Hail to the king, baby.
Kayvon Thibodeaux has entered his castle.
Thibodeaux waltzes through the front doors of the gymnasium lugging a paper bag from Jack in the Box. He takes a sip of his soda and floats to his standing-room-only throne along the front row, right on the baseline.
The unofficial mascot of the Oaks Christian High boys’ basketball team is donning the jersey of senior star Jordan Jones. It’s a little tight.
“He makes my jersey look like a baby tee,” Jones said.
Thibodeaux, the best junior football player in the United States according to ESPN, makes Kevin “Boy Xena” Sorbo look like anorexic Skeletor. The young man who could tear down the Great Wall of China by blowing it a kiss is the Lions’ loudest and most intimidating cheerleader.
Duke’s Cameron Crazies turn to wallflowers in the Lion’s presence. Hoosiers take up croquet. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end will squish any challenger, from Thousand Oaks’ Green Hole to Simi Valley’s Maroon Mob, into a Babybjörn and give them a taste of what the king’s cooking, one prune pudding spoonful at a time.
“Having him there is awesome,” junior guard Max Harris said. “He’s a big guy, he’s really loud. He helps us, too, on the court with his energy. He gets into other players’ heads. He’s a pretty intimidating person.”
Thibodeaux is human performance art worth 2½ points, minimum, on the point spread for games he attends.
Clipper Darrell is amateur hour.
K.T. is the real deal.
For Oaks Christian’s senior night on Feb. 6, Thibodeaux put on an exhibition of spontaneous brilliance, showcasing his irrepressibly hilarious, delirious, mesmerizing and creative charm.
Jones drained a 3-point rainbow, Thibodeaux drew a bow and fired an arrow to the rafters before pointing to his right bicep muscle while glaring menacingly at the Green Hole. In that moment, the last four specimens of the Green Hole shriveled into premature extinction.
“I got a passion for basketball,” Thibodeaux said. “I love the atmosphere of crazy games. That’s what you look for.”
After the Lions’ road win at Westlake on Feb. 8, one Westlake couple approached Thibodeaux and complained that he was being “too tough” on the Warrior players.
“I didn’t even know what to say,” Thibodeaux said. “Can you please tell them I’m a minor. I’m there for the team.”
His legend grew at Calabasas.
“He was pretty much our only guy at Calabasas,” Jones said, “and he was louder than their entire student section.”
“He was so loud in that game that the Calabasas fans were complaining about him,” Harris said.
A referee threw Thibodeaux out of a home game against Newbury Park . . . in the first quarter . . . for cheering.
“He did nothing except for being loud. The ref knew who he was and formed a bad opinion,” Jones said. “It was ridiculous.”
“He must have been having a bad day or something,” Thibodeaux said of the humorless ref.
Oaks Christian’s students chanted “Free K.T.! Free K.T.!” the rest of the night.
The junior, who racked up 20 sacks and helped Oaks Christian’s football team capture a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship in the fall, played basketball as a freshman at Dorsey. He plans to sprint for the track and field team in the spring.
Although he doesn’t play organized hoops anymore, he’s the most enthusiastic fan for the team, which includes his friends Jones, Harris and Jericho Parker.
“If you get to know him, he’s the nicest kid,” Harris said of Thibodeaux. “He doesn’t let all the attention he gets get to his head. For his age, he’s very mature.”
He has helped make basketball 10,467-times more fun in Acorn country.
“A lot of my friends, they know the players in the area,” Thibodeaux said. “We try to get in their heads and mess them up, stuff like that. . . . Having played basketball, I know how much a crowd can impact players’ free throws or mental states.”
In the middle of an interview with the Acorn, a classmate asked Thibodeaux if he planned to attend Oaks Christian’s Division 2A playoff opener against St. Joseph on Wednesday.
“Of course I’m going to be at the game,” Thibodeaux said incredulously.
Who else can conduct two interviews at once but the king?
Email sports editor Eliav Appelbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.