2014 Final Four Day 1 Wrap-Up: McDermotts, Ladders, and Skill Contests!

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I knew that covering the Final Four was going to be great.  But I didn’t think it would be this good. I’ve only been at AT&T Stadium one day, and already a lot of cool things happened!

The games aren’t played until Saturday, but things got into full swing on Thursday with some press conferences. Coaches John Calipari of Kentucky and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin spoke together, then came a player from each team, then coaches Billy Donovan of Florida and Kevin Ollie of Connecticut. I’ve seen things like this on TV before, so it was neat being there in person.

After the press conferences, I got to talk to AP College Basketball Player of the Year Doug McDermott and his dad, Greg. (Watch my interview here!) And I got to climb the official ladder that will be used to cut down the championship nets on Monday night. It is a nine-foot ladder specially made for this event. Actually, there are two ladders. The winning school will get to keep one and the other will be auctioned off for charity.

All day, I had been waiting to go on the court. I couldn’t because teams were using it. Then I heard over a security guard’s walkie-talkie that the court was now open, and I got there as fast as I could! Being on the court, it felt sort of small. I think it was because I was in the middle of that huge football stadium. A cool thing about being on the court is looking out at all the seats and being under the gigantic TV screen. When I stood at the free throw line, I felt like I could dunk. While I was on the court, officials were practicing setting up the stage for the championship ceremony Monday night. A few hours later, I got to take a picture with the trophy that will be given away at that ceremony!

My last stop on Thursday was the College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championship. I got excited just walking in, and I knew it was going to be a blast! Brady Heslip of Baylor won the men’s 3-point contest and Shoni Schimmel of Louisville won the women’s. Then those two faced off to see who would be the overall winner. Shoni made her last eight shots to win it! The dunk competition was really exciting – better than the NBA dunk contest at the All-Star Game. The winner was Marcus Lewis of Eastern Kentucky. He got a very cool wresting-style championship belt, and I got to interview him on the court.

What an awesome day. And the best part is that it was only day one!

kid reporter jake aron final four 2014
kid reporter jake aron final four 2014