Darmetreis Kilgore’s story of perseverance.
SLAM: Who were you recruited by while you were at JuCo and how exciting was it for you to go through the process again?
DK: I was recruited by UNLV, Purdue, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kansas, etc. This was a very exciting time for me going through the recruiting process all over again and it felt great to be wanted—especially after working so hard and having some setbacks in my career.
SLAM: You decided to attend Purdue University, where you played for legendary coach Gene Keady. Why did you decide to go there and how was your experience under Keady?
DK: I decided to attend Purdue University because it was close to home and everyone could come and see me play. Another reason was that Coach Keady was making frequent trips to see me, and that spoke volumes. I gave Coach my word and that is what I stuck to. Coach Keady taught me valuable life lessons and to understand the game of basketball, on and off the court. I thank Coach for showing me how to play hard at all times and to be a great defender.
The only part I didn’t agree with is that Coach Keady didn’t allow me to be as athletic as my teammates and I knew I was. I could score at will, but was confined to a system. We didn’t win games like we should have and some individuals didn’t want to be held accountable for their play, which made our chemistry not as strong as it could have been. Before I went to Purdue, I should have looked more in depth at the returning players and made sure that there was a system in place that I could succeed in. Overall Coach Keady is a great person and will help his players out even after they are finished playing for him. I still call and check on Gene Keady from time to time.
SLAM: Describe your career at Purdue.
DK: My junior year was very tough for me. We did not win many games and due to us not winning, every mistake was getting pulled to the surface. I went from a starter to coming off the bench because Coach believed in his seniors at the time to win games. My senior year we did a much better job competing and we had better chemistry. Our team made it the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second Round to Texas. My career at Purdue did not meet my expectations on the court, but I had a great experience traveling the world and got a degree out of the deal.
SLAM: I know you had a shot with an NBA team or two… What happened with that?
DK: When I finished at Purdue, my draft stock was non-existent and once again I was faced with adversity. Coach Keady called me into his office and asked me if I needed him to do anything, and I said I needed an NBA tryout. Coach made a phone call to the Philadelphia 76ers and they brought me in on a free-agent tryout. Randy Aires was the head coach at the time and Kyle Kover and Willie Green were my workout partners. I did well in the camp; I was the first one to the gym and the last to leave every day. Counzo Martin (who is now the head coach at Tennessee) told me that they really liked me and wanted to bring me in for summer league the next year, but Coach Aires was fired due to a losing record and I had to reset my goals.
SLAM: You coach AAU now for MBA Select in Indiana. How did you end up doing that? What do you like about coaching the future of this game?
DK: I ended up coaching MBA Select because my son was chosen to play and I always want to have a hand in coaching or developing my son when I can. Rod Creech and I go way back—when I was in high school I attended one of his camps and that allowed me to become a much improved shooter. Rod had followed my career and agreed that it would be a great idea for me to help out. This was a great move; I have enjoyed my players and their parents as well. It was a blessing in disguise because I am able to impart my drive and love of the game to my players. I truly believe my players enjoy playing for me because they want to be around me to ask questions and they play hard for me. That is all I can ask for as the coach. My experiences are very conducive to where the game of basketball is going, where the future players are trying to go, and to have the mindset to fight through adversity.
SLAM: What is the moral of Darmetreis Kilgore’s story? What can younger players learn from your career?
DK: Even though life has its ups and downs, these situations help build character and perseverance. Younger players can learn that you must have a plan A, B and C to ensure that you will have the best chance in adulthood. The game of basketball is a huge networking circle: If you conduct your affairs in the right manner, you can be put in a lucrative coaching position or living out your dreams playing in the NBA or overseas. Who knows, I might even give my dream another shot. Trust me, I am still very deadly anytime I step on the court.