Most kids, especially boys, aspire to become a professional athlete when they grow up and really have their mind set on it throughout the years. Unfortunately, for most, that dream never becomes a reality except for a select few.
Kevin Bridgewaters, a 2003 Adair County High School graduate, has been playing professional basketball for six years overseas and continues to enjoy the opportunity.
Bridgewaters was the leading scorer in the state of Kentucky as a high school senior and was runner-up for Mr. Basketball.
After high school, he attended a JUCO school at Wabash Valley College and was ranked in the top 50 of JUCO prospects. From there, he went on to play at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga for the Mocs.
At UTC, he played in all 33 games and averaged seven points per game and a couple rebounds per game. He also dished out more than 60 assists in the season and had a career-high 21 points in one of the games.
Bridgewaters has now completed six years playing in the professional league overseas and while right now he is in the states until about September, he will go back to playing ball very soon.
Just because Kevin is in the states now and not with his team overseas doesn’t mean he is just taking it easy and not focusing on finessing his game. He stays busy and always trying to improve his game by practicing and training with others.
“I’ll spend lots of time training with some of my NBA friends that I know, Bridgewaters said. “We help each other and get prepared for the season each year so that’s what I’ll be doing mostly to work on my craft.”
“I’ll also be working with my personal trainer. It helps me prepare myself in my body for a full physical season, so that’s mostly what I do each and every summer.”
Basketball is Bridgewaters’ life and continuing to do what he loves and using his talents is a great gift. Most would love the opportunity to do what he does and he knows that as well and is happy for the time he has had so far.
“My biggest accomplishment is lasting six years doing what I love,” he said. “I was ranked in the top 100 players in Europe a couple years back and the number six point guard overall.
Bridgewaters played with the team Al Khor last season that is located in Qatar, Asia and hopes to be back there when the upcoming season starts back up. He is looking for a two to three year contract with the team and hopes to land one worth big money. He plays in the Asian League where, according to Bridgewaters, basketball is not very big.
Although Kevin is not big on bragging about his accomplishments, they are worth warranting and help to show just how good he has been since playing pro ball. He won player of the year twice, guard of the year and defensive player of the year three times, named to first team all-league five times and second team al-league once.
On top of all that, Bridgewaters has finished in the top five in scoring and assists in all six seasons as a pro. He has had a few 40 and 50 point games and his best game was in the Russian playoffs. In that game he recorded 34 points, 21 assists, 13 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers.
He said his family has watched him play online a few times and he has only had two games shown on NBA TV but they were shown randomly. Bridgewaters did state that he has had many friends fly over to watch him play as well.
Being from Adair County, I asked him how often he gets to come back and visit everyone here in his hometown.
“I visit Adair County about six times a summer,” Bridgewaters said. “I’m normally just in for a few hours or a day and a half at the max.”
Those who have dreams of making a career out of the sport and truly dedicate yourself to it, it can be done. Kevin’s advice for players hoping to continue their careers was very encouraging.
“It’s all about keeping God first, focus, hard work and dedication,” he said. “I’m never satisfied. I’m constantly working on my craft whether it’s mentally or physically. I’m always studying the game somehow, even during the game.”
“I’ve learned to think four or five steps ahead. I never truly learned how to focus until I played for two legendary Serbian coaches and they drilled me on focusing,” Bridgewaters said. “They were extremely hard on me. I had no free days; they had me watching hours and hours of film for every game, mostly on myself watching my mistakes.”
When asked if he enjoyed basketball as much now as he used to when he first started and if he always knew that one day he would be continuing his basketball career, he was very enthusiastic in talking about his love for the game.
“I love the game of basketball so much words can’t describe,” Bridgewaters said. “I knew this would be what I would do for a living. There were days I had my doubts wondering if I was good enough, tall enough, strong enough, fast or quick enough. But I killed all that fear with all my hard work and dedication.”
“There will be no player on the court with more heart than me,” he said. “I play fearless regardless who you are. I have a very high confidence before a game because I make sure to prepare myself in all aspects of the game way more than anyone on the court with me that night.”
Like he said before, Kevin thinks four to five steps ahead in order to try to read offenses and defenses, but he admits that it’s not an easy task.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “I didn’t get it right on my first try and after six years I’m still learning.”
Adair County is proud to have a native small town guy playing in the pro league and getting to do what he loves. It’s nice to hear about how things are going and about all the accomplishments that he has had so far, with hopefully more to come.
By Josh Withers