Milwaukee Warriors: Milwaukee natives Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole help Golden State return to NBA Finals
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - The Milwaukee Bucks may not be in the NBA Finals, but Milwaukee will still be represented when the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics.
Milwaukee's very own Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole play for the Warriors. Poole played at Rufus King and Looney starred at Alexander Hamilton.
"Everybody liked Kevon when he was at Hamilton. Everybody. That's because he was so genuine and so sincere and so humble," said Tom Diener, who coached Looney for three years at Hamilton.
"Everyone who went to Rufus King knows Jordan Poole now. And they're proud to say they went to King too," said Jim Gosz, who coached Poole for three years at King.
Looney was a McDonald's All American and Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year after nearly averaging a quadruple double his senior year with 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 8.0 blocks, 7.0 assists per game. He then went on to UCLA. After one season, he declared for the draft and was picked by the Golden State Warriors with the 30th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
The 26-year old has spent all seven years of his NBA career with Golden State. He battled injuries early in his career, but this season was one of only five players in the league to play in all 82 games this season.
"His best basketball is still ahead of him," said Diener. "I mean his off-ball offense, the way he sets screens and does those things is just phenomenal."
Diener credits the Warriors patience with Kevon as he dealt with issues with his hips early in his career.
"They saw his upside. They saw what he could be," said Diener. "And now boy he's such a great player."
Diener first saw Kevon as an eighth grader and says he stuck out because of his size. He says he saw his potential from how he played on the court and how he treated people.
During the Warriors' playoff run, Looney grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds in a 110-96 Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies to clinch the Western Conference semifinals. Looney scored 20 points in an NBA game for the first time when he finished with a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in a 126-117 Game 2 win over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors crowd gave him 'MVP' chants.
"Well they love him because they know what kind of character he has. You can just sense from watching Kevon what kind of person he is. He's really unselfish. Really just wants to win," said Diener.
Poole played his first three high school seasons at Rufus King before finishing his high school career at La Lumiere in Indiana. Then he played two seasons at Michigan before becoming the 29th overall pick by the Warriors.
While Looney experienced an NBA record setting 73-win season and two championships, the Warriors won just 15 games in Poole's first season. He went back and forth to the G-League before starting in 51 games this season.
Poole averaged 18 points a game on 45% shooting from the field, 36% from the 3-point range and an NBA best 92% from the free throw line. In his first playoffs, he's averaging 18 points a game on 53% shooting from the field and 39% from 3-point range.
"He's a magician," said Gosz.
In Poole's first playoff game against the Denver Nuggets, he scored 30 points. He's reached 20 or more points six times in the playoffs and has scored in double figures in 14 of the 16 playoff games.
"He's maximized this year, even last year, every opportunity," said Gosz. "Sky is the limit for him now."
Gosz says Poole was always one of the smaller kids on the court when he was younger but as he grew he could see his NBA potential because of everything he brought to the table.
"I think his passing is incredible. His basketball IQ, you can't measure that," said Gosz. "The talent and skill level he has to shoot a basketball is as good as I've seen at any level."
The Warriors and the Celtics will play a best-of-seven series for the Larry O'Brien trophy.
"Well I know I'm not going to miss any games. And number two I'm going to try to get to one of the games," said Gosz. " You want nothing but the best for the kid. He deserves it. He really does."
"Pretty amazing. Just really exciting and a lot of fun to watch," said Diener.
The NBA Finals begin Thursday, June 2nd.