Senior celebrates Senior Night from the bleachers


Senior Drew Kitchens protects the ball in a game against Cal State L.A. last season. Photo credit: Caio Calado

Having your name called, followed by a standing ovation and being surrounded by your fellow seniors is the reason athletes dream of Senior Night.

As senior guard Drew Kitchens watched his teammates celebrate with their families from a seat on the bleachers, he realized it would only remain a dream for him.

“You dream about that night. I wanted to walk with them and be with the guys I had played the last four years with,” Kitchens said.

Due to a conflict with his grades, he was unable to walk with his former teammates. He was not allowed to participate in the event and said that he felt this was the biggest punishment of his life.

Although Kitchens had found success early in his final year of basketball, a failed test would result in his ineligibility. The loss damaged the team, but had a more profound effect on Kitchens as he was forced to abstain from play and watch his final year of basketball slip away.

Kitchens played a total of 400 minutes for the ‘Cats this season and started 17 games. He was a key scorer beyond the 3-point line and proved to be a driving factor for the team.

“It was really hard for me,” Kitchens said. “You have to envision that senior year is the pinnacle.”

Senior Drew Kitchens plays against Cal State L.A. in a game last season. Photo credit: Caio Calado


Despite being unable to play and having his scholarship taken away as part of the reprimand, Kitchens attended every basketball practice and refused to miss a home game.

Kitchens proved himself to be a leader on and off the court, but he could only help so much. The Wildcats’ season came to an end with one of the longest losing streaks they had that season. Sophomore guard Jalen McFerren said he believes Kitchens would have been invaluable, especially in the postseason.

“We lost a leader and someone who was experienced,” McFerren said. “We missed him and needed him to keep us composed.”

Experience in the postseason was a key element that the ‘Cats lacked, as they consisted of just four other upperclassmen. Head coach Greg Clink said he felt they had lost a major factor in their game.

“He was a good leader, and he brought a ton of experience to the big games,” Clink said. “I think those are the things we lost the most.”

The lack of play during his final year hurt Kitchens, and attending practices he could not participate in only made it more difficult. However, being the heart of the team, his leadership and support was a key factor in the team’s success this season.

“I view it as a disappointment,” Kitchens said. “I let everyone down, but it’s something that I’ll take as a learning experience.”

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.