Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kennedy Not Likely to Stay Local for College

Greg Oden. Kosta Koufos. B.J. Mullens.

The list of highly-touted big men that have passed through Ohio State recently is long and distinguished, but Buckeye fans might have to make room for another name on that list: Markus Kennedy.

Kennedy, a 6-9, 225 lb. prospect out of St. Patrick (N.J.), is quickly making a name for himself on the AAU circuit with Team NJ ABC after playing behind Kansas recruit Quintrell Thomas last season.

And, although his college days are still a couple of years away, the class of 2010 big man lists Ohio State as his current favorite.

“I like the way they use their big man,” said Kennedy, who also lists Louisville, Michigan State, Rutgers, Xavier, Georgetown and “most of the ACC and Big East” among his potential suitors.

“Academics are important,” he added when asked what he was looking for in a school. “And if the team is like a family, I like that.”

Unfortunately for Big East fans in the Northeast, Kennedy said he wants to go away for college, which could rule out several schools in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia area.

After watching Kennedy play several times over the past month, it is clear that he has the potential to be a dominant force at both ends of the floor – if he improves his conditioning and stamina. He gets tired very quickly and does not get up-and-down the floor very well after a few minutes on the court. He will need to play in a halfcourt setting in college.

However, he did say that conditioning is the main thing he is trying to work on over the summer.

“I’m just running a certain number of miles per day,” Kennedy said. “I need to get more stamina and improve my agility.”

On the positive side, Kennedy already has a variety of skills that are only likely to get better as he gets older and matures. First of all, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, he is supposed to be 7-foot-2 when he finishes growing. If that ends up being true, look out.

Offensively, Kennedy is an outstanding force inside. He can finish around the rim, and is a ferocious dunker with both hands. He moves without the ball extremely well, constantly making himself available. He gets great position inside, enabling him to get easy baskets once he gets the ball. Kennedy has a variety of back-to-the-basket post moves off which he can get points. Additionally, he has decent hands. If he does not have a shot, he looks to pass the ball and does not force shots. He has a tendency to miss a few open lay-ups at times down low, but he also has the ability to finish with contact.

Defensively, he is a very shot-blocker who also changes shots without even touching them. On the other hand, he falls victim to pump-fakes on occasion and is often out of position or fails to box out when he tries to help out in the lane.

Kennedy is a charismatic and somewhat goofy player off the court, but he is all business on the hardwood and could be one of the top centers in his class in a couple of years.

“I think I can hang with [the top players in my class],” he said. “Other players have a bigger name than me, but I can hang with them.”

With two more years of tutelage from St. Pat’s coach Kevin Boyle, Kennedy will refine his game – and potentially more importantly, his physique and conditioning. Luckily, he knows what he needs to improve and he seems determined to work hard.

Said Kennedy: “I just want to get better for my high school team.”

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