Freshman from Kentucky compared to fellow Akron native LeBron James

With Akron, Ohio, as his hometown, Kentucky freshman Chris Livingston draws comparisons to basketball…you know who.

“LeBron has been a mentor and really a role model since I was a kid,” Livingston said Friday.

Of course, the reference is to future Hall of Famer LeBron James, whose name comes up in many discussions about identifying the greatest basketball player of all time.

When Livingston spoke of James as a mentor, he meant that on a personal level.

“The role model aspect took him to the next step,” he said. “Because we have a personal relationship now. He has been huge in my life and I really appreciate him.

Reinforcing the idea of ​​a close relationship Livingston-James is the first British student to have a role in the upcoming NBA All-Star film called ‘Shooting Stars’. Livingston plays a player from a rival school (Buchtel High School, which the British player actually attended). James attended St. Vincent-St. Married. The Universal Studios-produced film has been in the works since 2018 and is slated for release next year.

Juwan Howard’s son Jett plays a young Carmelo Anthony. James is played by Marquis “Mookie” Cook, a five-star prospect in the high school class of 2023.

When playfully asked if his character outperformed James’ character in the film, Livingston replied, “I really do.”

The obvious follow-up question was what it felt like to top Nickname James.

“You know, it’s great to be a part of something like this,” Livingston said.

Livingston, who had no acting experience, has a few lines of dialogue. But he said he shouldn’t reveal his lines.

Livingston, who was listed at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, cited two other players when asked which players he could be compared to.

“A lot of people say Jaylen Brown or Paul George…” he said of the Boston Celtics star and seven-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Clippers. “Skillful wingers, who play hard, who play on both sides of the ball.”

George is the reason he wears No. 24, Livingston said. “He’s a player I’ve admired since I was little.”

Playing for a top program like Kentucky‘s, Livingston knows he could be the “shooting star” future players will try to emulate.

“It’s unbelievable…”, he said. “I’m honored to say that I’m a very high profile guy coming out of high school. It has always been a blessing to play the sport you love and it has always been an inspiration without even knowing it. … You truly represent something bigger than yourself. And that’s why I’m really happy to be part of Kentucky.

Livingston’s twin brother, Cordell, will be on the Kentucky State team. It is due to arrive July 1. “We are as close as you can imagine,” he said.

Cordell’s height is listed at 6 feet. While Livingston played at Oak Hill Academy last season (18.2 points and 9.1 rebounds), Cordell didn’t play much.

Retired Oak Hill coach Steve Smith of Kentucky said rival scouts courted the twins as part of a package deal. But Cordell did not visit the UK with Chris.

Livingston, who averaged 31.1 points and 15.8 rebounds as a junior for Buchtel High School, said Oak Hill gave him a taste of the increased importance of strength and conditioning for a basketball player. This adds up to tougher competition.

“Having more practices per day, not just skills work but as a team, really prepared me for Kentucky,” he said.

Livingston said he could play small forward or fullback. He said he handled the ball more at Oak Hill than he expected for Kentucky.

“Not so much on the ball,” he said of the role he expects for the UK, “because we have a lot of guards.”

In those early practices, he faced players such as Jacob Toppin and traded Antonio Reeves, Livingston said. He welcomed the idea of ​​being portrayed as a physical player. He said that description matched fellow freshman Cason Wallace.

“Oh yeah, definitely, definitely,” he said. “I don’t think it will ever go away. …especially with me and Cason having already developed male bodies.

Jerry Tipton has covered Kentucky basketball from the 1981-82 season until today. He is a member of the Basketball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame.
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