Kevin Durant probably wouldn't mind hollering at Nike or Rocawear one day about becoming a pitchman, but as of right now, the only companies the 6-9 sensation screams praises for are Skippy and Smuckers. "I eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,â€ says the player that's currently stacked somewhere between Greg Oden and Taddious Young in the 2006 top prospect rankings. "I eat that everyday. That's my favorite. I put a lot of peanut butter on them!â€
So, the secret's out: Fill up on the lunchtime staple and your basketball skills go through the roof. Yeah, but it helps matters that Durant's as long as the Toys â€˜R' Us line for the Xbox 360 and he has the versatility of a Hummer H3. Still, the PB&J has its place. "One of the things that our strength coach recommends,â€ adds Stu Vetter, head coach at Durant's new hoops home, Montrose Christian Academy, "is that when Kevin is finished lifting [weights] that he eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because that helps you gain weight and strength. He's going to get a lot of peanut butter and jelly at Montrose.â€ Atkins, eat your heart out.
Another thing the 17-year-old phenom out of Suitland, MD, had best learn to swallow is all the media attention. Durant, who starred at National Christian (MD) and Oak Hill the three years prior, has landed at another powerhouse for his senior year. SLAM readers should be familiar with Montrose. In a recent issue, Asian imports Taishi Ito and K.J. Matsui were spotlighted. Ito is still there, causing headaches in the backcourt. So are Greivis Vasquez and Adrian Bowie, two others who'll soon be stirring havoc in the NCAA. "We're used to high expectations,â€ insists Coach Vetter, who's had a team nationally ranked every year the USA Today poll has come out. "Kevin will simply blend in with these players. We have another three or four D1 players that I didn't mention.â€
But for some reason, coach can't stop talking about Kevin Durant. Hell, nobody can. Already a top 10 prospect after a regular season where he averaged nearly 20 and nine, the lanky superstar took his game to heights the Space Shuttle Discovery couldn't when all the summer camps tipped off. Whether it was earning camp MVP honors in Richmond versus O.J. Mayo or out in the Las Vegas heat against Oden, people were talking about this Garnett-in-training. Loudly. So feverish was the word on KD's very consistent outside shot (he was 42% beyond the arc last season) and smooth basket-facing moves, that many who listed Oden as the top rising senior wondered if they needed a 1-B for Kevin.
The newfound attention "feels good, man,â€ the future Texas Longhorn admits. "I feel like the hard work paid off. I'm glad other people think I'm the No. 1 player, but right now, I just got to work hard and get ready for that next level. I'm glad people think I'm the No. 1 player, but it really doesn't matter to me.â€
No joke. It really doesn't bother him. Nothing much does. The super-quick Durant doesn't seem fazed by the new NBA ruling on draft eligibility ("I'm kind of glad I'm going to collegeâ€) or moving around so much ("I'm glad I made the moveâ€). Just 17 and the kid's unflappable.
That is, until the lone drawback of Kevin's game is brought up. Physically, Durant isn't the biggest fella you've ever seen in the paint. He could use an additional 20 around the upper body, and Kevin knows it. "I've been in the weight room every day since I got back from Vegas,â€ tells Durant. "I'm probably about 205 right now. By the beginning of the season, I should be at my ideal weight.â€
And if that regime doesn't work, a feast on the upcoming competition and a few more of those loaded peanut butter and jelly sandwiches should do the trick.