Missouri Tigers senior Kim English has a smile that can light up a room. He is a media darling and his @Englishscope24 account is a must follow for anyone on Twitter.
But I think much of the attention that Kim attracts - and deservedly so considering the reasons above - went to his head last season.
During his sophomore year, English led Mizzou in scoring, putting in 14 ppg, averaged 3.4 rpg and shot 37% from beyond the arc.
Then the spotlight hit. He was a preseason Wooden Award candidate and on the honorable mention Preseason All Big 12 team and his numbers slipped.
He dropped from 14 ppg to 10. His 3pt% dipped to 36.6% and his rebounding went down to 3.1 rpg. Maybe these aren't dramatic decreases, but from ones sophomore year to junior year, numbers should be going up, not down.
It seemed like Kim felt that he needed to be the leader. It felt like he would take ill-advised shots, because a basket at that moment would excite the crowd. He was influenced too much by what could happen around the court, than what was happening on it.
During the course of last season, I was talking to the Nuggets beat writer for the Denver Post, a Mizzou alumni, and had a wild theory that English's summer workouts at Carmelo Anthony's gym in their hometown of Baltimore did more to harm Kim's game than help it.
I theorized that the attention and exposure to the premier players in the world got English wide-eyed, and inflated his self-worth. He is a humble man, don't get me wrong, but I think his game suffered because of who he was rubbing elbows with. (He attended Melo's wedding).
I think the opposite happened this offseason. After Mizzou was ousted from the NCAA tournament, English declared for the NBA Draft, and subsequently withdrew his name after competing in a pre-draft camp. Later this summer he was a finalist for a spot on Team USA for the World University Games, and ultimately was one of the last cut.
I now have a wild theory that this rejection will benefit English's game. The "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" idea.
Last summer it was Champaign and caviar. This summer, Diet Rite and Cheetos.
English is smart and I think that he understands the difference between this offseason and last. The fact that his teammate Marcus Denmon was selected for Team USA and is now a preseason All Big 12er takes some of the self-induced pressure off Kim to be the leader, and he can revert to sophomore year English, where he didn't expect to the be the star and could play within the flow of the game.
English is a man who rises when people tell him ‘no' and he heard that this summer. Because of that, Mizzou fans will be yelling ‘yes' when Kim has the ball.