West Ashley's Kennedy adjusting to college game

Matt Kennedy

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This time a year ago, Matt Kennedy was preparing for the Class AAAA state high school playoffs as a member of the West Ashley High School basketball team.

Nowadays, Kennedy is nearing the end of his first college season as a member of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.

Kennedy, a 6-3 shooting guard, has experienced a range of emotions and disappointments that most college freshmen endure over the course of a long college season. On the whole, Kennedy has survived quite nicely.

"It's definitely a lot more taxing on the body," says Kennedy of his first season. "Going every single day for so long is pretty tough. I have good days and bad days, but I just try to push through it mentally and physically.

"I expected it to be harder (than high school), but maybe not as hard as it has been. I feel like I've pretty much adjusted to everything but it was tough for a while."

Kennedy has seen his share of action from coach Barclay Radebaugh. He has played in 23 games, averaging about eight minutes. He is averaging a modest 2.9 points per game, but is coming off a nine-point performance in Saturday's loss to Presbyterian.

He is shooting 42 percent from the floor and has made 44 percent (11 of 25) of his 3-point attempts. He also is a perfect 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.

Radebaugh says Kennedy has held up well over the course of the season, and expects even bigger contributions in the future.

"Matt will continue to help us this year, but has a tremendous opportunity next year," Radebaugh said. "He is an important piece to our puzzle, no question.

"Matt is a worker. He has a great attitude and he puts his work in everyday. His future is as bright as he wants it to be. He's a gifted, talented young man and he has a great understanding of the game. The best thing about Matt is, when his number is called, he gives a great effort. He sits there and waits for his chance and he is always productive."

Kennedy, who also played soccer in high school, says he felt he came into college in good physical shape. He soon learned what being in good shape meant. He has learned to take weight training more seriously.

"The players are a lot more physical and a lot stronger," he said. "The speed of the game is a lot different. I think I will be better prepared for it after being able to get stronger during this offseason. It's no joke how strong some of these guys are that we play against, in practice and in games."

Radebaugh says those same areas affect freshmen players all over the country.

"The two biggest adjustments are playing defense and the adjusting to the physical nature of the game," said Radebaugh. "Those are things that affect every freshman in America. But, as a I said, Matt will do what he needs to do to get stronger and to improve in every area."

Overall, Kennedy is pleased with his first season.

"I'm pretty happy overall," Kennedy said. "I feel like I've been able to contribute. It's definitely a change, in terms of how much I played in high school and how much I play now, but I'm learning everyday and I feel like I'm getting better."

"I feel good about the future. The freshman year is a lot about confidence and I'm gaining confidence as I figure things out. I feel like I have a chance to be a real contributor in the future."