Lifetime Lancer Thomas Kennedy Named USPORTS Men’s Basketball MVP
Thomas Kennedy wishes he was in Halifax this weekend with the other teammates from his University of Windsor Lancers who are playing for the national championship.
Unfortunately, the Lancers’ run ended in the OUA semifinals with a 79-74 loss to eventual champion University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Despite the disappointment, the fifth-year business student went to the Nova Scotia capital, where he accepted the Mike Moser Trophy for Most Valuable Player in USPORTS men’s basketball.
“It takes away the sting a bit,” the 6’9″ forward said while competing at the USPORTS Final 8 Championships in Halifax. “But being recognized as an individual is not possible without everyone supporting you. My teammates, my coaches and most of all my family.”
Upon seeing the trophy, Kennedy immediately saw the honor.
“To win this award with all the talent on the trophy – there are so many names on it,” he said. “And this year there have been some great individual performances. And it’s a great honor for me to be considered.”
The lifelong Lancer, who attended St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, said after receiving the MVP award that he had many people on his mind. Two of those in particular were his father James, to whom he passed the all-time scoring chart to get to the top, and Lancers head coach Chris Cheng.
“If people know me, they know my father,” Kennedy said. “He doesn’t miss a game. I play basketball because of him and I play for him in a way. I know he’s enjoying the moment as much as I am knowing the number of hours I’ve put into it and the number of hours he’s put into it.
“Coach Cheng has been with me at the University of Windsor for four years,” he said. “He supported me even when I wanted to leave the team in the summer. And when I wear the Windsor shirt, he lets me play how I play and lead how I lead. He believes in me, not just as a player but as a person. This support is second to none.”
Coach Cheng couldn’t contain his excitement for his player.
“A testament to his hard work and dedication”
“I’m very proud of Thomas for receiving this award,” said Cheng. “This is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft. It has been such an honor and privilege to coach such a phenomenal individual and talented player.”
The two-time OUA All-Star led the Lancers to first place in the OUA West Division with a 16-6 record and the No. 6 finish in the country. His play at both ends of the court made him a deciding factor in every game, leading the country in offensive and defensive rebounds.
His 20.8 point-per-game average was ninth in Canada, as was his .590 field goal percentage. He was fifth in the nation in blocks at 1.7 per game.
Despite all the national stats, what meant the most to him was becoming the all-time top scorer at the University of Windsor with 1,479 points. He also broke the school record for career blocks at 117.
“It was one of my goals. Having that tick means a lot,” Kennedy said. “When I came to school I set myself some goals. And when I came into the season I set myself some goals and this was one of them.”
As for the Lancers’ season, Kennedy knew it was time to bid for a championship, especially with the addition of veteran transfers Daniel Cummings and local hero Najee Brown-Henderson, and the return of Xavier Ochu to full health.
“We had three new starters that pushed us to the front,” Kennedy said. “Coach Cheng’s words to us were, ‘This team has a chance.’ We didn’t really believe it until the second half when we really got rolling and it was a great run and something I’ll always remember.”
Now that Kennedy’s career as a Lancer is over, he is seeking a professional basketball career in Europe while honing his game in Canada’s elite basketball league. Last year he played with the Fraser Valley Bandits.
“Playing in the CEBL really prepared me for varsity ball and going pro,” Kennedy said. “I hope that I can use all this knowledge and play professionally for as long as possible.”