lot. And I look up at my city and think of where I’m going. And I begin to cry. And I scream “why?” to God. I scream “I’m ready, just give it to me now. I’m ready now. Just give it to me”. And I’m saying this alone outside through the night skies as my city brightens up the night. And the music is playing, I’m crying. “Tell me.. Who did I leave behind, you think it got to me. I can just read your mind. You think I’m so, caught up, in where, I am, right now. But believe I remember it all”, and I’m crying more to the point where the song is on repeat. And all I can think of is workouts, and my future, and how my city will react to me once I blow up. But I can remember saying “Give it to me now, I’m ready now”. And I wake up this morning, my second game is today. And my roommate has been singing Drake all morning, so I play that song and say “this what you need?” and he says “yessss”. So I play it. And instantly I think of that moment. That moment where I’m outside and she’s inside sleep, and I’m crying listening to the song. And I’m saying “I’m ready, just give it to me now. I just want to do it”. And so now that I think about it, God was giving me the dream of her, and that song to tell me that what I was saying on THAT very night, was finally gonna come. Maybe today. I play later on. So I’m hoping, it’s today. But if not today, then it’s gonna come. It was like he was telling me, “I remember what you say that night, and today I am going to grant that request and give it to you. You are ready”. Him and I have that relationship, where, he will give me signs and I will figure out the message. And I’m just hoping, that was, his message. As far as I’ve gone, last period of live period, no Mohegan, no more high major offers other than USC, no ranking, and no great game in front of the right people.. It only makes sense that he finally gives it to me, now. Right? Wasn’t too late, wasn’t too early. I just love him, and I love our relationship, and I just thank him, for everything he has planned for me. I told my roommate about it and he says that I shouldn’t try to understand God because he’s testing constantly. And what I see and may understand now may not be what I see and understand months from now. He also says that God doesn’t have to give me anything because he’s given me enough. He gives me the tools and I have to use them myself. I told him that I look at it the opposite way. I think God is giving me the tools to build, and he himself, will use them for me if I’ve done and served him and his world well. And I believe that. This is going to be HUGE ya heard.
My Next Dream - From what I remember, I was playing in a game and I was killing. And we won. And after the game my coach told me I played a lot better. And I tap someone on the hip after the game but I didn’t know who he was, I thought he was a coach. But then he’s like “this guy just touch me on my hip” and I ignore him like I don’t know he’s talking about me. And then he calls me out, “you, what’s your name” and I go, “Kahlil Dukes” and he says “you.. I don’t usually say guys are the best players on the floor but, you were.” And then he kind of drifts away as an allusion and I wake up.
The Conversation: And so we have an 8AM game on the morning of July 27th and I’m ready to go ya know. But suddenly, my coach decides to talk to me alone. And the conversation we have goes like this.
Coach: I gotta talk to you. Every time we lose you leave with your high school coach. You have to stay with these guys. We know that you lead so we tell them to follow but, where’s my leader when we lose? Another thing is, we lost that game because of you, we lost that game because of me. You have to will these guys to wins. Last time we were down here, you were a rockstar. I thought I was with a rockstar. You were a monster. But now that you’ve got the offers, you aren’t the same.
Me: I’m trying to keep them happy.
Coach: They will never be happy. You shouldn’t be trying to make them happy. Who should you be trying to make happy?
Coach: Right. They will never be happy. These guys are like women. They will never be satisfied. Don’t stop playing your game because they are crying and pouting. This is it for you. You don’t need to be worried about the small stuff, you can’t do anything about them. You have bigger things ahead of you. You just have to get there. But have a good game today.
Me: Thank you
Coach: You’re welcome.
And with that he basically wanted me to just go out there and kill and not worry about making my guys happy. Because that was hurting me. I was making passes I don’t usually make, and trying to do things I don’t normally do, and it was making me look bad. So him telling me that was something I, sort of, needed.
My next game was against D Rose AAU team, I start the game off but I was getting to the rim and the free throw line. And then I hit a three off the bounce that felt good so I kept firing. In the second half EVERY SHOT went in and out for me. Literally every shot. In and out. I got to the line more and more, didn’t miss a free throw. But every jumper went in and out. But I was still effective. And we got up 10 or so points. Next thing I know, they put their best defender on me full court, who was small, strong, physical, and quick. These type of guys always give me trouble. So I struggled getting by him. Got ripped once or twice, called for a push off, and the shots I got off went in and out so it was a rough game for me. And they went on a run and ended up beating us by single digits. But I thought to myself, that’s the second time that happen to me. Happen to me in Indiana too vs the Compton Magic. So I was literally trying to figure out how to beat it in my head. Spoke to Kasey Hill (University of Florida commit) about it and our conversation read the following:
Me: Yo K, I’m having trouble w/ these little guys. The little, stocky, quick, little guys. Teams switch them on me when I’m killing. And they small and they’re fast as fuck. They d up. And I have trouble getting by them and I don’t get close enough to the basket to put up a shot over them. It happened to me in Indy vs Compton Magic and it happen to me this morning vs D Rose. How do I beat this thing?
Kasey Hill: It might be the floor to man because it’s Real slippery and hard to make moves cause I got beat nobody off the bounce here! but another way is have the big come set a high ball screen!
Me: Yeah I did that a couple times, but EVERY shot I put up in the second half went in and out, literally. Every single one. Lol it was rough, every thing went in and out for me K
I’ma just stick with it, they’ll start falling. God just testing me
Kasey Hill: I feel you bro I’m in a slump too!!
Me: Yeah just keep pushing just play, God’ll do the rest
Kasey Hill: Got to!
Me: It’s super pool though we gone’ turn this up ya heard? God got something special coming
Kasey Hill: Yeah you right!!
Me: What time you play? I start championship play @ 8 tonight
Kasey Hill: 245 I think
Me: Oh alright bro hit me after cuz I’m in the telly until tonight ya heard
Kasey Hill: Bet
And I thank him for always being there for me. I looked back at the game and said to myself that was I successful with the ball screens from a big. However, I need to be smart about it. Can’t get them on the sideline because I’ll get trapped, and can’t pass out of the trap to a big because he’s too far away from the basket to be effective. Also I haven’t practice those passes so it was tough for me to make them. But I trusted myself and I trusted my training so I told myself next time I have these small guys guarding me, I’ll do straight ball screens because, those in and outs, will eventually, fall through.
Championship play - win or go home: All night I had felt something coming, well all year you can say. And I walk into the gym and I just have that feeling, so I separate myself from my teammates. Change, stretch, and I had been listening to a specific mixtape but when I tuned my iPod on, for some reason it went to “2pac - Against All Odds” so I just kept it on repeat. And I watch the coaches come into the gym as the refs are late. And I’m laughing and joking with a few of my teammates on the sidelines as I watch UConn, Hostra, Drexel, and of course USC, walk into the gym. And it’s game time. I’m talking to my best friend since elementary school, Shacor, about the game and he tells me “if you don’t score forty vs these dudes, you sleeping in a different room. You probably think forty vs these dudes doesn’t mean anything but that’s what you’re suppose to do. Just to send a message that you don’t wanna go home. Think about it, it’s people here seeing you for the first time. What do you want them to think? Who’s this dude? Who’s this Kahlil Dukes kid?” And with that I went out with a vengeance. I go off for forty-eight, yes 48 points, but unfortunately we lose the game by 5. The other teams parents, players, coaches and fans attending the game come up to me and everything and say all these cool things about how I’m the baddest guard they’ve ever seen, how I’m going to the NBA, wanna know where I’m going to school, and what’s my name. It was cool. But the lost hurt. Who we lost to were from Indiana, and they really embraced me, but the lost hurt. And what hurt more was the fact that UConn left the game when I had 18 points, which was a little before halftime. But I left feeling like I left it all out on the floor and played my heart out. I really trained all year, for that moment, no matter what coaches were there. And USC is the first school to speak on it, all four coaches mention it to me on my way back to the hotel. And then the assistant calls me, talks about committing and more. And to be honest, I had thought of it but wanted to see what would happen. But little did I know, my mind was about to change.
The Verbal: Fresh out of the movie theater inside the hotel, saw the new Dark Knight (batman) movie and loved it. Felt like I could’ve written it. I knew too many parts before they’d happen in the movie, after all, that is what I’m looking into for a college major. I looked at my phone during the movie and saw that USC had called me so I call them back and the assistant talks to me about committing again, and who they have committing the next week, the opportunity I’d have, and everything else. And I really start to think about it, and I get this gut feeling to do it, and to commit. Through it all, my long term goal was to write a story in which tells how a inner city kid from Hartford, Connecticut, Class S, Capital Prep made it to a high major school and would play and have a shot at making it to the league. And I wanted that story to be out. And I was finally gonna be able to have that story written. As hard as I worked, trained, and prayed, I was getting it. I had gotten it. This was my chance to make a decision that could take me one huge step closer to making it. And I couldn’t turn it down or wait to do something I trained so hard for, I was going for it and the opportunity I had in front of me was deserved for me, loyal coaches, and a beautiful place where I’d play at a high level and be around NBA minds, all just felt good to me so I went for it. And so I rush upstairs to talk to my mom. And soon as I knock on her door and she opens, she can tell something is up. I turn the TV off and sit on the bed. She quickly says “OMG what did you do? Did you tweet something? What happen?” and I’m like “nothing Mom” laughing and stuff. And she says “you committed to somebody, what’d you do?” and I said “No.. I want too”. And she says to wait, see the campus, etc. and I’m like “for what? This is a huge opportunity for me” and everything else. And eventually she’s like “well it’s on you”. And then my coach comes to the door, Coach Smith. And he tells me I should wait and stuff. Then he comes back and says “if this is what you wanna do, talk to your high school coach, Coach Levy, and have him call Kevin O’Neill (USC head coach) to make sure you’re their main guy and make sure everything is in place for you to make this decision” and things like that, and so I make it happen. I call Coach Levy, he says he’s in the lobby, I rush downstairs to the lobby, walk through the casino, and at first I can’t see him but then I spot him with Coach Brandon. And I sit down and tell him that I need him to call KO (Kevin O’Neill, USC Head coach) because I wanna do a verbal. And he’s like “are you sure, did you talk to your mom, don’t you wanna visit first, are you sure this is what you wanna do” and I say “yes I’m sure” and he says “ok” and he makes the call. Talks to KO, and then gives me the phone, and KO tells me he’s thrilled and that I’m his main guy 100% and that he’s gonna take me to the next level. And so I tell him that after he speaks to my mom, it’ll be official. I call my mom, my mom says she would call him, she calls him, and then I’m a Trojan. Coach Brandon and Coach Levy congratulate me and stuff. Everything just feels right and I can’t stop biting my bottom lip and smiling. But this what I wanted. To go high major. To play at this level. To have a shot at the NBA and to be able to work on movies and stuff in Cinematic Arts for my degree which will be great because LA is right there and they have my major at USC. I really trust KO, Cantu, Coach Miller, and Coach Tony with my future and four years of my life and I visit September 21st so I’m looking forward to that. But other than that, I did it y’all. And I did it the right way. And I wouldn’t wanna do it any other way, you know. I trained a year long for this moment, where I could commit to a high major school and feel good about myself knowing that I’ll be able to come in and kill as a freshman, major in what I want and am interested in, play at the highest level, play on television, and chase an NBA lottery pick with coaches who will push me toward it just as hard as I’ll push myself. I’m from Capital Prep, in Hartford, Connecticut. And I’m from Class S ya heard? I did what they said I couldn’t do. And I just want everyone to take my story, take it, read it, and realize that anything is possible when you dedication yourself to making it happen and work harder than everybody. Pray, stay positive, stay patient, listen to the right people, have a tight supportive and loyal circle, and stay focused and space is the limit.
I did it.
Back to the gym when I get home..
Condolences: First of all I want to thank God because without him, none of this would’ve been possible, thank you to everyone who has supported me for however long, my uncle Mikey for putting the basketball in my hands and playing the role of my dad, Coach Levy, Coach Smith, Coach JR, Coach Donorae, Coach Antwan, Dr. Steve Perry, Mr. Fulton, Mr. Ali, Mr. Saunders, Coach Millsap, Coach Zo, Coach Duncan, all my teammates since my freshman year from school to AAU, Lil Levy, Sadie Edwards, Bria Holmes, KRIS DUNN, Andre Drummond, Coach Sully, Coach Gaetano, Stephan Holley, CJ Morrison, AJ Hart and everybody else who helped me train in the gym during the school year when I needed someone to help or rebound for me during shooting workouts, all the college coaches who recruited me or showed interest in me, all my twitter followers, all my real friends who have been all I needed and more and accepted my strict, disciplinary, and complicated friendship requests enough to be trustworthy, supporting, and loving the whole way, my whole family for supporting me, praying for me, and believing in me, MY MOM, my city HARTFORD, my best friend since fourth grade Shacor, Tom Yantz, the janitors for putting up with the gym rat that I was this year, Kasey Hill, Coach Brandon Frame, Adam Finklestein, Adam Rubin (Crusader 22 Productions) for everything he’s done, supporting me and believing in me, everybody (friends and family) who gave me rides to-and-from the gym so I could train, everybody who believed in me, everybody at school because they helped me become who I am today throughout high school, Mrs. Norige, and everybody that’s helped me get here.
They always told me somebody is working harder than me.
I just wanted to prove to myself that, they were wrong.
July 19, 2012
I’m currently somewhere familiar; the dark. However, I’m in Philadelphia for this hoop group summer classic thing they have going on that I’m apart of. And it’s been very, tough. Tough for me. Tough for my team. We lost two close games to teams we should have blown out. And I’ll take the blame, because I played terrible one game, and great the other game but didn’t seal the game for us. And it hurts you know. As hard as I’ve trained. It’s like I’m missing a step. They tell me to stop moping, stop worrying, stop being so down on yourself, and keep your head up. They don’t necessarily realize what I put myself through to be as good as I am, or people say I am you know. So when I play bad or play bad enough to cost my teammates the game, I’m an angry soul. A lost soul. A soul trapped in a room by it’s self with only the images of those games replaying in his head. Yeah there’s other games, yeah there’s times where stuff like this happens, and yeah I’m not gonna be great all the time, but I don’t wanna hear that. I trained to be great all the time. Nobody worked harder than me. I’ve been saying it since that day at Mohegan when I watched four teams get crowned, and none of those teams were mine. Since then I’ve been saying “none of them worked harder than me”, I deserved that. I deserved to play well out here in Philly, you know. But I still have one more tournament out here. One more. I know God’s working so I’ve refused to ask “WHY?”. I know he has something special planned. I just can’t stand not being mentioned with these guys. These big names. I’m nobody. Who am I? You know, I play well and it’s like “ok we like him” but I play bad and it’s quickly “he’s low major”. And I know how to get out of it, its just something that’s stopping me. Either God or me. Unless God is controlling me and is working, and needs me to be patient, which I have been. It just hurts. You know, you train so hard for something and you expect things to be given to you. That’s a lie. That’s not how this thing works. I know nobody trained harder than me, but out here these dudes not giving me anything, on the court, off the court, anything. They play me so hard, and off the court these scouts and media diss me so hard. I remember when my school principle, Dr. Steve Perry, told me not to read about myself because people and media will say some crazy things that I may not wanna hear or see. And I thought to myself, I must see it. Because when they write about this guy, or that guy, or tweet about these guys and those guys, they say nothing but GREAT things. Even a bad game is made look like they destroyed everybody there. And that hurts me. I’m just trying to get in the same headline and sentence as him. I played better than him. I worked harder than him TO PLAY better than him. How could you do me like that? I deserve that recognition. But I have this habit of playing bad when the right people are there and scoring forty and nobody with power is really, there. And I look at it like God just working, but when there’s so little time left in a live period, you would think he’d be a little more talkative to me. Because as I said I’m here in the dark alone. Nobody is telling me everything is gonna be okay you know. Nobody is explaining to me that there’s politics involved and that some things just aren’t as important as I’m making them seem. Nobody is here with me. But God. And he’s silent because he has something big coming for me and wants to see if that three letter word (why) will come out of my mouth. But I won’t let it. I won’t say it. Because I know why. I know why he’s doing this and I know what he’s doing. As much as it hurts, I know. I mean he was nailed to a cross. He could’ve, you know. But he didn’t. He took that pain knowing that something special would happen after. And he does that with all of us. We just never see it. We put him through something he didn’t deserve. And he made a world out of it. Now his sprit and his word lives on. His greatness lives. And we worship him and thank him, hopefully. But he does that same thing with us. I really don’t deserve this. It got so bad one game that I went to the bench, almost beginning to cry, I could feel my voice crackling, and I wipe my face with my jersey and I say “why is this happening to me”, in Indiana. That’s how much it hurt. It really really hurt me. And now that I look at it, those were his nails into my body. The bad games when I wanted to play great the most. And I know that he’s always on time. Never too late, never too early. And with that, I know something big is coming. I just hope I make it there without crying. I left this piece untitled because I didn’t know what to call it. It’s me expressing how it feels to taste failure at something I worked so hard to succeed in but, with trust in my training and trust in God, I overcame it.
And I say “overcame” instead of “will overcome”, because I know I’m gonna do it. I just want you all to know that, God works under his plans, not ours. Most of the time, his plan is ours. Just not always when we want them to happen. He has his own agenda, and when we figure out that his agenda is the best agenda and our agenda is just a tentative schedule, we’ll be much better. And now that I’ve figured that out, I can just go out there and play, knowing that God’s agenda will bring me everything I deserve, in the end.
July Is For Kris: My Autobiography of June
After everything I’ve been through all year from training, to school, to games, to procrastination through what should’ve been sleep hours but I was too excited about my future to go to bed, to patience, to now, I hadn’t slept as much as I may have wanted too, or should have. My school let out on May 31st and I wouldn’t be having another tournament until live period in July so I told myself that I’d spend the month of June just relaxing more, sleeping more, but working just as hard as I have all year. This got difficult for me because after April’s live period, I got use to a lot of attention. But now, during this month, I was forcing myself to spend time alone like I did last fall. This meant more days and nights alone, procrastinating, thinking, seeing the future, beats blasting, with my body at peace. However, I hadn’t been in this world since the fall, and life had changed after the USC offer so it took me a while to grow back accustomed to this part of the ritual and work ethic. After all, I’ve been here before. I really appreciated everyone’s feedback on the writing of my work ethic. I was surprised at how many people it helped, let alone inspired. It surprised me because it’s only the story of this year, not my full story. But I mean, I did do something special this year, many more things to come. But I really saw the love I was getting, grow and grow. Didn’t receive a lot of hate, which I also loved, but it made it difficult to stay humble. The only things keeping me humble was me forcibly and people who said I needed to do this and needed to do that, and didn’t know anything about me or what I had. But my object was to stay grounded and keep working. This month wasn’t working out everyday, I was working out when I had the chance too, from the gym to the track, and if I couldn’t get to either one of those, I was watching film from April. I found watching film important because I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made during the April live period, in July’s live period. I figured if I fixed them, I’d look that much better. This was also a part of my work ethic; no gym and no track meant a rested body and film. So no days off was still an expectation that I continuously had for myself. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to get content. I didn’t want to be satisfied. I didn’t want to do anything but experience the feeling that that USC offer gave me, more.
And I think this month, I put in the training and got the rest that I needed, to do that. Prayer hasn’t changed. Every night I pray. And if I forget to pray one night, I pray twice the next night. I kept God’s faith through all, because I remember where I came from and how I got here. And I trusted him more and more so I hadn’t stressed anything all year or this month. I just was certain of my future. And that’s something special, a special belief that God gave me and that training gave me. The NCAA rules stated that on June 15th, D1 schools can contact players they’re recruiting unlimitedly. So I was looking forward to that day. Not sure if my followers noticed but I tweet a lot more, the more I’m alone. Especially after workouts so I was tweeting once or twice everyday. A lot of retweeting as well due to the love, which I don’t mind. What bugs me is when people ask me to follow them back. I only follow people who will keep me level headed. For example, I follow Aquille Carr, Kasey Hill, and Brandon Jennings. Why? Because they all have something, I train hard for and want. Aquille has been retweeting a lot this month so anyone who follows him has had a full Twitter log due to him. Me, however, I loved it. Not because it was all about him, but because it was love he received from people around the country who respected him, admired him, and looked up to him. “I want that love”, I thought. And I know one say I’ll get it, but that’s why I follow him, he has what I don’t have. I have love, but not love where I can retweet hundreds of tweets of people mentioning me and how much they admired me. One day though. But I love it, he keeps me level headed. I don’t know him personally but I know he works hard for everything he has gotten and I respect him and I admire him just as much as ANYONE. Aquille actually may be my biggest admiration in my class because he’s smaller than me and can do everything I haven’t proved I can do, yet. He doesn’t know me or anything but I know God will introduce me to him one day whether on the court or off the court.
Kasey Hill, who I’m actually close with, is another person I follow on twitter because he’s the most humble person I know. His first tweet everyday is “Thank you GOD” and he never tweets about the game, or anything basketball success related. He just shows his followers the off the court side of him. And I love that because it shows me that I can be myself when the lights are off. Whenever I need him, he’s there for me. Whether its advice or just to see wassup, I can count on him, and I love him for that. Brandon Jennings, who we know plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, who I also follow, is the opposite. He trains very hard, however he expresses his confidence and speaks what’s on his mind. He’ll tweet something like “I’m going to get buckets in NYC and Baltimore this summer, just give me a jersey” and then next thing I know he’ll be on YouTube on Hoopmixtape or something just killing in NYC or Baltimore. And I admired that. And he also his himself. These are just 3 of nearly 30 people I follow. So when people ask me to follow them back and I don’t reply or don’t follow back, just know that it’s not nothing personal, I just want to keep my head leveled and I just don’t think random everyday activity tweets can help me do that. However, there will be a day where I decide to follow back people whenever they ask. I just haven’t decided when yet. Probably this fall, when I’m past this recruitment stuff and can just focus on winning this state title my senior year at school and enjoying myself. I mean, I love people. And I want everybody to love me, so I know eventually I’ll have to do that. I just thank everyone for their support. I’ve been helping and giving back as much as possible. Whenever people ask me for advice or an opinion on something, I give them the best of me and I’m as honest as possible. I know who Kris Dunn was to me, and I was blessed to have him. God gave me other blessings as well, like helping people and being there for them, always knowing what to say, when to say it, and things like that so I just try to do what I think he wants me to do. And that’s helping other people accomplish things. I’ve always done that, but I did a lot more of it this month of June because I had more time too. If I can be who Kris was too me to other people, you bet I will every single time, whenever they need me. I mean I know some people want to be closer to me than I may want, but that all comes with the territory. I can’t please everybody but I can come close, I strive to. If I have friends that seem to become selfish or annoying then I stop speaking to them. Not because I don’t love them but because ever since April, it’s been difficult for me to trust people. So I’m more sensitive with who’s in my life and why. The slightest bit of selfishness or misunderstanding of me could get you kicked out of my personal life. I’m too nice to kick someone out of my life forever, but my personal life, I’m not so soft on. And this month, that happened a lot too. It’s just been a long journey, of limited sleep, and I just want to sleep as good as possible knowing people love me, support me, appreciate me, admire me, trust me, and that I can trust myself. It makes my life easier, and it’s also apart of my work ethic because it helps me remain focus. Every decision I make, every choice, everything I do and the way I act, correlates back to my work ethic. I’m resting and sleeping so my body can perform 110% in July. I spend time alone so that my mind remains on the future. I listen to my beats to break silence and irrelevant noises that don’t pertain to me. I tweet only the thought of my work ethic, to share with others who follow me. I stay in the house to stay away from distractions and the worlds “wrong place at the wrong time” incidents because if I’m home, I’m never in the wrong place. This also keeps me away from the wrong people, parties, drinking, bad influences, everything else. I do nothing I shouldn’t do. All my female friends are friends who I’ve known for years, that I can trust, that knows my story, that believes in me, that loves me, and that supports me to the max and would never do ANYTHING to stop my future that I procrastinate so hard about, from happening. If they act up on me then I must ignore them. With that being said, there’s only a hand count of them. And that’s how I like it.
Every male friend in my life, all my boys, don’t put me on a pedestal. They let me be myself, and they believe in me, support me, and are there whenever I need them. And so this month of June, the word “friends” played a huge role due to how much time I spent alone. The key for me was to make smart decisions, and no matter what remain focused. And with God and my ritual, I was able to do that all month.
After I dropped the piece: “Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic”, I think many people respected me more and understand how I got everything I have. It told everything and explained why I do the things I do and act the way I act. What bothered me was, some of my friends couldn’t understand it and if they can’t understand that, then they can’t understand me. And I understand me very well, it’s just God I don’t understand sometimes. I always thank him for challenging me, giving me obstacles, and making me better everyday but that doesn’t mean I appreciate figuring them out. I love him for it though. Without them, I’d probably be cocky and over confident. With them, I’m able to remain humble and feel like I haven’t done anything yet. And I have, but I haven’t. The goal is to make it to the league, the USC offer and everything else that put a smile on my face this year was just me moving one step closer. The ritual has it’s moments though. Where I feel alone. And technically I am, although few people are willing to help me for no cost. This month made me more appreciative, more quite, more grateful, but I grew less happy. I knew the best was yet to come. I’ve been here before, in the dark, alone. I knew what was next, July. And I knew what was coming, I know what is coming my way. I just hope it’s better than last time, because I don’t want to have to compare these moments of triumph. They’re the best moments of my life thus far. All the training, time spent alone, sacrificing, dedication, hard work, day after day in the gym for a year straight (4 off days), praying every night, and several mental challenges of the little but big things, all was worth it.
ALTHOUGH GOD’S GREATEST CHALLENGE TO ME WAS KEEPING ME OUT OF THE GYM, I FOUND THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN HIM AND I MORE INTERESTING THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
Yes I know I’m gonna kill Vegas
I trained for it all year
I have no other choice, or option
I trust my training so I’m confident that I’ll kill it
And God loves me
So I should have no worries, right?
I felt that my insecurity was immature of me, and that his challenge was to see how I would react to not working out every single day or consistently.
I worked around his challenge; watching more film, sleeping more, spending time with people who care about me and support me, resting my body, and just going pushing relentlessly whenever I can’t upon a workout of any sort.
Yes days without workouts killed me inside. However, the film study kept me into the game and improving so a day off was never had.
Also I never lost focus
My past, July, recruitment, my senior year, and my story had been on my mind and never left. So I was still mentally preparing and envisioning the images of my future from Vegas and beyond, every night and all day.
God really does love me
And this month I just feel like I’m at a stage in my life where, I know how he works
And he’s measuring my success by not only how I handle being comfortable, but how I handle controversy. And I killed it.
So I know, him and I are going to kill July. Together.
I knew that, but his challenge, I wasn’t so sure about.
And it continued to eat me, alive.
INTRODUCTION: The Conversation
ME: Yo, has God ever kept you out of the gym for a reason you couldn’t grasp? He’s done it to me randomly this month, and it’s worrying me
Yet, I’ve trained too hard and I trust him and my training too much to feel like I can’t sleep all June and go kill these dudes in July
It’s just always this little voice inside of me that’s worried that whatever God is doing, isn’t right because I’ve been in the gym the entire year
Is he resting me?
Is he testing me?
Has he ever done this to you?
What is he doing bro?
I’m scared, and I know I shouldn’t worry up to now, but I’m young
KRIS DUNN: Dawg living in the gym is a good thing but ur still a kid and u gotta have some fun time, u dont wanna over work yah self nah mean
ME: F**k fun time, this is my life right here
Maybe that is his test, to see if I’ll enjoy life away from the gym
But I can’t because I feel guilty every time
All I can think of is someone working harder than me or myself coming up short
That’s what drives me
Not having fun, my gym time is me having fun!
I grew accustomed to that
Now that he’s taking me away from it to see how I’ll react, I’m just depressed and worried
I don’t wanna be forced into anything unrelated to making it
I’m not like you bro I don’t have siblings or a dad
My work ethic is IT
Why is he taking that away from me one month away from my last dance?
I killed April, and I’ma EAT July up like its Popeyes!
But I don’t wanna be limited ya know, it hurts
KRIS DUNN: I feel you dawg, u got usc and shit, just keep working dawg, ur a real
good player and u knows that
ME: I’m not good yet, this is all potential that I worked myself into and showed that if I put the work in, I can be a draft pick in a couple years. I ain’t shit yet. I didn’t do anything that you didn’t do or Dre didn’t do or other dudes haven’t done. USC is huge for me, but it’s just one step closer to where I wanna be. And I can’t work if God keeping me away from where I worked the most to get USC.. And it just hurts.
It’s like I know everything is gonna be okay.. And all the certainty in the world is telling me “God got you”
You taught me to never settle bro, and I haven’t
But being at home alone and not being able to workout makes me feel like I’m settling, and it’s eating me alive.
I just want him to give me back the life I had before June
Yes July he’s gonna give me everything I deserve, and patience has played a huge factor all year
But right now, there’s something else that’s just killing me inside
And my laugh and my smile and my natural personality gives off this impression that I’m okay
And when I get alone, as I am 90% of the time..
How I really feel comes out of me and I become concerned bro
And no one is here
And no one is telling me everything is gonna be okay, but me
KRIS DUNN: Why cant u workout
ME: I don’t even know, that’s how I know God is doing it to me!!!!!!
I don’t have a ride to my school to workout everyday like I did before June
And I DONT KNOW WHY
I’m not going to the park to workout outside when I can’t get a gym inside
AND I DON’T KNOW WHY
IT’S like I’m not in control
And it f****** hurts, I’m about to cry just from texting it all out to you!!
KRIS DUNN: U good, just txt um someone with a car bro
ME: He won’t let me..
Everyone I call don’t pick up
Everyone I text, don’t text me back
I’m gonna just run there started tomorrow
I have to make something out of nothing, as I always have
I can’t stop now, no matter what GOD throws at me
If everything is gonna be okay, then it is
And I refuse to leave any room for doubt in my head
KRIS DUNN: Gotta do what u gotta do
ME: I mean, it’s gotten me this far and what God is putting me through, is steep. And I been here before. I know that it’ll all be worth it when this feeling is gone. But if I have the power to get this pain out of me sooner, then I will
KRIS DUNN: U good bro trust
ME: Thank you bro, for everything
Now I know a lot of you read that conversation and said “that’s deep”. But that’s the relationship I have with Kris. I told ya’ll about it in the “Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic” piece that I previously wrote. He’s been that person to me. And he always knows what to say. I knew God was testing me, however, I know how he works. And I knew that everything would be okay. But there was a small part of me (which I never showed) that always had a doubt. I called it “immaturity”. I needed someone to tell else to tell me “everything was gonna be alright”. College coaches who had offered me or were recruiting me would tell me “what’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna blow up in July and other big schools are gonna offer you”. And I’d say in my head “that’s what I trained for”. Then again, was that God telling me that thru the coaches? Was that message delivered from him? And my sense told me, “yes”. So why stop here? I know what the future holds, but why leave any room for doubt? It hurt too much, anyhow. And so the next morning, 745AM, I wake up to the alarm of “Headlines” by Drake that reads “Too in love, to cheat myself.. Leave no room for doubt”, and I got out of my bed with a vengeance. I kiss both of my basketballs, as I always do, I mean, I do love this game. But just part of the ritual, show love. I brush my teeth and everything, head downstairs, eat some cereal, grab my bag pack, grab my ball, I POINT AT THE ESPNHS MAGAZINE COVER OF KRIS DUNN IN THE BOOK/MOVIE SHELF IN NY LIVING ROOM and run from my house, through downtown, to my school. I ran because I chose too. I wasn’t gonna let anything stop me from working out this time. If this is how God wanted me to out the work in, then this is what it was going to be. As Kris told me, “gotta do what you gotta do”.
NOTE: Coach Antwan (who was gonna be working me out this morning with several things plan to me away from basketball skill to bring my body to an elite level), had offered to give me a ride there and back the night before, and he usually does, but this time I told him I was running there and running back. And that’s what I did. I put on the “For The Kill” instrumental on my iPod, put it into my bag, and run to the school. Another reason I was running was because during the April live period, I would have so many games where I would kill in the first half, with 15+ points. Sometimes even 20+ points. And the defense would make adjustments to slow me down in the second half. Whether it was to bring in fresh legs off the bench, trap me, pick me up full court, make me give the ball up every time, or whatever else, they did. And it worked because I was tired. I pushed myself through fatigue but I’d end up with 10 points or so in the half and we’d lose because my second half play didn’t lift my teammates like my first half play did and my team usually plays off of me. So, it was important to me to come back in July a different animal. I wasn’t gonna kill in the first half, or the second half, I was gonna kill the entire game. And I had that in the back of my head as I ran through those downtown Hartford streets. People would look at me through their windshields in their cars and other citizens would look at me and look away. I hadn’t known what they were thinking, I’m just a kid running through the streets with a basketball in my hands and a bag pack on. They probably thought I stole something. But I told myself while I was running that one day they won’t look at me and be so quick to look away. They’ll know exactly who I am because I put my city on the map.
THE SECRETS OF WAR
(my work ethic on this day. I know a lot of people wonder what I do when I workout, well, this is what I did on THIS day):
Once I got to the school, I did the following with Coach Antwan:
· Use the ‘Pro Agility Pole Set’ and we did a total of 6 repetitions
· The first two reps were done at half speed with the basketball in hand.
· The final 4 Reps were at game speed and the athlete had to finish at the end of the drill with a lay-up or a shot in front of a ‘Prop’
· Box Jumps on the ‘High Box’ for 8 reps and 3 sets
· Squats for 3 sets reps were 8, 10, and 12
· Standing Alternating Leg press for 3 sets and the reps were 8, 10, and 10
· Pull-Ups for 8, 10, and 10
(After the second set of pull ups, Coach Antwan looks at me and says “you’re working today man, I’m proud of you, it’s gonna show man. I can’t guarantee you when, but I can guarantee you the results will show”. And he leaves to work on someone else in the gym, I’m in the weight room if you didn’t know, and before starting my third and final set I pause for a second. Is this God speaking to me? Is he telling me they will? And then I’m just hoping its July.. However those words meant a lot to me. I tell myself “alright boy let’s set, let’s work” and get right back at it.)
· Chest Fly’s with 25lbs dumbbell Reps – 10, 10, and 10 3 sets
· Bent over Hamstring Extensions 8, 10, 10
· Walking Push-Up’s while feet are being held by partner. 4 total trips to half court and jog it out.
I shoot around a little bit, just so that even though my arms can barely raise, I’m keeping my muscle memory on track with training. Don’t wanna be one of those people who just get so much stronger that their jumpshot changes.
Once I feel my arms loosening up and I start hitting a couple “in game” situation shots.. I feel good about it and I change my sneaks, shake Coach Antwan hand, tell him” send me what I did today”, tell him “Thank you” and then I leave the school.
Seconds after.. I’m running back home.
Again, coming back in July a different animal was important to me. They weren’t gonna stop me in the second half this time. I told myself that. Constantly. This time I have “2-12-12 Thoughts” by Ace Hood playing on my iPod in my bag. I love this song because the chorus says “Nothing’s gonna stop me”. And I had this on repeat as I ran through the streets for the second time this morning, telling myself “2nd half, they aren’t gonna stop me this time, let’s work”. And I’m pushing. Chest burning, aching. But pain is temporary. “Don’t stop running no matter what”, I told myself as I felt myself slowing down due to my chest pains. I knew I was just getting stronger but it hurt and so I listened to my body until it went away and slowed down. But I refused to stop running. I had flashbacks of games in the April where I was face guarded full court in the second half and couldn’t get open because I was too tired to make hard cuts or outrun who was in front of me. And so I kept running. And once I seen my house, I sprinted the last two blocks there. I did this because when doing the “Insane Asylum” workout with one of my most faithful and loyal supporters Coach Donorae, I ran the mile in 5:43, did 94ft sprints with 10 second breaks in between each one for 5 minutes, did 94ft suicides with 15 second breaks in between each one for 5 minutes, did box runs (360 around the cone for 5 minutes with a 10 second rest in between, etc), and then my last box drill was to sprint, slide, back pedal, slide. And after all of that, I was to run one last lap around the track in 1:00 or less. I’d be doing this workout for almost two and a half years. However, since I had just ran the 5:43 mile and been a different animal when it came to working out all year, I felt like I could make it. He yells “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and I sprint the whole way around the track. I hadn’t slowed down the entire time, and I feel like I made it. Suddenly, I wheeze. And then I wheeze again. Just 20 feet away from the finish line. And then I cross. I go right to my knees and look up at him, and he’s smiling. I say “did I make it?” and he says “1:01.69”. When I tell you I was angry, I WAS ANGRY. He could’ve stopped it a second early right? Like, damn. But, that’s why I love him and that’s why I allow him to train me at times because he’s gonna push me to the top and he’d never use me, for anything. And I thank him, because this would also get me ready for July, because I was for damn sure thinking about those second halves in April, and I wouldn’t be stopped this time in July. Yet, I missed it by a second.
So, whenever I was a block or two away from my house, I sprinted it, saying to myself “you aren’t gonna miss the final lap by a second no more” and I pushed and sprinted through the wheezing, as I hadn’t before. And then, I’m enter my home, and crash right onto the living room carpet. Head first. I grab my basketball and lay with it in my arms, reflect on what God had been putting me through. Tweet a few things. And “2-12-12 Thoughts” by Ace Hood is still playing on rerun so it goes through 3 or 4 times before I decide to get up. I’m dropping sweat everywhere, but by the time I get up, I’m pretty much dry besides my soaked shirt and compressions.
My tweets that day (June 19, 2012) read:
@kahlildukes: The results I deserve, are promised. Exactly when they will show, unfortunately, is not. In converse to that, God always has perfect timing
@kahlildukes: They want me to commit to them, yet THEY’RE ALL TELLING ME: “you’re gonna blow up in July and get more high majors”. God speaks so clearly..
@kahlildukes: All the credit goes to @ShowTime_Dunn for always being there when I need him the most. I went and got it this morning bro, hope you’re proud
Those last two were tweeted as I laid on the carpet, the first one was tweeted before I left my school. I was thinking about that tweet first because of what Coach Antwan told me after I was doing my second set of pull ups. And so I had that tweet on my mind before I finished m workout. And it carried me the rest of the way.
Coach Donorae read the tweet about Kris and had the following to say:
COACH DONORAE: You’re better than Kris…believe that
Even he doesn’t work as hard as you
ME: Wouldn’t be here without him
COACH DONORAE: Why not…you was working before he came in the picture
ME: Not like this
COACH DONORAE: Don’t discredit your hard work!!
He definitely is living proof that hard work pays off
But he ain’t wit you shooting in the gym!!
He not waking you up to workout wit the trainer
ME: I point at his magazine cover everyday before I leave the house to go train
COACH DONORAE: Motivation
But you are responsible for the work u put in!!
Not me, not Big Dukes…not no one but you!!
I’ve never met another kid wit as much ambition as you
As much desire
A harder work ethic…not a day in my life
I only read about pro’s that work as hard
So although u may give credit to those who paved the way, are motivated you…do no discredit yourself!
I tell ppl that all the time…you are responsible for where u are right now
Never seen a kid want it more
Never seen a kid work as hard
ME: The story will speak for itself, and I’ll be what Kris was to me, to someone else
I finally crack a meaningful smile.. God knew why.
And if you reading this know why, then Thank You for understanding why what everything he had said to me made me smile.
GOD’S REASONING: Conclusion
In conclusion to this piece, as I look at all that I’ve been through, it was never a life crisis or normal negative event. When I say “life crisis or normal negative event”, I mean getting in trouble in school, suspensions, getting arrested, being locked up, being accused of raping somebody, getting in a fight, or anything like that, those things never happen to me and God knew they never would because I had learned to keep myself out of this situations at a young age. I knew when to be quiet, I knew when to be alone. And I did both, all year. When bad things happen to good people they usually say “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time”, well, that day would never come for me because I’m always in the gym or at home. And that’s how I’ll be in college as well. And God knew that, so I think he put me through certain things like; not working out, not getting a bunch of love, not being ranked top 100 or 150, not getting more than one high major offer after April, not new interest from new schools after the unlimited rule was put into place, not giving me answers to my questions through this misery, and not helping me this time. He did these things to put me through something negative. He did these things to keep me humbled. He did these things because I didn’t have a father to do them of teach me things. He did these things because I needed these things. He did these things to remind me that I always had to work for everything I would get, and that April was just the beginning. He did these things to test me. And on this day, June 19th, I finally passed the test. When God is putting you through things you feel as though you don’t deserve or don’t make sense, there’s always a reason behind it. I said “never mind” to the better days, because those are gonna come just because God loves me and I work hard. And I embraced the challenge because for the first time since the fall, I worked so hard that I came home and just shut down my body and went straight to the floor. And right then and there, I knew that God was just testing me and I had nothing to worry about. God was my dad. And I was his son. And so I knew he’d be with me in July because he was with me all year, from last August which is almost a year ago, through 10 months of training and self-preparation, to now, and I knew that July belonged to me.
I remember everything that happen last July, what Kris showed me, and my eyes caught everything. Those images of him and everything that happen throughout the rest of that month, lied as an image in my head.
July is ours.
July is mine.
July is for Kris.
THANK YOU COACH DONORAE, THANK YOU COACH SMITTY, THANK YOU COACH ANTWAN, THANK YOU COACH LEVY, THANK YOU MIKEY, THANK YOU MOM, THANK YOU FAMILY, THANK YOU COACH JR FOR EVERYTHING, THANK YOU ADAM (CRUSADER 22) FOR SUPPORTING ME AND BELIEVING IN ME, THANK YOU DRE, I KNOW YOU GONNA KILL IT IN THE LEAGUE, AND LAST BUT NO LEAST ..THANK YOU KRIS!
Thank YOU for reading this and everybody else who supports me, looks up to me, idolizes me, and believes in me.
I leave you with this last piece before I leave for Indiana, Philly, and Vegas the second week of July.
I promise that you will be proud of me when I return home.
(Written on June 19, 2012)
P.S. - Oh and I did another workout later, had to get more shots up, that shoot around after my morning workout with Coach Antwan just wasn’t enough for me. Coach Donorae was helping me. He said I ended up shooting 700+ and made at least 500 or so before the janitors kicked us out the gym.
We were aiming for 1,000 makes..
Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic
Coming to grips with my past, it was hard. I don’t feel like it should have been easier. If it was easy everyone would do it but, it got life threatening. Now a days, I’m constantly tired and exhausted, physically and emotionally. However, how I’ve gotten here is a mystery to many. They look at me, they say the following: Kahlil Dukes, about six feet, one hundred and sixty pounds, from Hartford, goes to Capital Prep, he’s good but he’s in Class S so he plays nobody, he plays tech schools, he only averaged thirty his freshman year because of that reason, he only lead the state in scoring that year because of that reason, he only led the state in assists his sophomore year because of that reason, he’s only getting hype because he dominates that class and no one else quite does like him, yet he hasn’t won a state title, he’s not gonna make it to a high major school out of Class S because he won’t be prepared for the competition, level of talent, and height due to several years of playing against Class S competition, he’s too small, he’s a scoring point guard, an undersize two-guard, he takes too many bad shots, he has to become able to be more efficient with his shot selection and shot making, he has to be able to lead a team, he isn’t as good as this guy or that guy, this guy is just as good as him, this guy is better than him because he plays against Class L and Class LL competition, he isn’t that good, and if he ever does become good he’ll have to go to a prep school so that he can be prepared for the college level. Capital Prep is not gonna get it done for this kid. I heard these things. I was told these things. People told my coaches these things. They were all about me. They all targeted me. I thought back on my freshman and sophomore years going into my junior year. My freshman year was so successful because I worked my ass off the summer before. Shot thousands and thousands of shots outside, so once I get in the gym, the results showed and people hyped me up. My freshman year summer turned out unsuccessful because of lack of confidence on the basketball court, a lower back injury which killed my spirits, and other distractions off the court. So that summer I didn’t work on my game. And it showed my sophomore year. I couldn’t make a shot. I couldn’t do anything but pass. My confidence kept getting lower and lower. I began to not have fun playing because this is the same competition I averaged thirty against last year. They are playing my harder, and tougher because of last year but why can’t I destroy these guys? Why am I playing like this? Well, the hype got to me and so did not working out. I never asked for it, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But the attention I received would make me or break me. I know others had been in my position before, but I wanted to be the one that did something nobody could do or has done. I wanted to separate myself. Even though I lead the state in assists that year, I wanted to have a breakout summer to bounce back from last summer. I was playing for the Connecticut Basketball Club, who I’ve played for since I was eight years old. I was playing well. Early. And I didn’t show any signs of letting up. I found myself on the 17 and under team with Andre Drummond and Kris Dunn by July, which is the most important month of the year for any high school basketball athlete that plays AAU. It’s when the NCAA allows all the D1 college coaches to watch the best high school basketball talent in the country compete and deliver a basketball scholarship to the players that they are interested in the most. For me, I had not had any D1 offers. I had interest from low major schools, and a few mid major schools, but I wanted to do what they told me I couldn’t do, and that’s show that I can play with high major players out of Class S, and out of Capital Prep, at this height, with my game. I can do it. But now, it was time to get a first taste of who I’d have to prove this stuff against. We traveled to Indiana, Massachusetts, Las Vegas, and Florida that July. As nervous as ever, I waited my turn. Again, this wasn’t my team, but I had to fit in somehow if I wanted to go home with the confidence I needed to excel. For those who don’t know, at this time Andre Drummond was ranked the number one player in the country by ESPNU and Rivals, and this is a guy I knew, who use to go to Capital Prep. He ended up leaving and going to a prep school my eighth grade year, in which if he stayed, my freshman year would have been a lot different. But it worked out for me, and it definitely worked out for him. So every college coach in the country is watching him. But hey, no biggie. Also, Kris Dunn who went to New London High School at the time was coming off of a state title in Class L and a breakout performance in Arkansas earlier that spring which landed him as many said; the best point guard in the country. During this month, I was able to learn a lot from them, and I knew that everybody was watching so in order for me to get anywhere they were, I had to compete like them but play within them and of course, play my game. We’re in Indiana, and we are in a super pool. A super pool is basically all the top teams of the tournament stacked in one sort of bracket of their own so that all the coaches and fans can see all the top teams of the tournament battle it out just in case they won’t see each other as the tournament wines down into the final championship game. So we were playing against Indiana Elite, Dream Vision, and the Atlanta Celtics. The first two games, I didn’t play more than probably five minutes combined because I was learning the system and getting the hang of everything. However I watched Kris destroy the competition, scoring twenty five points, thirty points, whatever it was, he killed. I’m watching him, and it’s as if he wanted to make a statement. He quickly solidified himself as one of the best players in the country that tournament. I was in the same position he was the year before, so I payed close attention. I was able to see what it looked like to blow up and kill the noise of “Connecticut players aren’t good or aren’t as good”. I watched him give every ounce he had in every play. And I quickly became an admiration of him, and I idolized him on the spot. Not only did be inspire me, but he gave me confidence that if he can do it, I can do it. Now I hadn’t worked as hard as him prior to this month of July, but I felt like I could play as hard. So our next game, I got my chance to play more. Nervous at first, but I hit my first shot, which I hadn’t done all tournament in the previous two games so my confidence quickly rose. I ended the game with eighteen points. This was against Dream Vision, who had Shabazz Muhammad (the second ranked player in the country, soon to be first over Andre Drummond) who finished the game with thirty six points, from what I recall. We lost all three games, however, my confidence was rocking, and I score twenty eight my next game against MBA Select. I met Paul Biancardi after the game, who is an ESPN analyst and he tells me he loves me and likes my game, and that if he was still coaching in college, he’d offer me a scholarship. There were sixty plus coaches in that gym every day, so after he said that, I knew I was in good shape. I was quickly relieved. Andre Drummond told me if I played like that every game, I’d blow up. And Kris Dunn was Kris Dunn, and told me to keep it up. We leave Indianapolis, and head to Massachusetts. I played well there, very well, had a couple twenty plus point games. And we win that tournament. Then we head to Las Vegas. I hadn’t ever been to Vegas before so I was overwhelmed by everything from the hot air to the movie scene it gave off. However, I knew what I was there for; a scholarship. Kris called it “a business trip”. I absolutely play my ass off in Vegas, and I’m quickly being talked about. I didn’t think I played great, but others did, and I was beginning to accept that that’s all that matters. Even though I’m my biggest critic, the point of this period is get exposure and get a scholarship, and so far I was able to do everything but, get a scholarship. We head to Florida, for nationals. And I kill. I kill nationals. From start to finish. Talks with my coaches tell me that I would leave this period with a scholarship but I hasn’t known for sure. We head to the airport to go back home, and in the airport I refresh my email on my iPhone. An email pops up with a subject that reads “Scholarship offer”, I quickly click it in excitement. And it’s from the University of Vermont, basically saying that they enjoyed watching me play in Vegas and Florida and would like to offer me a full scholarship to the University of Vermont. I quickly smile, and forward it to my mom who’s sitting a few feet away. I say “Mom, check your email”. And she reads it and smiles at me. I never forgot that moment, making my mom smile, it meant a lot more than I’ve ever expressed. I tell the team, and they are happy for me. But Kris, Kris tells me something different than any of them. Kris looks at me and says “don’t let that stop your hunger”. And I quickly shut down, and realize that I can get more, this is just the first one. If I could ever explain to him how much that one sentence has carried me to where I am now, but what I am about to tell you below this introduction is the work ethic of a sixteen year old kid who, as my high school coach says, “DESTROYED the odds, and not just beat them”. The ritual was simple but, hard to follow. I didn’t know how far I’d go with it or how far it’d take me, but I fell in love with it quickly to the point where nothing or no one else mattered that distracted me or didn’t relate to it. This work ethic changed me, my life, my attitude, my personality, and my image. It made me who I am today. Always, I tell Kris Dunn how thankful I am of him, his influence, and his huge help in my life. Andre Drummond gets my thanks as well for giving me his advice and having the confidence he had in me. His story is very similar to mines, coming from Capital Prep and Class S, however very different. He ended up going to UConn and then the NBA. Kris Dunn ended up singing a letter of intent to Providence College where he’d play college basketball in the Big East. They both helped me get here, and here I am. From the top a low major school’s list, to the top of a high major school’s list. This work ethic will define me, and how I worked my way to a stellar performance in Vegas my junior year that earned me my first high major scholarship offer to the University of Southern California. This is my self evaluation, this is my work ethic, described for the many of you who wonder how a Class S player dismantled the odds or the many of you who just want to get where I’ve gotten. This is for you.
What you’re about to read is a series of events that I followed over and over, and over again. When I got back from Florida at midnight of August 2nd, I quickly went to bed. Because the next morning, I would began a work ethic that would change my life forever.
The Work Ethic:
Sleep, go to the gym and workout, head home to shower, wash clothes, lay in bed with my headphones on blasting, lock my door, think of everything and everyone I remembered the previous year, and think of my future until I fade to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.
This was the ritual. This was it, nothing came between, before, or after. As I said in the introduction, it was simple but hard to follow.
Hard to follow because I did this from August 2nd to November 25th. I only took the 25th off for four reasons. One, because it was Thanksgiving. Two, because I couldn’t get a gym for the first time all summer/fall. Three, because I was with my family and four, because high school basketball season starts right after Thanksgiving.
Now, no one was working me out throughout those hundred and twenty seven days that August 2nd to November 25th gave me. I self trained myself, from shooting, to ball handling, and whatever in game situation workout you could think of, I trained myself. Yes, God blessed me with rebounders and people who would help me if I asked or needed them for drills, but I got myself off my ass everyday, got to the gym, put the work in for several hours, got in and got out, and head home to procrastinate. Every day, I did this. I tweeted it, everyday. I said something on twitter that I was thinking during my procrastination every single day. If you were following me or not, you could remember or you could even to back and look at it now. I was focused. I was an animal. I was insane. I didn’t watch television, I didn’t go out, I didn’t chill with my friends, I ended the year long relationship I had with my girlfriend, I didn’t talk much, I spoke to Kris once every two-four weeks if anybody, and I spent months and months, nights and nights, alone in the dark. At times I’d go outside with music on, although those headphones never came off my head. I’d look up at the moon and tell myself, “that’s where I’m on my way too”. I’d look at the city, Hartford, and say it was mines as the city lights brightened up the night. I would think back to where I had come from, from the injury and the miserable sophomore year, to this work ethic. Yet no one knew how hard I was working, maybe one or two people. But no one knew but me, but they’d see the results. I knew they would. The junior year me wouldn’t be who they saw last year. No where near. This was someone with a scholarship offer. This was someone who had coaches coming to see his workouts all fall. This was someone who had been on a few college visits to schools who were recruiting him. This was someone who hadn’t taken a day off since he returned home from Florida. This was someone that Kris Dunn took under his wing. This was someone that was determined to beat the odds, and prove that a Class S player could make it out of this conference, out of this city, out of this state, and he didn’t have to be nearly seven feet and a freak athlete with unmeasurable talent and skill like Andre Drummond was. This was someone who God had big things planned for. This was someone that had to be patient, and spent night after night alone after long days of the same work ethic and ritual over and over and over again. This is someone who kept getting more and more offers as the summer and fall went on, yet kept going because of what Kris Dunn had told him. This was someone who knew his future, before it even got here. This was someone who cried about his accomplishments, months before he accomplished them. This was someone, who would get what he deserved. This was someone who became a better person and better friend than he’d ever been. This was someone who didn’t sleep because he was up all night just procrastinating about who’d he become and how the city and others would treat him after he’d become that person. This was someone that prayed to God through those odds and hardships of his sophomore year, and continued to pray through this work ethic. This someone who God told, would blow up. This is someone who knew. This is someone who was certain, no one would stop him. This is someone who believed that it’d all pay off. This someone, was me. And no one knew, but me. I told a few people who were close to me, they called me cocky, and over confident and told me “you still have to go out there and play”. And I knew that, but I wasn’t concerned because I was sure. I was so sure. So confident. So trained. So blessed. I just knew what was gonna happen. I knew what my future held, and that’s one of the things that this work ethic brought me, certainty. I was able to dictate the results of my work ethic before they ever appeared in the actually game. I had seen the hype, exposure, love, and more hate-love way than I had ever received before it was attracted to me. And now it was time to play. My first game of the season, I score twenty four. It was an efficient game. We lost, but I felt good about how I played and told myself that I wouldn’t continue to let my team fail. The very next game was forty eight hours away. It’s December 18th, I sleep in, and don’t awaken until after noon time. I planned this, because Kris Dunn was playing in the same event as I was but he was playing earlier than I was, I had a night game and he had an evening game. I head to his game, and nothing had changed. He’s still playing as if he has something to prove. The gym is packed, which looked like at least one thousand people there to see the best player in the state that’s heading to Providence, and is ranked the number two point guard in the country after that past summer we had together. And he had been my drive in force, so I had to be one of those thousand people in the stance. He played well, not great, but well. He misses a three pointed to seal the game as time expires, and I’m upset. Not at him, but because he lost. I wanted him to win because I’m his biggest fan. But I have to head to my school to meet my team because we play after the next game. I rush over to him to say what’s up because I hadn’t seen him since we got back from Florida. He’s his normal humorous self, and makes me laugh, then asks what time I play. I tell him “after this game”, I shake his hand, and I head to meet my team. Now I hadn’t known what was in store, or what God had planned for me that night, but I had been patient all summer and all fall and knew what would happen, just didn’t know when. I’ve had this song by Lupe Fiasco called “Lightwork” on repeat all day, hadn’t listened to anything else since I’ve woken up. I had not eaten all day either. But I am thinking about Kris and how he lost that game and everybody cheered, and how he hates losing, yet he’s going to play at a big east school and the players he loses too aren’t going anywhere. It made me wonder, what pushed him so much, what drives him, and it’s respect, pride for his school, and New London. And I had the same drive, deep down inside of me, and on this night, it came out of me. Over one thousand and two hundred people fill the stands for this Class S, showdown. Yes, Class S. We’re playing against the team that took our conference title and ended our season in the semi-finals last year so a lot of emotions and hype are thrown into this game. Off tip off, I score. And from there, I put on a show that’ll be remember by my city, my school, and the event, forever. The game goes into double overtime, and we end up winning. I was going back in forth with their best scorer, who had forty seven points. But me, I finish the game with fifty one points, and the win. Fifty one points. 51. I’m tired, I’m soar, yet too overwhelmed by the moment to realize that I have a painful stomach ache that is killing me because I hadn’t eaten all day and just played a double over time game in which I scored fifty one points. My city showed me love, from kids to adults. I had a couple interviews about it, and the paper had one as well. And this, until the spring, was the best moment of my life. Not because everything I saw through my eyes and in my head during those long nights was now reality, but because I SAID THIS WAS GONNA HAPPEN. I said it, and it happened. It all paid off. And I did it in front of my city, my friends, coaches, my loved ones, people who didn’t know me, people who knew me, and people I hadn’t known that wanted to know me for the wrong reasons and right reasons, I did it in front of them right after my idol played. I did it for him. I hadn’t mentioned this before, but he had forty six points and nineteen rebounds the next before. So I wanted to show him that I was next, and that I was the little brother to him that he maybe didn’t realize, and that everything he told me did stick with me and that I was going to do what he did, if not better. And I think on that night, my confidence rose even greater because I knew that with patience, hard work, prayer, a good attitude, positive personality, and consistency would bring me the results I deserved, every single time. I believed that.
So throughout the season, I just enjoyed the love and kept working hard in practice. I was just in my own little world. I had college coaches and stuff coming to my games, offering me. I just felt special, already. And I knew I was. It got hard for me not to break out of this shell I had been in and express myself, but I didn’t want to seem cocky to anybody because I wasn’t cocky, my confidence level was just out of this world due to what had been happening and what had happened. I would walk the halls saying slick and smart remarks, that made me seem to confident for my own good. But I knew it was gonna happen, I knew my future. I knew where I would end up. Then again, I didn’t know when, but I was patience so I knew it’d be soon. Next thing you know, I’m back in the semi-finals, it’s March 16th, I’ve been here before, but now it’s with a different opponent. An opponent that I scored thirty four against in front Andre Drummond, Anthony Jernigan, and Danny Lawhorn, who all at the time were representing the state very well my freshman year. This was an opponent that I scored eight points against my sophomore year in the season opener, sadly and misreably. This was the same opponent that beat us the first game earlier this season, and so I wanted this game for three reasons. One, I never beat them in my three years of high school basketball. Two, this was the semi-final round in which we lost in last year one game away from the title game which is played at Mohegan Sun Arena so I wanted to get us over that hump and redeem ourselves. And three, this was one game away from a title. And so I went off, scored twenty two points but most of it was in the second half. And after the game, our school rushes the court, and the love is ridiculous. I get three interviews, one by CPTVSPORTS who was televising the game, and one by ESPN, and one by MSG Varsity. This was the best moment of my life, not because we got over the hump, because again, I knew what was gonna happen, and then it happened. Plus everyone was there, and I mean, everyone. Next stop, the title game. And I spend the night before, alone with my music on once again in my hotel room. I tell you this to help you people realize that nothing changed; the fame, the love, the winning, the interviews, and the triumph had not changed me. I knew there was still one more win to concur. And I also knew that Kris had been here last year and won the title going into his blow up spring and summer, so I wanted to follow in his foot steps and do the same. All that training, all that thinking, all those nights alone, all that procrastinating, and all that praying had to bring me this title. Especially after that past. It had too. The story has to have this event. I figured that it was only, right. And the next twenty four hours are devastating. March 18th, we not only lose by double digits, but I shoot a terrible 2/13 from behind the arc, and 6/18 from the field for the game. I finish the game with a miserable 15 points. And I am devastated. I think to myself, why did it have to be this way? All that training, I took two days off (Thanksigiving and Christmas) for this lost? This can’t be happening, I told myself. However, I didn’t cry, yet. I went out to eat with Adam Rubin (Crusader 22 Productions, a camera man and video producer/editor I became close with), Andre Drummond, and Kris Dunn, who had all been at the game. I go with them not only because I love them, but because I knew they’d make me smile and feel better. They are proud of me, and the conversation between Kris and I after the game is printed below:
Kris Dunn: Me and dre was there bro, its igh you win some and you lose some, but the best part was you lead your team to the sun. Now its time to grind for summer and get high D1 looks, you got it in you
Me: Yo this shit hurts bro I worked my ass off to get to the sun! I was with you the whole time, since Indiana I been following your footsteps. And I just wanted to win at the sun my junior season like you, and I came up short. The only thing left to do now is blow up in the circuit like you did. And I know I’m gonna, but this shit is killing me inside
Kris Dunn: Bruh you did a good job, i had a good team, ur team is good but you clearly see that you put them on yah back the whole way… And remember during the circuit never quit, play hard both ways and take over games… When ur going up good comp, u gotta kill bro.. Be a leader, dont follow no one. When the lights is on, its time to grind for the shine… Man you got it in you, you killed with us in a higher level. Now ur playing ur age. Than next season take no L’s and win the chip
Me: Thank you, yeah I carried them but you taught me to never be satisfied. I couldn’t settle for that lost and look myself in the mirror and say “you did a good job”, everything about that lost, hurt. But you right, during the circuit I have to turn this thing up and push myself to a greater level, I haven’t developed that motor that you have, but I feel like I have a desire to win that may be able to be a motor type of thing for me. I do what I trained to do this summer, and next season, winning is the only option and I’ll be back at the casino, for sure.. I know I will I know bro, I know
I’ma do it
Kris Dunn: Lets get it, i gotta do the same for college
Me: I’m with you
And then we go out to eat, they cheer me up, make me feel a little better or if not then they at least kept the game off of my mind for a couple hours.
We go back to watch the Class M, Class L, and Class LL title games.
I watch how Kris and Andre are treated by others, they are smothered by others for autographs, pictures, and just attract so much attention and turn so many heads. I’m walking with them and I feel like nobody after that lost earlier. We depart in the arena and I’m watching the other games. I look down at the court as the teams celebrate their wins after the final buzzard and I think to myself, “None of these teams, players, worked harder than me. Why are they getting this and not me?”. I was speaking to myself but I was referring to God. I wanted to cry right there. But I take the next day off to let the lost control my thoughts and I was just thinking of how different it’d be if we won. Yeah we made history by making it there, even Andre Drummond couldn’t get my school to a title game, but I wanted to win that, I deserved that, at least that’s how I felt. But the next day, I head right back to the gym. After taking my third day off, I figured I had to stay committed to my ritual no matter what because I still had a huge spring and huge summer like Kris had, to have that awaited me. And then I quickly thought about how God doesn’t give us the things we want, to give us something better. I wouldn’t be playing again until Vegas, where I’ve been before, and I knew that it’d be huge for me. So I kept working and working until April 20th came. Kept working, kept working, kept praying, kept spending nights alone, kept staying patient, kept training. I would look up at my city and tell myself that if God wasn’t gonna give me that title game, he’d have to be giving me Vegas. He had to be. It only made sense. It only added up. I knew my future, so if the state title wasn’t what I saw, then it had to be Vegas. It just had to be.
Off to Vegas, with that mindset, with months of training, thinking, and etc etc. The ritual brought me here. For these couple of days. And I’m back where I was last summer with Andre Drummond and Kris Dunn. The first game, I play ok. Not great but I play fine. I stay patient. Again, this has to be it. My next game is against Dream Vision, and I remember them, for sure. My breakout game. But now it’s my age group. And this is it. I hadn’t known, due to a slow and rough start, but this was it. I finish half time with fifteen or so points. Somewhere around there. And I finish the game with forty one. 41. In front of UCLA, USC, and several others. Now this happened due to a heartfelt performance I put on in the second half. Possession after possession I gave my all, I remember Kris being here. And now I’m here, doing the same thing, giving the same effort. I worked so hard for this, the time is now for me. And I completely steal the show. 41.
And then it hits me. I did it. That was it.
The players show me love, and so does everyone else.
And my high school coach is there to share it with me, I love him.
However, I do not know about the news I am about to receive, and neither does he.
I’m walking with one of my AAU coaches, coach Brandon Frame.
A text. He receives a text.
Meanwhile I’m walking ahead of them so I have no clue.
But something tells me to turn around and walk with them out the gym.
I walk back, and together they introduce me to a text that basically reads: “Coach, this is USC (Southen California), we like one of your players, Khalil Dukes, we want to offer him.”
I pray to God I never forget that day, that game, that moment where I feel like everything I was set out to do, everything I saw myself doing, everything I trained for, everything they told me I couldn’t do or wouldn’t do or wouldn’t get, everything they had against me, all odds, all negativity, everything I spent nights alone procrastinating about, everything from pain, to sacrifice, to training, to prayer, to patience, it all paid off.
After nine long months of nothing but the same ritual.
I had finally did it.
I had written about it, I had said I’d do it.
And I knew I would do it, and I did it.
Little did I know, I was just getting started, but God almighty I did it.
My next game held the attendance of UConn, UCLA, USC again, LSU, Providence, and more.
I killed, again. I remember what Kris said, and how he was never satisfied. I realized now that I had to prove that I was as good as USC thought, every night and every game because now I am getting the attention I worked so hard for.
And when I let twitter and everyone know, everyone embraced me. Everyone.
Kris Dunn called me while I was still in Vegas and congratulated me and told me to keep going because this is only the beginning, and since then, I’ve kept going.
My biggest admiration and idol was proud of me. That meant more to me than I could ever put in words.
I continued to play up to the hype, through the April live period. My high school coach stressed that I took the day I got back from Vegas, off. And I did. But as crazy, addicted, and committed to this work ethic as I was, I couldn’t stop now. And I was in the gym the next day, again. And I’ve been killing, ever since.
My work ethic just put this confidence, certainty, trust, and love inside of me.
I can go out and play against the best this country has to offer and know that I’ll perform the same way I performed in front of USC because of the trust I have in my training and in God.
I know things will happen, because I worked for them, I did it the right way, and God rewards me for it, continuously.
As I evaluate myself, I realize that this piece of writing will reach someone.
I do not know who, but I do know it’ll spark the ambition in someone to follow me like I followed Kris and Andre.
All it takes is for you to see someone do it, like I did when I saw Kris.
And I thank Kris time and time again.
And I’m still going.
My recruitment has risen. I’ve gone from being the number one recruit on a low major-mid major school’s list, to the number one recruit on a high major’s list.
I proved that a Class S player can make it to the high major level if he followed a ritual to get him there.
I proved that anything is possible.
I proved that it doesn’t matter the conference, school, competition, or environment you come from.
What matters is your circle, your idolizations, your work ethic, your dedication to accomplishing your goals, your ambition to proving others wrong, your commitment to being someone and making a miracle happen or something rare that doesn’t happen every other year, the time you sacrifice, surrounding yourself around the right people who will get you where you want to be (who I had in Kasey Hill, Kris Dunn, and Andre Drummond), people who will support you and love you (who I had in Coach Levy, Dr. Perry, Mr. Fulton, CJ Morrison, AJ Hart, Nick Sherman and everybody else who ever helped me during workouts and perfect my craft every day after school until the janitor kicked me out of the gym so he could lock up the school), your relationship with God, your trust in him, your relationship with yourself, your trust in yourself, your belief in that all this work will pay off, and your amount of patience through the bad times and when success and results seem to be blurry.
Those things are what matters most.
If you have those things, hard work will always pay off.
Also you want to treat people well because it took me a year to realize that my image would mean more than basketball meant, one day. And as good as God is to me, the least I could do is be good to others.
And all year, I have.
And look at me.
The miracle maker.
And I’m still going.
They said this and said that, but I made it happen.
Y’all wanted to know how it’s possible and y’all were confused with my success, well all the above is your answer.
This is as best as I could explain it.
Simple ritual, hard to follow.
Today is Sunday, June 3rd. And all year on my days away from the gym, I’ve watched film so even if I wasn’t perfecting my skills for the game, I was bettering my IQ for the game so that I could make better decisions with the basketball and be more efficient.
So I lived up to “No Days Off”.
And days away from the gym ache me, I’m not even myself on those days. I text one word answers and sad faces. My peers ask what’s wrong and I say “I don’t know”, knowing that I cannot explain all of this to them in a text.
And til this day, four off days out of almost a year sounds crazy to me.
But with what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve come from, and what it took to get here, I’m proud of me.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because I’m unsatisfied.
Even when a chapter ends, the story must continue.
Now I haven’t given you my whole story, but I’ve given you the work ethic side.
Someone else, will write my story one day, soon.
And I’m working on, the ending to this story.
Y’all gonna love this story.
Your very own,
P.S. - the ritual continues
Thank you Smitty, Thank you JR, Thank you Coach Gaetano, Thank you Sully, Thank you Coach Levy, Thank you everybody who helped me workout all those days and nights, Thank you family for supporting me, Thank you Coach Levy, Thank you Coach Zo, Thank you Coach Duncan, Thank you Capital Prep teammates and CBC teammates, Thank you Mom, Thank you C, Thank you Nick, Thank you Kasey Hill, Andre Drummond, and KRIS DUNN I love you bro, and Thank you everybody for reading this, supporting me, and Thank you GOD!
“Always remember, no one can stop you” - Kris Dunn