Florida got a boost to their 2021 roster on Monday as shooting guard Elijah Kennedy announced his commitment to the Gators.
The 6’4” Virginia product was initially on his way to prep school before Florida offered, changing his plans entirely and allowing him to capitalize on a dream opportunity.
Kennedy had always believed he was a high major basketball player but late in his sophomore season of high school, disaster struck. During a regional semifinal game he went up for a layup and slipped, resulting in a horrific leg injury–the kind that instantly had teammates and coaches covering his lower extremities with towels to hide what had happened and had both teams joining around him in a prayer circle.
This completely changed Kennedy’s career trajectory as he was out for over a year, only getting to play in 10 games in his senior season after his junior year was wiped out. For that reason, it was tough to get eyes on him and he didn’t have much D1 interest.
Luckily for Kennedy, he was able to compete on the summer circuit, particularly the EYBL and ultimately the crown jewel of the summer basketball circuit, Nike’s Peach Jam. There, he was fantastic. Multiple analysts seeing Kennedy for the first time were stunned that he was without any high major offers, not knowing his injury history.
One game that really stuck out was a matchup between his Boo Williams team and Team Durant, a perennial power. Not only did Boo Williams win by 30, but Kennedy led the game in scoring with 20 and was the best player on the floor playing with and against committed high major players.
Another Florida target, 80th ranked Judah Mintz, had 2 points in that game and was largely outplayed by Kennedy.
Still, despite a fantastic summer, it was looking like Kennedy wasn’t going to get any high major offers. Most of these spots had already been filled, and with more transfers than ever a lot of high major teams weren’t holding out spots for late adds from the 2021 class. For that reason, Kennedy decided he would play at Combine Academy, a prep school in North Carolina.
That was, of course, until Florida offered.
The Gators had 2 open scholarships, and possibly a third coming open depending on the status of Keyontae Johnson. Kennedy was a player looking for a chance to play at the highest level, and Florida had the space to give an opportunity.
As a player, Kennedy is someone who plays with toughness and takes pride on the defensive end. Multiple of his highlight reels start not with dunks and made three pointers, but of him picking up opposing guards full court defensively and blocking shots around the rim. One highlight reel posted even has a section that showcases his rebounding, something you rarely see in the highlights of any high school player, much less a shooting guard.
Offensively Kennedy is known first and foremost for one skill–shooting the rock. In his 10 high school games and summer basketball schedule he had games with 6, 8, and 9 made threes, all with pretty good percentages. He stands at 6’4” with good length, so a player with that size and shooting touch should never have too much of a problem getting on the floor. There is also some definite ball handling talent, and while he might not be a lead guard his ability to control the ball definitely helps him as a driver.
Will Kennedy compete for minutes right away? Likely not. While he looked awesome on the summer circuit he is likely still getting back to full playing shape, but even more than that, he’ll be playing behind a loaded wing rotation. Myreon Jones, Brandon McKissic, Niels Lane, Phlandrous Fleming, and Kowacie Reeves are all players that could comfortably slot in at the “2,” so there will be some serious competition to get on the floor. However, even if it’s not right away, Kennedy appears to be a player destined for a stellar college basketball career and he seems willing to take a back seat at the start to help set up his dream to be a high major player.