A Basketball Bond Between Brothers
WyKevin Bazemore Inspires Brother, Kent
"He inspires me...He's playing the best basketball he's ever played. He's taught me how to persevere." When asked about his brother, WyKevin, Kent Bazemore smiles and looks off, praising his brother's tenacity. Kent credits WyKevin for being a large part of his support system, helping him get through the highs and lows that can come with an NBA season. Log onto twitter.com and you'll find one of the biggest Kent Bazemore fans there is. The only difference with this fan is he grew up with the Atlanta Hawks' young starting guard/small forward. WyKevin is four years younger than Kent (making him 22 years old), he said he and his brother would play basketball and football in the backyard growing up. "My mom played basketball, my dad played basketball and two of my uncles were really good at basketball...so that's how [Kent and I chose to play]."
Both brothers grew up playing a little bit of every sport, Kent running track, playing football and basketball, WyKevin being especially talented at football saying he "was actually a better football player" until he broke his shoulder in the 7th grade and had to give up the sport. If you watch video of WyKevin, who is currently a professional basketball player in León, Spain, you'll see similarities in how he and Kent play, defensively speaking. Their hustle on defense is the type of energy any coach would love to have on a team. Kent continuously admires his brother’s athleticism, “People say I play hard but he takes that to a whole new level so that’s some of the things I take from him. Growing up, he would always play with my friends, even though he was a youngin, he would never back down. He’s much more aggressive than I am in that aspect.” WyKevin also plays as an undersized small forward, adding that the play in Spain is more physical. As similar as they may appear to play, WyKevin does say that his brother has the edge on him in versatility, "[Kent] can play all guard positions, he can play point guard, shooting guard, small forward...and I'm pretty much between the 2 and 3." Who would win in a game of 1-on-1? The brothers agree that Kent would take home the prize, but Kent insists "it wouldn’t be easy.” Kent explains that “It’s tough to score on him or keep him in front of you because he plays so physical. He can jump, too. He’ll dunk on you quick.”
Having an older brother in the NBA has many benefits, especially when you play the sport yourself and pursue playing it professionally. When WyKevin visited Kent during the holiday season, he was able to work out with him, and Kent told him the ins and outs of the sport, showed him a couple of moves, and WyKevin was even able to check out how Al Horford and Thabo Sefolosha put in work in the gym. "That's one thing I did when my brother was with Golden State, too, just watched the players work out. I learned a lot from just watching the players."
WyKevin, a 2015 graduate of Winston-Salem State University, has been creating quite the reputation for himself. He was named the Global MVP of the EBA league - 2015 Leon, led Winston-Salem in rebounds for (three) straight seasons, ranked second in the CIAA in rebounding from 2012-13, was named to the All-CIAA team for two straight seasons, was the 2011-12 leading rebounder in the CIAA, was the 2012 CIAA rookie of the year, was named the conference player of the year, and was the North Carolina Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Games pick in high school, just to name a few accolades. Playing in an international league presents some obstacles, such as a language barrier (WyKevin doesn't speak Spanish) and the distance from loved ones and familiarity.
Distance doesn't impede the Baze brothers from critiquing each other's games, however. WyKevin readily admits, ”We both watch each other's games, criticize each other a lot. We're basically each other's biggest critics. He'll let me know what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong."
Kent knows that his brother’s hard work is paying off, “He’ll send me highlights. His team will tweet out stuff, keep me posted. He’s playing…[Kent rattles off WyKevin’s stats] it’s crazy numbers. I don’t care where you’re playing at, that’s impressive. And I’m so proud. That’s my guy.“ WyKevin currently leads the EBA averaging 23.4 points-per-game.
WyKevin openly praises, and constructively criticizes, his brother's performance on the court using social media. While it's sometimes expected and encouraged to be critiqued by family, the fans can be a little harsh. Kent needs no updates on what those watching him have to say, he sometimes sees it on his own. WyKevin advises him to channel the negativity he sees and use it as motivation to "play better."
The #BazeBros are always looking out for one another. Whether it's at a game or on Twitter or Snapchat, Kent doesn't have to look far to find the positive reinforcement he might sometimes need. He has it right where he's always had it, with his family.