Exclusive Q&A: Clark Kellogg talks college hoops

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Clark Kellogg was touring on behalf of the Capital One Cup and he sat with AOL Sports to discuss the fun initiative and some other topics surrounding college basketball.

In its sixth year, the Cup is awarded annually to each of the best men's and women's Division I college athletics programs in the country, with Capital One giving a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and the Capital One Cup trophy to the winning schools in July.

Fans can find out more at www.capitalonecup.com or follow the program on Twitter @CapitalOneCup. Along with Clark, Capital One Cup ambassadors include Candice Parker, Rece Davis, Doug Flutie and Dave Winfield.

Q: Capital One has awarded student-athletes over $2 million. As someone who raised two children to play sports, what kind of advice would you give student-athletes today?

A: You want to have a great experience. Capital One has been great at empowering student-athletes through education over the last five years. To me, it's the best comprehensive award across the sports landscape. As I get a chance to speak to athletes, I talk about the experience they'll gain through sports, but also the education that will impact their lives long after they're done playing whatever sport they're playing. When you can empower student-athletes, it's an investment that's well worth it.

Q: How did you get involved with this initiative?

A: They reached out to me, but I've always been passionate about athletics. Basketball has given me more than I can have imagined. Though my NBA career was short-lived, I make a living now talking about it. It's a wonderful opportunity for those who can get into it -- and that's why this is a great partnership for me. I was initially part of an advisory board, but now I'm an ambassador. It combines two things that I love and have been good to me.

Q: One of the most fun parts has to be the bragging rights, correct? Do you ever joke with someone like, say, Rece Davis, who went to Alabama?

A: Without question. The Ohio State University finished third in the Cup, but we knocked the Crimson Tide out of the College Football Playoff last year, so that's clearly part of the fun for us.

Q: For you personally, was being on TV something you always wanted to do for a career? Was the transition easy?

A: Well, the aspiration was to play longer than I did. I played only five years because of knee trouble. I thought I'd play a while and then put to use my marketing degree. But I was only 26. Basketball was what I knew best and thankfully my team, the Pacers, gave me a chance on the radio. It gave me a chance to do things I always enjoyed. Once I got started, I thought it was something that I could excel at -- and here we are, 25-26 years later, and nobody's told me to put the microphone down. So, we're gonna keep going with it (laughs).

Q: Do you think it's better for college basketball to have a lot of parity, rather than a captivating favorite that everybody -- die-hard fan or not -- knows about?

A: It's kind of like dessert. I like all kids. I like cake, pies, ice cream, gelato, cookies. It's much the same with college hoops. I'm not opposed to one or two favorites, and I just as much enjoy when 5-6-7 teams are in it and there is no favorite. I like it all. I don't have a preference. Storylines will emerge as they emerge. It was great to see Kentucky last year -- and I thought they were going to do it -- and that was a great story. I like that. I like the varieties an early season can give us.

Q: Do you have any sleepers or teams that might be flying under the radar?

A: I like to find small teams that could win a game in the tournament. I've begun to count a few. I try not to be influenced by preseason rankings either. I think Cal and Vandy are worth watching and could surprise us. Providence has the best all-around point guard in Kris Dunn, and he's the kind of player that as long as others can do their job, he could elevate the team to much higher ground than originally anticipated. Texas A&M will be productive ... One small-school team to keep an eye on is Vermont. They're good shooters, not super athletic, but could be dangerous as a potential 14-15 seeded if they get in.
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