Feb. 13, 2012
KC Caudill has always been the tallest. In kindergarten, he dwarfed his 5-foot-3 teacher, and, in third grade, he had already grown to 5-foot-7.
But, surprisingly, he didn't want to play basketball.
"I was a baseball player and my parents, given that I was 5-foot-7, said it would probably be best for me to try out basketball," Caudill said. "I did and I never looked back."
It's probably a good thing too. Now standing and imposing 6-foot-10, the freshman center has had an impressive career so far and is learning to use his height and weight advantage to be able to stand up to tough ACC opponents.
"I'm rather an earth-bound player right now so I got to work on that, get my quickness up," Caudill noted. "Other than that, I think I'll be pretty good down the road."
Like the eight other freshmen on the team, he's adjusting to the college game. While he says that learning head coach Steve Donahue's systems was difficult for the first couple of weeks, "it's starting to flow real nice and [now we're] looking really good out there," as seen in their 64-60 upset of No. 15 Florida State.
"It's so much faster and everyone's so much stronger and more athletic that it's kind of a big jump, especially when we got into ACC play," he explained.
For Caudill, coming off the bench has been particularly challenging. After all, he was a starter at Brea-Olinda High School in his native California and played for the USA Basketball Developmental National Team.
"That's definitely been different," Caudill said. "I'm getting used to it and I'm going to go in and give my all every time I get in there no matter what capacity I'm going in as."
Even if he has, like all freshmen, some things to work on, Caudill has experience playing with some of the best on some of his sport's biggest stages. Growing up in Brea, Calif., which is 30 minutes south of Los Angeles "without traffic," Caudill lived and breathed basketball after his fateful introduction to it.
"The LA area, I think, plays the best basketball in the nation," he explained. "I know there will be some people who disagree with me but great players have come out of there the last few years."
During his time with the USA U16 and U17 teams, he played with Kentucky's Marquis Teague, North Carolina's James McAdoo and Connecticut's Andre Drummond. Playing with them helped to elevate his game, but the highlight of his time with these teams came in 2010.
In a three-on-three tournament at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, he played with Michigan State's Brandan Kearney, Arizona's Angelo Chol and Texas's Sterling Gibbs. Basketball's global reach was what really stood out to Caudill about this "out of this world" experience.
"It's amazing how much admiration the sport has globally," he said. "Basketball was the most-attended most-watched event out of everything there, so that was pretty cool."
Introspective and soft-spoken, Caudill is no stranger to making such insightful connections. A finance and political science double major, he hopes to one day go to law school and follow his dream of going into politics.
"I'd eventually like to get involved in politics in some capacity after my basketball days are over," he noted. "I'm kind of drawn to it because leadership appeals to me."
As for now, this gentle giant who relies online sites to find shoes that fit his size-17 feet, is focused on basketball. As he learns Donahue's offense and gets better at pulling down rebounds, finding the open man and scoring down low, he's convinced he will make a greater impact.
But, more importantly, he knows that this young and inexperienced team will grow into something great in the years to come.
"Everyone's learning at the same pace and we're all going to get indoctrinated into this thing together," Caudill said. "Once we get that experience and get to the point where we can really close out games, we're going to be fine and we're going to be a good team in the ACC."
Written by Jen Dobias