Former Porter Gaud standout a clutch player for Bucks
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WCIV) -- On Monday night, Porter Gaud grad Khris Middleton and the Bucks fell 111-110 to the Bobcats in Charlotte, but at the end of the game, the Bucks put the ball in the hands of the second-year pro.
One second on the clock, one shot to take, Middleton's team was down three to the Bobcats and the ball was put in the hands of Middleton.
The pride of Porter Gaud, already with 17 points on the night, catches and fires off a perfect shot. For a second, there was ecstasy. Then reality set in.
"I didn't know where I was. It was a good play, obviously, but my foot was on the line. Anybody wants to be in that situation, dreams about it, works for it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," said Middleton.
The story is a familiar one for Milwaukee. They've often toe-ed the line between victory and defeat, but coming up short. The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA currently.
But there's a glimmer of hope for Middleton.
"We're a young team that is learning on the go, a team that's now starting to play together for the first time. There are growing pains, but we're figuring things out right now," he said.
It's also a great opportunity for Middleton to shine with and against the best in the league.
"I still don't feel like a veteran. It's only my second year," he said, but he admits to loving the NBA life.
For Middleton, he's on a new team, in a new role with a new professional life. But the Bucks' head coach is noting his determination.
"From an expectations standpoint, I didn't know what to expect. In Detroit, he didn't get a lot of playing time. I didn't know the player he was, whether he could contribute," said Coach Larry Drew. "Certainly, he has exceeded expectations thus far. He's done a phenomenal job. You can see, the more he plays, the more confident he gets."
And confidence is big when he's playing a different game in a different city every night.
And Milwaukee is a far cry from the Lowcountry, but it's night like Monday that make the grind special.
In the crowd sat a man who knew years before Drew what a special player Middleton is.
"It's hard to believe I coached a kid that's playing with the best in the world. I'm very proud of him. It's unbelievable. His demeanor has not changed, he's more intense; it's a more intense league, but it's the same Khris Middleton. He takes the right shot at the right time, makes the right play at the right time," said Porter Gaud head coach John Pearson.
While Middleton didn't get a Christmas gift in the form of a big three in the last second Monday night, just being able to see their son play live in a nearby city was good enough for his mom and dad.
"It's awesome. He's worked for this his whole life. To see this, to achieve this, it's wonderful. Our daughter is coming in and we'll all be together soon. That doesn't happen very often with Khris in the NBA," said James and Nichelle Middleton.
He left the Arena for a few days away, knowing some shots will go and some don't, but given the opportunity to take the shot, he will never turn it down.
"I'm never going to lose confidence. If I'm open, I'm going to let it go. You have to find your own rhythm sometimes in a game and just be ready when your number is called," Middleton said.
His time is now and the Bucks feel that sticking with Middleton might mean their time is coming soon.