The Gentle Giant
June 7, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Towering over most people in the gym, standing at 6-11 and weighing in at 279 pounds, K.C. Caudill, who also wears a size 18 shoe, can be an imposing force under the basket. Born and raised in Southern California, Caudill has used his size to his advantage and grown into one of the top players in the nation. He averaged 16.3 ppg., 12.0 rpg. and 2.7 bpg. as a sophomore at Brea Olinda High School, aiding his team to the second round of the 2009 CIF Class 3A Tournament.
His hard work on the court paid off with an invitation to be on the 2009-10 USA Basketball Developmental National Team. As one of only 19 players in the country training this week in Colorado Springs, Colo., he's taking the opportunity to learn from everyone, from the coaching staff to his teammates, to elevate his game.
But take a few moments to sit down with him and you'll soon realize that off the court he's not so imposing. Caudill's a well-rounded individual who respects his family, enjoys reading, is gracious towards his teammates and wants to change the world.
Family, the one thing he can't live without, is very important to Caudill. His support system includes his great uncle Jim James and his grandpa George Caudill, both of whom have been in attendance during each USA training session. In fact, K.C. credits his grandfather as the most impressive person he's ever met. The elder Caudill migrated west from Kentucky. Leaving his home state after high school in '51, he moved to Cleveland for a few years and met his wife, Jackie. After a stint as a teacher in Tennessee, he landed in Southern Cal with a job as a lumber inspector. From there, he started his own lumber business from scratch and is an impressive -self-made man" according to K.C.
Additionally, his favorite memento was a gift from his great-grandmother. She returned from a visit to England with a token from Buckingham Palace and gave it to Caudill about five days before she died. He still has that bookmark. And, considering he brought four books with him on this journey, a bookmark was a great gift for the young Caudill.
With a team-first mentality, Caudill is hopeful that his selection to the 2009-10 USA Basketball Developmental National Team will help elevate his high school squad's stature.
That same team-first concept keeps Caudill from telling us who he thinks the best player he has to face this weekend might be. -I really don't know," he said when asked to divulge the weekend's top talent. -Everybody's got their own strengths and weaknesses."
Caudill is excited about being at the USA training camp, he's learning from great coaches and players, and hopes to have a lengthy career that includes more stints in a USA Basketball uniform.
Once his playing days are behind him, however, Caudill would like to become a lawyer or a politician. Why not go into broadcasting or coaching like many other players? Because, says Caudill, he wants to make the world a better place by making it a safer place to live.
What else is behind Caudill's imposing faĆ§ade? USA Basketball has the scoop for you below!
What has your experience at training camp been like so far?
It's been tough, but it's been fun too. I know it's making me a better player, as hard as we're going and as intense as we're playing.
When you arrived here and saw all the other athletes here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, what were your thoughts?
It was very eye-opening because I knew I had to step my game up. This is like a few steps away from the Olympics.
During the orientation you saw a highlight video that showed both the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and the '92 Dream Team. What did that mean for you?
I realized that someday I want to be on that level and hopefully be on a Dream Team with these guys that I'm playing with now, playing (with them) in the 2016 Olympics or whenever.
What were your thoughts when you opened the letter of invitation from USA Basketball?
I was excited, I really was. I didn't expect it at all. So it was really exciting for me and made me want to work harder before I came here to get into shape.
What did you do to get in shape?
I did strength and conditioning for at least two-and-a-half hours every day. Then I went into the gym and shot and did more conditioning for two hours after that.
What's been the best part of the training camp so far?
Getting to play against this competition, no doubt. Really just getting to push myself against the best competition in the nation, it'll definitely make me a better player at every level from here on out.
How do you feel about the coaching staff?
I love them. They're great. I'm learning a lot so far.
Where does this rank among your accomplishments in your young career?
No. 1. Maybe tied for No. 1. We won nationals in AAU a few years back, but this is just amazing.
Another Brea Olinda High School player, Justine Hartman, was out here last week and was named to the USA U16 National Team. Did you talk about that at all?
A little bit, yeah. We text every now and then.
Did you congratulate her when she was named to the team?
Yeah, I did.
What would it mean for your school if both of you were competing for a gold medal this summer?
It would be amazing. I think it would really put us on the map. Well, the girls team is already on the map, but I think it would put the boys team on the map, too.
Has the altitude (6,200') been a factor for you at all?
Oh my gosh yeah. I get drained in the first half of practice. Usually I don't really get that tired, but it's been tough playing up here.
I know you're interested in going to law school. What are you looking to do after that?
Either getting into criminal law, actual prosecuting and litigation, or using it as a stepping stone for getting into politics.
What interests you about both sides of that?
Just the chance they have to make a difference in the world - putting criminals in jail and what not.
And on the politics side?
Basically being able to work to make the laws for the country and hopefully make it a better place.
Why is your grandfather, George Caudill, the most impressive person you've ever met?
He's actually here today with my great-uncle. The fact that he came from basically nothing in the hills of Kentucky, to owning his own lumber business and basically being able to retire really young. And because of the fact that he didn't have anything and got to where he is now.
Do you read a lot?
I do. Actually I brought four books with me. I brought a psychology book, which is another thing I'm interested in, a couple (John) Grisham novels and one that my sister recommended to me.
What did your sister recommend?
I can't remember the title, but it takes place during World War II and there was rationing. There is a military officer who sends two criminals out and tells them they could be pardoned if they steal a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding. But there's no eggs in the city, so that should be pretty interesting. I haven't started that one yet. (NOTE: the book is City of Thieves by David Benioff)
Usually Grisham or stuff like that.