Last summer, the United States won the FIBA u19 Basketball World Cup. Unsurprisingly, the roster was loaded with talent. Chet Holmgren, the stick-bug hoops savant who’ll most likely go first overall in this year’s NBA Draft, headed the frontcourt alongside future lottery picks like Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Peyton Watson. In the backcourt, five-star recruit Kennedy Chandler split time with Jaden Ivey and Johnny Davis, who have since emerged as the two best college basketball players in the country. Here was a snapshot of basketball’s future, a Gesamtkunstwerk crafted from the country’s best Zoomer-aged hoops talent. Kenneth Lofton Jr., an unheralded 6’7, 275-pound power forward from mid-major Louisiana Tech, was the team’s leading scorer.
On a purely corporeal level, Lofton is built different. Generally, basketball demands a fairly uniform set of physical parameters—it’s hard to be a successful player without some combination of exceptional height, length, or explosiveness. Conversely, Lofton’s defining quality is his density, an all-encompassing enormity that functions as the foundation of his game. Lofton may not fit within the traditional understanding of athleticism (at any given moment, he’s probably the least-bouncy and most Kirby-shaped player on the court), but he offers a special blend of nimbleness and girth; he's found ways to turn his singular, oddball body into a wonderland.