Bees star nears 2,000-point mark

2012-01-16T02:00:00Z Bees star nears 2,000-point markSteve Batterson The Quad-City Times
January 16, 2012 2:00 am  • 

St. Ambrose provided Mike Kennedy with a different type of college education.

The 6-foot-6 forward arrived four years ago with the reputation of being a shooter.

He'll finish his career later this year as a complete player, providing the type of consistent performance that has placed the senior in elite company.

Kennedy takes the court Wednesday at Viterbo needing six points to become the fourth player in St. Ambrose history to score 2,000 points.

A 24-point game Saturday against Waldorf raised his career scoring total to 1,994 points, a number topped by only one active player at any level of college basketball.

"It wouldn't matter if we were playing Holy Family Grade School or DePaul, Mike's going to give you 20 points and 10 rebounds every night," Fighting Bees coach Ray Shovlain said. "Every game, 20 and 10, that's the way has been since the day he arrived. He competes, very steady, very reliable."

Kennedy takes the approaching milestone in stride.

"It's not something that many people have a chance to do, so I do appreciate it, but if I score 10 and we win, I'm happy," Kennedy said. "I've always taken that approach. I don't go into any game thinking I have to score 20. I just try to let the game come to me, and that has served me well."

That comes easier now than it did when Kennedy arrived at St. Ambrose from Chicago Brother Rice, where added weight and strength changed the nature of his game.

"I was more of a shooter when I got here, but as I got bigger, I started to staying closer to the basket," Kennedy said. "Once I figured out that it was a lot easier for me to score in there, I found a home inside. If I get a chance to take the ball to the bucket, I'm going to do it. It's a pretty high-percentage deal."

Kennedy chose St. Ambrose over an opportunity to walk on at Eastern Illinois, and it did not take him long to realize that he had made the right decision.

He has started in all but one of the 113 games he has played for the Fighting Bees, averaging 15.2 points as a freshman, 16.5 as a sophomore and 20 points per game last season.

A returning NAIA Division II all-American, Kennedy averages 19.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the 25th-rated Fighting Bees.

"Watching him in high school, I saw a player who really fit our system. He could shoot the ball. He showed the potential to score inside, and he's just gotten better every year," Shovlain said. "Mike's worked at it. He's seeing the results of the work that he has put into his game."

That work provides opportunities for others.

His presence attracts defensive attention, providing openings which have helped senior Chris Donnelly and freshman Nicholas Frazier average in double figures as well, bringing balance to the offense of a team which shares the lead in the Midwest Collegiate Conference.

"Mike likes to get everybody involved, and that only helps the team," said Donnelly, who passed the 1,000-point milestone himself earlier this season. "If he sees that somebody else is open, he'll get them the ball. And, we're doing what we can to get the ball to him in a position where he can score it."

Donnelly said the versatility that has developed in Kennedy's game as an inside and outside threat - only Frazier has more 3-point baskets than the 21 scored by Kennedy - has made him that much more effective.

"He's hard to stop, and he's gotten tougher to stop every year," Donnelly said. "His game has really grown, and that has a lot to do with the time he's put into his game."

That work has been centered around one objective.

"This is a team game, and winning has always been the most important thing for me," Kennedy said. "Reaching 1,000 points probably was more meaningful for me. That was a big deal. I'm sure I'll be happy when I get to 2,000, but I know I'll be even happier if we win that game."

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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