Kenneth Lofton, Jr. grew accustomed to wearing red, white and blue during his freshman campaign at Louisiana Tech.
Now the Bulldog forward will don the same color scheme as he heads to Europe with the Team USA to play in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia.
After impressing the college basketball world – even Fran Fraschilla … finally – Junior used the same skillset to impress the coaches during a two-day tryout at TCU last week as he was one of 12 players out of 27 invitees that made Team USA.
The Port Arthur, Texas, native’s rise to becoming a household name in the college basketball world got another boost. Now he will represent his country after catching the eye of the coaches for Team USA.
“Training camp was a hard battle,” said Junior. “As it went along, I just continued to play basketball. Just do what I was doing in the season my freshman year.”
The news comes as no surprise to Bulldog fans who watched the 6-foot-8 rookie bully his way to the Conference USA Freshman of the Year honor this past season. He averaged 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds during the season while leading Tech to a 24-8 record and the West Division title.
Junior went from good to great during Tech’s NIT Final Four run, averaging 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in four games, including 27 points and 13 rebounds in the consolation win over Colorado State – including the game-winner with less than a second to play.
He also registered a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds vs. Mississippi State and added 22 points and seven boards in a win over Ole Miss.
Junior’s biggest games came against the biggest opponents. Now he will be on one of the biggest stages as he represents Tech and Team USA.
“When I first heard I made it, it was a blessing,” said Lofton, Jr. “To be able to be a part of the United States, to represent my family, my hometown of Port Arthur, Louisiana Tech, it is a big deal. They said it was a hard decision. It has been great competing against some of the best players in the country.”
At only 18 years of age, Junior will garner invaluable international experience that will only help him as he prepares for his sophomore season in Ruston.
He and his Team USA teammates will have just a few days to adjust to the time difference as the World Cup gets underway on July 3 against Turkey. Team USA will than face Mali on July 4 and a close preliminary play versus Australia on July 6.
“I never thought I would be playing for Team USA,” said Lofton, Jr. “It was unreal when they called to give me an opportunity to try out.”
Chalk this up as one dream come true for Lofton.
And as excited as he is about the next few weeks, he is already got his eyes set on fulfilling another dream in 2021-22 when he is back in the LA Tech red, white and blue.
“Once I get back to Ruston, I will continue to keep doing what I have been doing, grinding,” said Junior. “I want us to become a better team and get to the NCAA Tournament.”
PHOTO: courtesy of USA Basketball.