You’ve watched the Final Four on television and probably dreamed of playing in the championship game. Maybe you’ve been on a court and pretended that time is running out and you make the game-winning shot. UConn and Kentucky players will get to experience the real thing Monday night when they meet for the NCAA championship.
Kid Reporter Jake Aron interviewed players from both teams and asked this question on Sunday afternoon: Most kids at home dream about playing for a national championship. How is the reality of this moment different from what you expected?
UConn junior swingman Lasan Kromah: It’s crazy just being on the big stage at Cowboys Stadium – all the lights, the cameras, the attention. It’s just kind of surreal.
Kentucky freshman EJ Floreal: It was a dream going to the Final Four and having a Final Four patch (on the jersey) and everything like that. The atmosphere was insane. It doesn’t even compare to what I thought it would be when I was growing up.
UConn walk-on Nnamdi Amilo: I guess the big thing is that when you think about the championship game, you only imagine the championship game. You don’t think about the practice, the scouting or video that comes with it. It’s a lot harder than what I imagined. The moment is still great, but it’s a lot harder, to be honest with you.
Kentucky freshman guard Dominique Hawkins: It feels like a dream still, to be honest. I really don’t know how it’s going to work out, but when we walk out on the court, there’s going to be 80,000 people and it’s going to be an honor to see that.
UConn freshman forward Kentan Facey: It’s totally different from what I expected. I’m from Jamaica, so what I expect of basketball is 10 times less magnified than what I’m experiencing right now. The atmosphere, the arena, the gym out there – it’s mind-blowing.
Kentucky freshman forward Marcus Lee: There is no difference. Once you get here, you turn into a child again. You’re absolutely loving it.
UConn senior guard Tor Watts: As a kid, I didn’t really know about the reporters or anything like that. I thought you just go out there and play. Seeing the whole process and seeing what goes into a national championship – all the work you guys put into it – that’s a big difference.
Kentucky junior guard Tod Lanter: It’s exactly what I expected. It’s a dream come true.
UConn sophomore guard Omar Calhoun: No one really thinks that they would be in this position. You envision it, but to actually be here is two different things. There’s just a different feeling that goes through your body.
Kentucky sophomore Willy Cauley-Stein: It’s not much different. Personally, I’m still a kid, so what I was thinking about at your age, is what I’m thinking about now. It’s just fun.