Stanton Kidd is seasoned well beyond his age of 22.
The senior forward on the Colorado State men’s basketball team is well traveled, having attended three different colleges over the past four years. Those opportunities have helped Kidd grow, but he will always be a product of where he was raised, in Edmondson Village on Baltimore’s west side.
“Just as rough as any neighborhood in Baltimore City,” Kidd said. “I never had any trouble. Basketball always kept me away from the stuff that’s around the neighborhood.”
Of course, Baltimore is known for producing a gritty breed of hoopers. The hard-nosed style became so ingrained in Kidd’s game that it actually held him back at times in junior college.
“We couldn’t run the offense Carolina Break because I couldn’t … well, I could shoot threes, but I wouldn’t take them,” he explained. “I was more of a driver. I just didn’t like taking them. I was more about getting to the basket or get fouled, like I did against San Diego State.”
Kidd went 8-for-10 from the line January 24 against the Aztecs. He attacked the basket and lived at the line in the second half, a mentality developed at parks in Baltimore such as the Dome, a concrete court where the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay still go to play.
Games at the Dome can draw upwards of a thousand spectators. It is where Kidd said he proved a lot; not just to others, but to himself.
“People start to recognize you, they come up and shake your hand,” Kidd said. “That’s when you know.”
There are no cameras or NBA scouts watching, yet the intensity never wanes. Playing there was the true test for Kidd and many other players in the area.
The Dome and the other parks in Baltimore are where Kidd developed his toughness, but the physicality of basketball in the city is not limited to the pickup games.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder said the most physical game he ever played was when he led Edmondson Westside High School past Josh Selby’s Lake Clifton team in the Baltimore City Division I Championship.
Kidd averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as he led the Red Storm to their first Baltimore City Division I championship during his senior season. He garnered some Division I interest, but not to the same extent as other big name players from the city such as Selby, Roscoe Smith and C.J. Fair.
The offers he did get never came to fruition either. Kidd is a bright basketball mind and a reflective individual, as evidenced by his honest post-game evaluations of his own performances. But, that did not equate to solid test scores.
“I started getting some looks but the grade thing wasn’t always good,” he said. “I wasn’t a bad student. Just schools in Baltimore … you don’t get the prep classes. You need to take a certain amount of AP classes to play Division I.”
He came up short of the required SAT score required to play, as well.
His father Stanley, who played at Morgan State, recommended that Stanton take the junior college route. Stanton was hesitant, but trusted his father, the same man who initially guided him to the sport when he was six years old.
Kidd landed at South Plains College, one of the premier junior colleges in the country.
After leading the team in rebounding as a freshman, he helped deliver the Texans to a perfect 36-0 record and a 2011-12 National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship in his second year. He was one of a handful of players from that South Plains team who would go on to play at the Division I level.
Amongst those teammates was the polarizing Marshall Henderson. Stanton related to the former Ole Miss star in the sense that their fathers, both former college players, were their biggest critics.
“On Thanksgiving, Marshall couldn’t leave the gym until he made 1,000 shots,” Stanton recalled.
Stanton did not have it much easier.
“My dad would not come to my high school games to see me score 30,” Kidd said. “He would come to see what my weaknesses were. Then we would work on them right after. Right back to the gym.”
After graduating with honors from South Plains, Stanton got his shot at Division I basketball. He spent a year playing for North Carolina Central University where he averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
It drew the attention from other programs including Towson, which is not far from Kidd’s home in Maryland.
Kidd wanted a new experience though. He had spent enough time in the noisy and fast-paced Baltimore. After seeing the wide open plains in Texas, to the city of Durham, Kidd wanted to continue his new experiences.
Familiar with CSU head coach Larry Eustachy’s resume, Stanton decided to continue his career in Fort Collins.
Of course, he had to sit out a year due to transfer regulations. Eustachy talked Kidd up to the media during his redshirt year. But Kidd suffered a stress fracture in his left shin.
He came into his senior season with a metal rod in his leg and perhaps unfairly lofty expectations to be a big-time contributor on a contender in the Mountain West.
Kidd is second on the team in scoring (11.7 points per game) and is shooting 44 percent from downtown. Eustachy has come to depend on him as much as any other player, and Kidd has come through for the Rams with big shots, such as his corner three at the first half buzzer during to their 18-point comeback win over UNLV.
“Last year sitting out, we knew that with the guys we had, we were going to be a special group,” junior forward Tiel Daniels said. “Me, Stanton and Little John (Gillon) – we were the redshirts. So we spent a lot of time in the weight room, and we had the same goal: win the Mountain West and get in the tournament.”
CSU is two games back in the MW and is a 10th seed in the latest NCAA Tournament projections. The plans Stanton made with Daniels last year are still within reach. For Kidd, it will be his only chance.
With just one year of eligibility at Colorado State, there was no room for a slow start and no chance to ease into things.
Eustachy said that the situation would have been too much for a lot of guys to handle. But for Kidd, it was never really a problem.
“He’s probably come in with the most difficult situation because of expectations on him,” Eustachy said. “But I think the biggest expectations are put on him by himself. I think he has a personality that relishes the pressure, that relishes the expectations.”
When you grow up competing with the likes of Will Barton, while your father compares you to videos of the great Reggie Lewis, it is all par for the course.
Coming from where Stanton has – coming from Edmondson Village – the expectations are nothing new.
Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.