Stockton doesn't let size stand in his way

November 04, 2003|JESSICA VAUGHT

Most of us would agree being 5-9 and weighing only 167 pounds are not the credentials of a typical Kentucky basketball player. However, sophomore Brandon Stockton makes these credentials work for him.

Growing up, Stockton was always the littlest kid in the neighborhood. He was teased and picked on, but he never let it get to him and it certainly never intimidated him.

"I was always little, but it helped me because playing against bigger kids made me better," Stockton said.

Being as small as he was, he had to have a big heart to survive athletically because he was better suited size-wise for a lot of sports other than basketball. However, he always had a great passion for basketball.

"I always had a love for basketball. I loved to play and I liked watching it on TV," said Stockton.

Still, even with his love for basketball, his size was always working against him. It wasn't until high school that he realized that he had the potential to become a Division I basketball player.


"In high school (at Glasgow) the coach told me I was good," Stockton said.

Stockton believed it.

"I was playing against great players on all-star teams and I was just as good as them," he said.

That developed one plus for Stockton - confidence - that helped offset his lack of size. Just as the big kids on the block in his early year didn't intimidate him, the big players on the court don't intimidate him, either.

"They make me a better player," said the backup point guard.

Not that some teammates still don't tease him about his size.

"I don't get it from the freshman, only the upperclassmen. But it's all in fun," Stockton said.

Coming to Kentucky as the state's Mr. Basketball could have put unreal expectations on Stockton. However, he was content to fill a needed role last year, especially early in the season when veteran point guard Cliff Hawkins was academically ineligible.

"It was everything that I expected it to be and then some," Stockton said of his first year.

Stockton said he was well prepared for UK's style of play because his high school coach, Bart Flener, modeled Glasgow's basketball program after Tubby Smith's style.

Flener is now the head coach at Lexington Catholic, and one of Stockton's coaches off the court.

"We talk often. He tells me I need to work on this or I need to work on that. It makes me take a look at my game," Stockton said. "He was a great high school coach and he is a great benefit to me now. I've seen a big improvement in my game but I'm still working hard."

Even if he isn't getting any bigger, Stockton feels that his role with the Wildcats will increase.

"I feel I've already been a big help to Cliff by playing last season," Stockton said. "It's important the Patrick (Sparks) and I help put pressure on Cliff and Gerald (Fitch) in practice in order to make them better."

Stockton isn't looking to score a lot of points even though Smith recently praised his shooting both from the outside and at the foul line.

"I want to settle the team down when I come into the game. That's my main job," Stockton said. "We have to play more as a team. The better we play together, the better team we will be."

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