After South Carolina beat Baylor to advance to the Elite Eight last Friday, Max Bonnstetter asked Frank Martin, whose Gamecocks had just limited the Bears to 50 points, whether he values technique or attitude when it comes to defense.
Martin, 51, told Bonnstetter it was a “heck of a question,” one that he hasn’t been asked during his entire coaching career. Martin answered attitude, but that isn’t what made this exchange memorable.
Instead, it was the fact that Max Bonnstetter is 13 years old. He is covering the NCAA Tournament for Sports Illustrated Kids.
“It’s been a incredible experience,” Bonnstetter said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I’ve had so much fun talking to Coach Martin and all the South Carolina players. They’ve been really, really nice to me, and it’s just been so much fun.”
The tournament has given Bonnstetter keen insight into life as a reporter. He gets to be around famous coaches and athletes, yes, but he’s also subjected to criticism from others, including members of the media. Yes, some journalists were on deadline and felt that having a “kid” journalist in the room was a waste of time.
Bonnstetter, though, has taken it all in stride.
“It’s been a little bit crazy,” he said. “There’s been some other reporters who disagree with what I’m doing, but I let the negativity fuel me and it makes me feel better. . . . I have a lot of respect for (those journalists). I just feel like they ask questions so that they can write their articles, and I have to do my job, too. I have to ask questions so I can write my article, and in my instance, those questions for Frank Martin and KeVaughn Allen on Florida were what was going to help me write my article.”
Bonnstetter asked Allen, who is from Arkansas, about his mom being present for the game.
“She traveled all the way to New York City, and I asked him if his mom had an influence on his big night,” Bonnstetter said, referring to Allen’s 35-point night. “He gave me a really good answer. I thought it was a good question, but I guess that some other reporters thought that it was off-topic. . . . But I have respect for them, and I can understand where they’re coming from.”