Interview with former SEC Player of the Year: Chris Lofton
Chris Lofton has spent his young career defying the odds. He was looked over by several local basketball programs and proved them wrong with an outstanding career at Tennessee. He then faced an even bigger mountain as he was diagnosed with cancer. Yet again, Chris showed tremendous heart and character as he fought through difficult circumstances all the while playing his senior season at Tennessee. I’ve watched more high school games than a normal person should and Chris Lofton is always the first person that comes to my mind as the best I’ve witnessed, outside of LeBron James of course. I hope you enjoy my interview with the sharp shooter as his season in Madrid progresses.
SD- You grew up in basketball crazy Kentucky. When did you know that basketball is what you wanted to do and who did you dream of playing for?
CL- I knew basketball was what I wanted at very young age. My mom and dad loved the game and I always was watching it on TV and going to games, so I knew b-ball is what I wanted to do. As a kid I was torn between UK and Louisville. My family was mostly Louisville fans but as a young kid I was a UK fan. As I got in middle school I became a Louisville fan because of my dad.
CL- I didn’t play as an 8th grader but going into my freshmen year my goal was to start varsity; mission accomplished. I remember going to watch the state tourney my freshmen year and I watched the state championship game. I remember telling myself I'm going to play in this game one day; mission accomplished! Mr. Basketball was a dream come true. To be in the company with great players was a great feeling.
CL- My junior year of high school was a great year - 1st State Title in Mason County history. I remember after that night I didn’t sleep. I was too excited. The following we had at Rupp Arena was amazing. It got loud in there for us and our team fed off that.
CL- Great feeling. It was like I couldn’t miss - everything was falling. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball. Our team was so good together. We didn’t care who had the most points; we just cared about winning. Now we all have rings.
CL- Yeah, we had a lot of setbacks but still managed to get to the championship game without our second leading scorer. I didn’t agree on how it all went down but we stayed together and played hard with what we had. Can’t ask for nothing else. Yeah I think about that game still but cannot revive the past. Jay Z said it best... ON TO THE NEXT ONE...
CL- Yeah. No colleges really wanted me; it made me work even harder. That was my motivation - to prove everybody wrong.
CL- Yeah a tough freshmen year at Tennessee filled with lots of losing which I don’t deal with real well. I was leaving no doubt but something told me I needed to stay and try the new coach out. I’m glad I did.
CL- My first impression of Bruce was discipline. I remember a few people had skipped study hall and Bruce found out - his first day on the job. He made us get up the next morning and run at 5 am. I wish I didn’t have to run but we needed that.
CL- The shot against Winthrop was a great feeling. Hitting the game winner of an NCAA tournament game; a dream come true. I remember leaving the huddle saying I’m shooting this no matter what!
CL- My junior year was the best for me. I remember the summer before staying in Knoxville all summer and training harder than ever. Weight room, gym, eating healthy etc. I was so determined. We lost to Ohio State in a heartbreaker in the Sweet 16. I still think bout that game today.
SD- Your shot against Kevin Durant to defeat Texas was incredible. Talk about your mindset at the end of games.
CL- At the end of the games I wanted the ball every time. It was a matter of my confidence. I felt that I worked so hard during the summer, getting extra shots up, I felt that the ball was going in every time. I know it didn’t every time, but I thought it was, hahahha.
CL- Being an All American and SEC Player of the Year were my favorite awards. For the simple fact that nobody wanted me then they say I’m one of the best in the country. I remember calling my parents so excited - great day!
CL- It was the toughest thing I went through in my life thus far; being diagnosed with cancer. You hear about people all the time having cancer but you never think its going to happen to you. A college athlete? No way. But I’ll never forget that day, when I failed the drug test and kept going to hospitals to see what was wrong with me. Then the truth came out; the doctor told me I had cancer. I fell to the ground and just laid on the floor. When I heard cancer, I assumed I was on my death bed. When I finally got up the doc told me everything was going to be ok and that they had treatments that was going to take care of everything. It made me feel better hearing that but still cancer scared me.
CL- Playing in Turkey was a good experience. It was hard at first. I have never been that far away from the States for such a long period of time but it was the best thing for me. I’m glad I did it. The language barrier was the hardest; not understanding what was going on.
SD- You are now playing in Spain. How would you rank the quality of competition there? Do you enjoy living there?
CL- Spain is a tough league. Some say its the best but I don’t know as I‘ve only been to one other country but the competition is way better than Turkey. I like the living better than Turkey. I’m in Madrid. It’s a big city so more people speak English, so that’s good. There's still nothing like the USA food though!
CL- My team right now is in like 9th place I think. We have a real good shot at the playoffs so we have to win some games! We struggle on the road. I’ve been here since December and we haven’t won a road game yet. The team hasn’t won a road game since November. Yeah I know... bad... but hopefully we can get some road wins soon! I really don’t know my stats honestly. I’m guessing I’m averaging maybe round 14. We have a balanced scoring team. Nobody is averaging over 13 or 14 I would say. Again not positive on that...
CL- Last year I trained in Knoxville and Lexington. I was taking summer classes so I was working out with the team and stuff. I also worked out in Lexington. I have a trainer there that I do drills with when I’m around. I‘ll probably be in Lexington again but not sure.
SD- Do you still have your sights set on the NBA? In my opinion there are few in the league who have the range you have.
CL- The NBA has always been a dream of mine but I can’t complain about playing in Europe. I’m on God’s plan so I take it one day at a time.
CL- Yeah, I still keep up with the Vols. I watch games on the internet when I’m up late. I bleed ORANGE!
CL- It should be an interesting tourney. The number 1 seeds are real important. It’s an easier way to the final. I’m ready to see what happens. There is a lot of young talent out there.
CL- My health is great. I cannot complain.
SD- Thanks Chris! Good luck with the rest of the season.
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