If you're curious as to who can be a really good face for college basketball next season, the sport could do much worse than Wichita State junior point guard Fred VanVleet. VanVleet had a breakout year in 2013-14, running the show for the undefeated Shockers and helping the team to a No. 1 seed.
He'll be a preseason All-American come the fall, whether that's of the first- or second-team variety.
And recently, VanVleet showed why he's such an asset to so many communities: his rock-solid maturity. On May 29 VanVleet spoke to the seniors at his former high school in Rockford, Ill., and delivered a strong message about personal accountability and sacrificing now for rewards later.
"I don't really feel qualified to be here right now," Fred VanVleet said to a room full of Auburn High graduates, but that turned out to be false.
Watch the speech above. It's not that long, but it's pretty damn good for someone with two years of college left in him (if he chooses to not test the NBA waters after next season, that is).
"It's going to be a lot harder than graduating high school was," VanVleet said. "It's going to be on you. It's going to take a lot of responsibility.
"That fun that you're having right now doesn't compare to the things you'll be able to do with your life if you just take some time out to get your priorities straight."
“He loves where he's from,” said Katie Wishowski-Wetzel, Auburn vice principal. “The kids like him and they relate to him on several levels. It's nice to have someone come back and relate to kids about athletics and working hard.”
Rockford, Illinois, is a hardscrabble town that's been faced with crime, poverty and a lot of the pitfalls facing so many American neighborhoods. It's not an easy place to grow up, but VanVleet seems set on representing his city well -- and improving it as he ages. Here's what he tweeted out a few days before delivering his speech to nearly 350 Auburn High grads.
You living life for urself or 4 others..how many lives are you bettering. ..use the influence if you have it. If not. Support some1 who does— Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) May 24, 2014
Imma change my city— Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) May 24, 2014
(H/T, Jason King)