Sure Pittsburgh is a nice city, but D.J. Kennedy had his sights set for playing on the biggest stage in the world. This is what led to Kennedy’s decision to join the St. John’s Red Storm, and in turn led to a stellar career with a melancholy conclusion. From the less than enjoyable Norm Roberts years to Steve Lavin’s first season with the Storm, D.J “Big Play” Kennedy etched his name among the St. John’s greats.
During his senior year at Schenley High Shcool, Kennedy was ranked the 35th overall small forward by recruitment services. His high school career ended superbly as his team picked up the 2007 Pennsylvania State championship. This championship team also included The San Antonio Spurs’ DeJuan Blair, who decided to attend college in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Some of his individual accolades while at Schenley included a first team all state selection as well as a first team all city selection. A year after his championship team, D.J. Kennedy would be playing at the Worlds Most Famous Arena, for Norm Roberts and the St. John’s Red Storm.
Before his senior season, D.J. Kennedy had played in every single game for St. John’s since his career began. His freshmen season included two double doubles and an average of 5.8 rebounds per game, good for second among the Red Storm squad. D.J. picked up 14 rebounds in his first career start vs. St. Francis. He started all but one of St. John’s’ 30 games, while putting in just about 27 minutes a night. The durable D.J. took over a bigger role on the team come his sophomore season. After an unfortunate Justin Burrell facial fracture, Kennedy began to fill up his stat sheet and raise his profile as a prominent threat. D.J. averaged 13 points a game on the season and a career high 6.6 rebounds, to go along with a solid 3 assist per game. The highlight of the season was his solid performance in the Big East Tournament, as his 14 buckets and 5 boards led to a St. John’s victory over Georgetown.
During his Junior season, D.J. Kennedy did just about everything for St. John’s. His strong season would earn him a first team All-Met selection by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. This was received as a result of his nasty numbers, leading the Storm in points per game, with a career high 15.1, assist per game with 3.1, rebounds with 6.1, steals with 1.2 and minutes played with 31.4 per game. Those categories were all led on the team by D.J. Kennedey, and to go along with those solid numbers he also had his career high in points with a 32 point outburst against DePaul. That game also featured 7 three pointers from D.J., the second all time highest shots made from downtown in St. John’s illustrious history. This season however ended with a disappointing NIT defeat, and the dismissal of Coach Norm Roberts.
Finally the Steve Lavin era began and the team became incredibly competitive for the first time in a long time. With numerous big wins including a huge upset over Duke and a solid Big East Tournament performance, this team was for real. But this season saw D.J. Kennedy playing as more of a role player with less minutes and points then he had since his freshmen year. Yet he still put up a great defensive effort every game while competing at a high level. He became an incredibly stingy defensive player, getting a career high 1.8 steals per game while also averaging a block every other contest. The highlight of the season came in what was one of many St. John’s upsets, with D.J Kennedy picking up 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Red Storm took down the future National Championship UConn squad by a big 89-72 score.
Unfortunately D.J. would not be able to join his teammates in what would have been his first career NCAA tournament appearance. A torn ACL led to his St. John’s career coming to a premature end while playing against Syracuse in the Big East Tournament. Despite this unfortunate end to his career, no one could forget the time and effort D.J. always put into his team. Even though they lost to Gonzaga in the first round, his teammates did their best to “Do It For DJ” one last time.
D.J. Kennedy played hard through thick and thin during his time at St. John’s. He left a legacy that anyone would be proud of. He didn’t get drafted into the NBA, but with his work ethic and determination, no one would be shocked to see if he one day found his way back onto the floor of Madison Square Garden.