Bay hopes work ethic, dedication will earn him playing time
An athlete’s senior year in high school is supposed to be fun. It’s a time for a player to spend one final season with his friends and, for those who are lucky enough, maybe win a state championship. CU freshman Kalvin Bay’s senior year was headed in that direction. Then one incident changed it all.
Bay, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Tempe, Ariz., was playing in the ninth basketball game of the season for Marco de Niza High School, then 7-1, when his prep career ended abruptly. He said he had just fouled out of the game and was walking toward his team’s bench when he noticed a fan yelling at his mom and friend in the stands. When the fan approached the two with an arm raised, Bay immediately headed toward the unruly fan. However, before he could get there, a security guard stopped him.
The drunken fan was kicked out of the game. But unfortunately, the security guard had not stopped Bay soon enough. The Arizona Interscholastic Association has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to coaches and players going into the stands, and Bay was suspended for the remainder of his senior year.
“It was an unfortunate situation, definitely. I felt my mom was threatened, and I felt I needed to do something about it without my father being there,” Bay said. “It was too bad the situation ended (that way), but I feel things happen for a reason.”
Bay said that if he had to do it over again, he would.
“It was my mom, and I only have one,” he said. “I felt she was in danger, and I did what I think most people would do.”
Bay said CU men’s basketball coach Ricardo Patton assured him that the incident would not affect his standing at the university.
“He heard about it, and he helped me and my family by telling us everything was going to be fine,” Bay said. “He said how much he believed in me and what kind of person I am and that I would be here.”
Though his prep career was cut short, Bay remains a tremendously talented basketball player. He was a four-year starter in high school and averaged more than 23 points and seven assists per game his senior year before the incident occurred. Following his junior season, he earned All-State honors after ranking first in the state in assists and third in points per game. He also set an Arizona state record by making 41 consecutive free throws. Bay said he credits his parents for much of his on-court and off-court success.
“They had a huge influence on me. They got me everywhere I needed to go. My dad got my basketball trainer to come work me out every day,” Bay said. “They’re huge influences in my life, and I credit them with everything I’ve done. They’re so important to me.”
Bay is one of eight freshmen on the Buffs’ 2006-07 roster, which is the youngest in the 105-year history of CU men’s basketball. Patton understands that any team that young presents unique challenges.
“We certainly have to have everybody’s full attention every day,” he said. “It doesn’t lend itself to any distractions other than just basketball. There’s a great deal of teaching that has to take place with these young guys to get them caught up with being able to compete at this level.”
Making Patton’s coaching job even more challenging this season is the fact that he will be without senior point guard Marcus Hall for the fall semester because he is academically ineligible. Hall’s absence could open up more playing time to the young point guards on the team, like Bay.
“(Bay is) a tough, hard-nosed and savvy competitor, which is what I saw when I recruited him. (Freshman) Dwight Thorne has had a terrific preseason,” Patton said. “What I like about guys like Thorne and Bay is that they both bring something different to the table. Thorne is more athletic and taller. Kal Bay is a terrific shooter and a great floor general. We need both those guys to be good for us.”
No one knows better than Bay that he could see extended playing time with the loss of Hall.
“I need to be ready to play,” he said. “I think I’m ready to start if that’s necessary, and if not, I need to be ready to come in and play a lot of minutes.”
If Bay’s work ethic is any indication, he will play an integral role in place of the suspended Hall. Bay said he has been at the Coors Events Center as late as 2 or 3 a.m. some nights this semester working on his game.
“Late nights, early mornings – whatever it takes. I’m not the most athletic kid, but I feel like God has blessed me with the ability to play here at the University of Colorado and help this team win ballgames,” Bay said.
Displaying shades of leadership before school even began, Bay encouraged all of his freshman teammates to get to campus early in the summer so they could play and get to know each other’s games.
“We all got to know each other. We got to play with each other and get some chemistry going. We got to lift a little early, condition a little early, and I think we’re ready to play,” he said.
While the freshman feels good about the work the players got in during the summer, he knows he still has plenty to do.
“My weaknesses are mainly my athletic ability,” Bay said, “but I make up for it with my heart, desire and passion to want to play and get better every day.”