January 2020 concluded what was a whirlwind of basketball events that took place in a little over two months. Most of us know that basketball works on a 12 month cycle which consists of too many tournaments, camps, clinics and games to count. My 2019 -2020 basketball season kicked off in October at USA Basketball Mini-Camp in Colorado Springs. From there, I attended several pre-season preview camps around the southeast. I then transitioned into visiting several D basketball practices including trips to Auburn and Athens where I saw two potential lottery picks. After that, I shifted right into a gurgling series of High School and College tournaments that took me from Atlanta, to Cancun, Florida 2x, to South Carolina, Atlanta for several more events and concluded the first week in January in Memphis.
While I had a blast at every event I attended, my stop in Memphis at the ARS/Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest was one of my favorites. I felt welcomed, I mean anytime I can watch some of the best High School basketball players in the country and get good Barbque from the hospitality room, I'm good.
While I had a blast at every event I attended, my stop in Memphis at the ARS/Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest was one of my favorites. I felt welcomed, I mean anytime I can watch some of the best High School basketball players in the country and get good Barbeque from the hospitality room, I'm good.. When I arrived at Lakepoint's Court 3 to watch Mokan Elite vs. Expressions Elite at 4:00 pm, I'd followed my plan precisely.
However, when Kennedy Chandler took the floor, he threw a monkey wrench into my plans. I was blown away with his ability to control the pace of the game. I have seen a lot of High School basketball and, most point guards struggle with controlling and, playing with pace. Kennedy did not have those struggles, his ability to change speeds to set up opportunities for himself and his teammates are special. He also has elite quickness and good vision in the open court.
After the Atlanta EYBL session, I continued to track Kennedy via box scores and live streams. I watch his team win the 2019 Nike Peach Jam with him leading the way with 23 points, 9 assist and, 6 rebounds. I would see him again a few months later in Colorado Springs at USA Basketball Mini-Camp. He continued to impress me with his ability to create his shot off the dribble, with his knack to find open teammates and dictate the game's pace.
Which brings me to my visit to the ARS/Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest in Memphis, from January 2-4. The event was loaded with talent, featuring players like; Caleb Love, Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, Moses Moody, Jaden Springer, Mark Williams, and Matthew Murrell. Just an FYI Cade Cunningham is arguably the best player in the country. He has a way of galvanizing his team into playing completely unselfish which leads to a spectacular brand of basketball to watch.
With that said, I walked away from the Hoopfest blown away with Kennedy. Particularly his game against national powerhouse IMG Academy. If you check the boxscore you'd probably ask what's so special about a 32-22 victory? Couple that with a stat-line of 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and you'd be scratching your head.
(Text with SEC Assistant Coach)
It was the way he controlled the game, how he dribbled circles around the defense to sure his team got a good shot on every possession. Towards the game's end IMG was out of gas, after playing defense 45 seconds to a minute on almost every possession. It was a great game-plan by Coach Reinhart; to negate their size & athleticism; to make them work on defense and speed them up on offense.
Throughout the weekend, Kennedy played with confidence, got his teammates involved, knocked down shots off the dribble and, he was also very efficient in the mid-range and. He reminds me of the old-school point guards that did everything for their teams. He is unselfish, looks for teammates, controls the tempo, along with the ability to create his shot. In conclusion, if I were a college coach he would be the type of player I'd want to lead my program.
Now to my conversation with C/O 2021 Point Guard Kennedy Chandler in Q&A form:
Q: Tell what life was like growing up in Memphis, I met your Mom and Dad at the tournament, do you have any brothers or sister?
A: So I'm lucky enough to have two Moms. The one you met at the game is my Step-Mom but I call them both Mom. I have an older sister that lives in Nashville. I have has supported me, my sister always pushes me to go harder every day. My dad has always pushed me and both, my moms. Everybody has pushed me, sometimes my grandma would pick me up to take me to workouts. Everyone has contributed to getting me to where I am now.
Q: Tell me about your experience at USA Basketball in October. Tell what you can take from there and bring back to your team at Briarcrest?
A: From USA I learned that I gotta be more vocal. I might be killing on the court but I gotta be more vocal. My high school coach tells me the same thing. So that's one thing gotta work on being vocal and being a better leader.
Q: Tell me how did a Memphis kid, who has the option to play for Bluff City or Team Thad end up playing for Mokan Elite?
A: It was just the best fit. It was a team that was gonna push me hard. I needed a coach that I had a good relationship with and that's the one thing I had with Coach Perry. I feel like it was a really good move that I made.
Q: Tell me about your experience at the Nike Elite 100 Camp?
A: For me, I think that was the time when I blew up. I was on the same team with Chet (Holmgren) and Jonathan Kuminga. It was crazy because we made it to the championship game and everybody was watching us. And people were like who is this kid? That when I really felt like I put my name out there and showed people what I can do.
Q: Do you have anybody that you've patterned your game after or compare your game to?
A: I look at Chris Paul and the way he plays in the Pick n Roll. I look at Kyrie and the way he finishes & dribbles the ball. And, I look at Damian Lillard, that's pretty much it.
Q: What do you still think you need to work on?
A: My outside range pretty much and my pull-ups. My catch & shoot is pretty good. Oh, and I need to work on not getting so deep in the hole.
Q: What are your goals moving forward this year and your senior year?
A: Just win the State Championship, that's my focus.
Q: What's something people don't know about you?
A: That I'm a funny person and can't nobody beat me in Madden. Well nobody on my basketball team is beating me. I mean they probably have but I've won more than them. And the weird thing is I don't play 2K, I play Madden and Call of Duty.
Q: What schools have offered you and showed interest in you?
UT-Martin offered me when I was in the 8th grade but a lot of other schools have offered me since then. Like, Tulane, Ole Miss, SMU, Florida, Duke, UNC, Memphis, and Tennessee, schools like that.
Q: Okay last question. Would you rather hit a game-winning shot at home or on the road and tell me why?
A: Man that's good questions. It all depends if it was a big rival school and a tough game but, to be honest, I would do both. I'll just say at home because if I hit the shot, the student section would probably run on the court. Yeah at Home.
In conclusion, I have to say thank you to Kennedy and his family for allowing me to chat with him. I believe he has a bright future and I can see him on top of the Point Guard mountain in High School by the time he graduates next year. He's a good kid with a loving family that supports him fully, which is what we all need from time to time. He also recently narrowed down his college choices to 10 schools, here's that list. Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Southern Califorina. Whoever lands Kennedy Chandler is getting a great player and an even better person, happy recruiting.
Until next time......