Having played in the NBA for four seasons, Erie BayHawks point guard Keith McLeod has an idea of what an NBA player looks and plays like.
In his mind, teammate D.J. Kennedy is getting closer to having that NBA look.
“He’s real close because he can do it all,” McLeod said. “If you look at the stat sheet, he’s always got eight or nine rebounds, seven or eight assists and double digit points. It’s just about the league and what they want and when they want it. His name getting out there more so people can check him out and I’m sure they know who he is.”
A 6-6 guard out of St. John’s, Kennedy is averaging 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 26 games, but still feels as if he’s under the NBA radar.
“Nothing has changed,” said Kennedy, who has started every game he’s played for the BayHawks. “That’s my mentality.”
In his last game before the D-League all-star break, Kennedy had 19 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and five steals in an 97-88 loss to the Dakota Wizards.
“D.J. plays all facets of the game,” Erie coach Jay Larranaga said.
Kennedy had a string of 16 consecutive games in which he scored in double figures. When that stretch ended in am 128-118 loss to Dakota, Kennedy responded with a career-high 28-point effort in Erie’s 113-106 win at Fort Wayne last week.
“When his shot is clicking too, it just adds another dimension to his game,” Larranaga said.
Kennedy made seven straight 3-points in the win. He’s shooting 38.3 percent from three this season.
“The first one I missed, with the way it left,” Kennedy said. ” I just knew from shootaround it was going to be a long night if I was able to get the shots. I knew from the first one with the way it missed, that I was going to keep shooting them.”
The amazing thing about Kennedy is he’s coming off an torn ACL knee injury he sustained in the Big East Tournament last season in his senior year at St. John’s.
“He’s having a great year for us,” Larranaga said. “I’m very pleased with the year he’s had and always reminding ourselves that he’s less than a year off an ACL surgery. He has a really bright future as long as he keeps working and staying on the path he’s been on.”
With the way he’s playing, Kennedy seems over the injury.
“I’m just getting a better feel for the game,” Kennedy said. “More confidence out there in my shot. Just more confident. Trusting in the work on the court and the work you’ve put in will show in the game.”
Kennedy said he wants to get some rest back in his hometown of Pittsburgh before returning to the BayHawks for practice Thursday.
“It’s been a long season,” Kennedy said with a grin. “Trying to come back fresh and be ready to work and continue to progress.”
When Erie returns to action Feb. 28 against Fort Wayne at Tullio Arena, Kennedy will have to play a major role if the BayHawks are going to make the playoffs.
Then again, if Kennedy keeps playing the way he is, he may wind up on an NBA team this season.
“It’s about the right situation and opportunity to be able to get on top,” McLeod said. “A lot of times, if you can play, you might get overlooked just because of the opportunity and the situation of what teams got going on, but he’s definitely close.”