By Kevin Wilson
Just like Kennis Green the basketball player, Kennis Green the person is a challenge to categorize.
The Eastern New Mexico University junior is a basketball player who raps, not the other way around. He’s got the size to play forward in the Lone Star Conference and the speed to play shooting guard, not the other way around.
“He’s a guard all the way,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said of the 6-foot-5 Green. “He just has the luxury of being a little bit bigger.”
The luxury showed on Saturday night, as the silky-smooth Green used a variety of shots to score 20 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds in a 106-58 exhibition win over the New Mexico All-Stars.
The competition will step up when the regular season starts on Tuesday, against Incarnate Word, but Scanlan is optimistic that the transfer from Blinn (Texas) Junior College will make the adjustment.
“It’s not like he’s coming in and hasn’t faced great competition,” said Scanlan, who called the Southeast Texas Conference one of the nation’s best. “He knows what it takes.”
He’s been learning about it since high school, where he was a four-year varsity member at South Houston.
“I played a couple freshman games, and the varsity coach saw me,” Green said. “He pulled me up after that.”
After averaging 17.5 points per game last season, Green looked at Division I colleges but said he didn’t have the SAT scores to immediately qualify.
“I could have sat out the semester,” Green said, “but I ain’t about to sit out.”
Green also has sights on music. He says he has been rapping since age 11 and performed with friend Keith Sais at a Houston concert last month — the pair opened for P. Diddy, Green said.
While he tries to rap on the side, his primary goal is to ensure continued success for ENMU, which won the LSC South Division last season but was eliminated in the post-season tournament.
“I want to get further than they did last year,” Green said, “go as far as I can. We’ve got to stay as consistent as we can on a winning level.”
Green is nearly the size of the 2002-03 South Player of the Year Cedric Palmer, but his shooting ability and quickness have him as the replacement for guard Randy Johnson. Scanlan is working with Green on the standard things for a shooting guard — better shot selection and creating opportunities for teammates.
Green shot just 8 of 23 in the exhibition — 1 for 8 from 3-point range — but Scanlan says the Hounds have a great shooter in Green and he’ll get better with each game and practice, provided all parties work to channel his energy effectively.
“He cares, he listens, he’s trying to be a quick learner and we need him to be a quick study,” Scanlan said. “We hope he learns sooner, rather than later. If it is sooner, you’ll see a really good player.”