Clark Kellogg is one of the foremost authorities on college basketball analysis. He took some time to chat with me about the upcoming season, the Kentucky basketball culture, having his voice in a video game, and I asked him if he would rather have had John Wall or Tyler Ulis as his point guard during his playing days.
Clark was a scholarship athlete during his time at Ohio State. Now he is involved with the Capital One Cup scholarship program. He's a sixth-year ambassador for the award which is given to the nation's best men's and women's athletics programs, along with a total of $400K in student-athlete scholarships.
To date, the program has given out over $2 million to various university scholarship funds. Check out the website for the Capital One Cup at www.capitalonecup.com
Here is the interview; if you have 15 minutes, check it out, along with portions of the interview transcribed below.
I asked Clark what it meant to him to be an ambassador for the Capital One Cup:
"I am proud to be an ambassador, have been since the inception." He thinks it is the "most comprehensive sports trophy in college athletics."
One of his most passionate thoughts about the program is that it "celebrates achievement on the field as well as the educational pursuits of student athletes."
Regarding the merit of the award, he feels "it speaks to the strength and quality of a university's athletic programs."
Shifting to hoops, I asked Clark what he thought about the growing sentiment that College Basketball is wide open this year:
Kellogg said he "doesn't necessarily agree with wide open." He says, "there are usually a handful of teams" and that every year he goes into a season and evaluates about 6 to 12 teams "that on the surface look like they can get to a Final Four and then once you are there you have a chance to win it." Kellogg says, "last year we had a team in Kentucky chasing history." While the 'Cats did not make it happen, Clark said he "thought they were really going to do it"
I asked Clark if he could pick five teams for this season that he thought were potential champions, he had this to say:
"Man I can't, you know what I would give you some teams that on paper have the ability, but until you get a little bit of a sample size of how teams play and how they fare against competition, it's just really hard."
Kellogg would go on to discuss the following teams as possibilities in that group (in no particular order):
- DUKE: He loves what Grayson Allen brings to the table, can be the linchpin for them to make another run.
- OKLAHOMA: Loves their three seniors and good young talent, if they can commit to being better defensively, they can make that jump even thought it has been a long time.
- MARYLAND: Bringing in Rasheed Sulaimon to go along with Melo Trimble and other nice pieces is a great core.
- KENTUCKY: Loves the holdovers that UK has, especially Poythress and thinks Marcus Lee is poised for a great year.
- CALIFORNIA: Kellogg loves Cal as a super sleeper as a top-5 team potential, he really likes their senior point guard Tyrone Wallace to go along with super freshman Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown.
We talked about what Cal has done at UK and just how remarkable it really is. Kellogg commented on Cal not just getting great talent, but good kids as well:
Kellogg said, "what Cal has done is really remarkable when you think about it with the turnover of players." Kellogg would go on to say, "he figures out a way, he and his staff, to get the most out of his players."
Regarding the talent and quality of kid, Kellogg would say, "he not only recruits good players, but these are good kids, as I've been around them, these are kids that wanna work, and they wanna play together, and that's a credit to Cal." Kellogg said, "Cal's track record since he's been there has perpetuated itself, the guys that are coming, they see what's happened the last 5, 6, 7 years of success."
Regarding Kentucky basketball and the atmosphere of the program:
"It's unique, and Kentucky is a unique place when it comes to basketball, always has been, I have no qualms about recognizing that." Kellogg went on to say that he "was recruited heavily by Kentucky in the late 70's, it is a basketball haven and mecca, from the fans, to the way it's revered and esteemed... it's a special basketball place."
I asked Clark about how cool it was that he was the voice of the video game franchise NBA2K.
"I never envisioned it, basketball has given to me and done more for me than I can ever give back." Kellogg likes that "it's cool, it connects me to another generation of fans that may not know what I do."
Finally, I asked Clark to think back during his playing days and would he rather have a point guard like Tyler Ulis that looked to set him up constantly or a point guard like John Wall that would draw people away from him and free him up naturally.
"Wow, man, great question, never heard it phrased quite that way, man.... I'm not trying to bail on the question but I think as a guy who played a combo forward I'd be happy with either one of those dudes."
Kellogg would go on to say that if he had to "defer and you could only give me one, I would tend to differ to size, just because if a guy is a little bigger and can do the same things the smaller guys can do...my dad told me a long time ago, good big is better than good little."
I appreciate Clark Kellogg taking his time out to speak with me and look forward hopefully hearing him call the 'Cats' National Championship win in April.