by: Nick Welsh
Thomas Kennedy’s path to the Lancers basketball team seemed to be in his DNA. His dad, James, captained the team for three seasons and now it’s his turn to make an impact on campus courts across Ontario.
The six-foot-nine Thomas is scoring 17.9 points-per-game and much of this season’s fortunes for the Lancers rests on his abilities. James, for his part, was a three-time OUA all-star. With so much in common, Thomas was bound to pick Windsor, right?
Thomas said he never applied anywhere else; Windsor was always the goal. He asked Chris Cheng, who was the head coach of Nipissing University at the time, why he didn’t recruit him. Cheng said everyone knew he was set for Windsor.
Cheng knew Kennedy was going to be a Lancer and much of that had to do with James’ affiliation with the team – but also former Lancers head coach Chris Oliver took an interest in Thomas at an early age.
“I think the credit has to go to a coach like Chris Oliver, who took an interest in Tom since the age of five and built his love of the game, his understanding, and most importantly his skills,” said James. “Coach Oliver’s long and storied career at the University of Windsor had a great influence on Tom wearing blue and gold.”
Thomas developed his game through Oliver but has known Cheng since 2017, Cheng was also the assistant coach at the World Championships and got to see Kennedy in action before coming to Windsor. Cheng likes how Kennedy handles himself on the court.
“He has a good skill set and a much higher IQ than the average 2nd year player in our conference and perhaps our league overall, which makes him the players he is,” Cheng said. “What makes Thomas good is he is very coachable, hardworking, and humble.”
Thomas’ choice to play for the Lancers wasn’t a surprise but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve. Thomas usually wore #14 to honour his sister, Shannon, and her accomplishments at St. Clair College. This season he surprised his family at the Lancer’s first game by sporting #54 – his father’s number when he suited up for the University.
“I decided to switch to 54, and maybe it would be a little bit easier shoes to fill,” Thomas chuckled. “He had no idea. My dad said he got a little bit of an allergic reaction when he saw it; he said something got in his eye.”
James, who attends all the games, said it was quite the honour and surprise.
“Yeah, it was emotional,” Said James. “Seeing Thomas in the Lancer blue and gold tickles my heartstrings, but at the end of the day, it was his choice, and we’re proud of the fact he chose the University of Windsor and to stay home and play in front of friends and family.”
Thomas is turning heads and his game is getting more exposure. Recently he played in the FIBA 2019 World Championships for Team Canada on the Junior Men’s National Team. He expressed that it was a great experience and was always one his goals. It also enormously helped Kennedy to develop more confidence as a player.
“The biggest thing developmental wise was confidence; it means that everything pays off. A bunch of hours in the gym and hard work motivates me to get back in and do more.”
The Kennedy parents are very proud of what Thomas has done and the hard work he has put in to get to this level.
“His mother and I are incredibly proud of his accomplishments,” James said. “As a dad and a mentor and coach to Tom in his early years, it is not so much the recognition of the Canada jersey but the recognition of the incredible amount of work and time and effort and dedication that Thomas demonstrated throughout the years. I’ve been lucky to see it from the grassroots.”
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