DJ Kennedy is a 24 year old 198cm forward from Pittsburgh that is playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg. He started the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB): VTB United League: 4 games: 19.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 3.3apg; Eurocup: 3 games: 16.3ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.7spg. He started his basketball career in 2007 with St.John’s (NCAA) where he played a total of 129 games until 2011 and as a senior played 32 games averaging 10.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 77.8%. In 2011, he started his professional basketball career with the Erie Bay Hawks (D-League) playing 47 games: 15.6ppg, 7.4rpg, 4.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 82.5%, in Apr.’12 signed at Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA): 2 games: 6.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg. In the 2012-2013 season he played for Erie Bay Hawks (D-League, starting five): 35 games: 18.8ppg, 8.3rpg, 5.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 83.8%, in Mar.’13 signed at Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League, starting five): 20 games: 14.3ppg, 7.1rpg, 4.8apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 81.8%. Last season he came to Europe and played for three teams with BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA): Eurocup: 4 games: 11.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.3apg; French ProA: 4 games: 9.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.0spg, left in Dec.’13, in Jan.’14 moved to Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB), later that month agreed terms with Hapoel Holon (Israel-Winner League, starting five): 19 games: 12.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 72.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
DJ Thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are currently playing your fourth professional season and already playing for your 11th team. Do you sometimes feel like a basketball globetrotter because you are traveling the world?
Globetrotter? Not at all. It’s been nine teams and I appreciate all nine, because I learned from each one.
You are playing your first season for the MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL) after starting the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB) where you had very powerful stats. Did the weather get too cold in Russia or why did you leave the team?
The weather wasn’t a factor for me I’m from Pittsburgh so that wasn’t a big deal for me. I just think with the hiring of a new coach and the president wanting to go in another direction. So it was best that we came two a mutual agreement for both sides to move on.
You have seemed to have had no problem adjusting to the Beko BBL as you are leading the league in scoring with 21,4ppg, 6,2rpg and 3,0apg. What has been your secret to adjusting so well to the high level of play?
Constantly just trying to get better every chance I can and being able to stay consistent & ready from Russia to Germany.
It has been an up and down ride so far as the team lost its first four games with three being very close and since then have won five of the last six. What have been the main reasons for the team winning more as of late?
I really feel our success lately has been because we have a better feel for one another now and we all are on the same page as a collective group and it shows.
There is seldom a team in Germany that has so much NBA air on a team as Ludwigsburg has yourself, John Brockman, Koby Carl and Mike Stockton. What has it been like having so much NBA around on a daily basis?
This is a Great group of guys very competitive, humble, unselfish and works hard every day!…we are all learning from each other and it’s great to be apart of this group.
You have played for so many coaches in your young career, but what have you been able to learn form John Patrick in your first few months?
Coach Patrick has been great for me, lot of my success so far has a lot to do with him. We have a great connection. He is very hands on as far as fundamentals & defense and stresses the little things that makes a big difference. I have a lot of respect for him.
You have scored 20 plus points seven times including a 31 point effort against Tuebingen. Which team in the BBL was the toughest team you played so far where you had to earn your points most?
I haven’t played against all of the teams in the BBL yet. But so far the teams that I’ve played all have been tough. This is a very physical league and competitive.
You are a swingman that can do it all on the floor, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My ability to be physical. I think people think that I am not a fan of physical play, but I welcome it. This is one of the reasons I came to Germany. This is a very physical league and I love it. The physical play takes my play to another level.
As a rookie you played two games for the Clevland Cavaliars and in your second season you had very good stats in the D-League with Erie and Rio Grande. Were you very disappointed that you didn´t get a call up and what did you learn from your second season about the NBA?
Disappointed – of course it would have been nice to get a call up when I was having a good season but I can only focus on what I can control. I learned its all about timing & opportunity so I must be ready when your number is called.
What do you remember from your 28 point, 13 rebound, 10 assists game against Tulsa in the D-League where your teammate was current ratiopharm Ulm center Tim Ohlbrecht?
I remember how much talent was on our team. At that time with so many good players we won 18 straight games had fun playing with that team and staff.
You had very much experience in the D-League. Is there really anything positive that you can take from the D-League if one can´t dazzle the team scouts with individual play?
I really believe it’s about the right situation,timing, and making the best out of that opportunity. That is what I took from it.
What kind of experience was it playing with Dirk Nowitzki in training camp? What was something you learned that you didn´t know before you actually were able to play with him and get to know him in camp?
Dirk was great. There’s a reason why Drk has had so much success and will be a hall of famer he is one the hardest working players I’ve seen, just to see a guy who been in the league for so many years constantly working like its 1st year taught me a lot and motivated me even more.
In your third season you reached Europe and played in France, Russia and Israel. What was your wake up call to being a professional in Europe where you knew that you weren´t in the States anymore?
At first it was tough, just being so many miles away from home and having to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle. I have a lot of respect for every player that goes through it. Its something that you have to be willing to adapt to.
You had some pretty good talent at ST Johns when you were there, but why do you feel was the team never able to make more noise in a NCAA tournament?
I really believe a lot of it was due to how young we were. We came in with 9 freshman not sure if anyone could of had immediate success in that era of the big east which was the toughest conference in the NCAA! We didn’t have immediate success but it made us better & it showed our senior year when we finally had success and showed the world. We really had a chance to go far that year – if I hadn’t the injury in the big east tournament. But still think we had one great run.
Who was your toughest battle on the floor in the NCAA who is playing in the NBA now?
It’s really hard to point out one person the big east had so many great players that’s still playing guys like Jimmy Butler, Wesley Matthews, Lance Stephenson ,Kemba Walker just to name a few
What have you been able to appreciate the most about Germany on and off the court?
The people in Germany are great. fans shows a lot of support and stick with you through the ups and downs.
Who wins a one on one on practice you or Shawn Huff?
Huff would let me win I’m sure lol
Thanks DJ for the chat.