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Undrafted was established by the roots of Sean Kilpatrick, #6 of the Brooklyn Nets. Sean has always faced struggles in his battle to the top, dating well before his tremendous collegiate basketball career at the University of Cincinnati. But given that he was 24 and a senior, he wasn’t high on draft boards.
He went Undrafted.
So Sean went to the D-League.
He struggled in a lot of games in the D-League, especially in his first year. He had been drafted by Santa Cruz, but during the season he was traded to Delaware. He didn’t know exactly what it was he needed to do to get an NBA look. His play was up and down. There were games where he would do well, and a lot of games where he didn’t know if he had done well or not. It was really hard to tell. Friends who had been in his ear at Cincy faded away — people thought he was supposed to be in the NBA, but there he was, in Sioux Falls for a road game against the Heat’s D-League team. The only people calling Sean were his parents, who asked him if he had a warm enough coat to wear. (Sioux Falls, man.)
What’s great about the D-League is that someone is always watching — even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Sean had a string of great games at one point in the season, and he started getting call-ups out of nowhere based on his success in Delaware. First he went to the Timberwolves, then to the Nuggets. Then, the Nets. Each time, the call up was for 10 days.
Here's a quick mention about 10-day contracts - you’re living out of a suitcase. But that’s not even close to the most uncomfortable thing about the situation. You can’t do anything wrong. Sean says, "I'm a guy who is big on being on time — being on time has never been an issue for me. The rule of thumb is, if you’re eager to impress, you have to be there 15 minutes early." On a 10-day, you've gotta be there 30 minutes before, if not earlier. You've always gotta be one of the guys shooting after the game and lifting weights. You’re so tired, and you can see all the guys on contracts relaxing, but you've gotta stay late and grind. You've gotta be the first one at the gym in the morning. When it’s time for a game, you’re already exhausted, but you've gotta dig deep and find the energy to go all out when you get minutes. (If you get minutes.)
But it gave Sean an edge. It made him realize that you've gotta have that mindset all the time, because someone else in the league is working just as hard as you. When Sean Marks and Brooklyn decided to pull the trigger on Kilpatrick to give him a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season last year — man, what a relief — Sean Marks pulled Kilpatrick aside and told him that he was one of his guys. They have a little joke about it, because offering me a contract was one of his first transactions — “Let’s not screw this up for each other.” Even though Kilpatrick wasn’t a lottery pick or anything, Sean Marks made sure that Kilpatrick was part of the plan going forward and that Marks was invested in Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick wanted to leave Marks with a good impression.
It all comes back to Sean's upbringing, to his parents, and to the choice he made when he was a kid - to surround himself with people who would prop him up.
Not a lot of players come out of Sean's situation and make it to the NBA, but it’s good to have people who’ve got your back.
New York takes pride in their pro teams — all the New York guys on the Nets feel it, and it fuels our competitive spirit. Every guy coming from New York has a lot of pressure on them. Even though it’s a privilege to play here and Sean take it super seriously, and he doesn't feel nervous. He doesn't need to be. He doesn't need to put pressure on myself. Everyone in New York knows who he us. He feels blessed.
Every time Sean gets to the arena, He doesn't feel worried about anything.
Hard work requires sacrifice. It pushes you to your limits. But being undrafted taught Sean the ultimate reality in facing adversity - if you put your head down and do the very best you can every single day, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. The only thing stopping you, is you.
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