As a city, Memphis has a long history of having great guards: Larry Finch. Andre Turner. Elliot Perry. And of course, Penny Hardaway. One young guard who is staring to get some attention is Kennedy Chandler.
Chandler is a 6’1” guard entering his junior season at Briarcrest High School. He’s drawn interest from many major collegiate programs, including Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, Ole Miss and the hometown team, the University of Memphis.
Chandler has done something no other Memphis basketball player has ever done: Winning the Peachtree Invitational — popularly known as “Peach Jam” — as a member of two different AAU squads. He was a freshmen when Team Penny won last summer years ago, and just last weekend, his team won the Peachtree Jam playing with Mokan Elite out of Kansas City, Missouri.
“It is a blessing for me to be the only player from Memphis to win the Peach Jam,” he said after the win.
Kylan Chandler, Kennedy’s father, thought carefully about allowing his son to play for Mokan. He was looking for a program that would be a great fit and would also be a great asset in helping Kennedy both on and off the court.
Kennedy was welcomed with open arms to his new team. In the championship game, Kennedy faced off against one of the best players in the class of 2020 in Jalen Green. Green, a bigger guard, was tasked with trying to slow down the younger Kennedy. Green is one of the prime targets for the Memphis Tigers and other storied college basketball programs.
Mokan Elite defeated Green and his California-based team WhyNot, squeaking out an 85-84 victory in overtime, with Chandler contributing a key steal late in the game. Chandler had 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the win.
Chandler has had a storied career at a very young age. Currently ranked as the top player in Tennessee and No. 25 in the nation, he’s a four-star prospect whose stock should rise based on his summer play.
As a freshman at Briarcrest, his team fell in the semifinals of the Tennessee state tournament, but bounced back to take the championship in his sophomore year. Chandler is looking forward to defending his team’s title during his upcoming junior year.
Chandler has been at Briarcrest since second grade. His current coach saw when his team was playing against an older team Briarcrest team and invited him to join his team. He has been playing there ever since.
Basketball is a family tradition for the Chandler. Kennedy’s grandfather had the nickname of “Mr. 40″ for averaging 40 points a game. His father and his sister also played basketball. Kennedy has been a gym rat since was five years old. His father would take him to the gym when he played, and he would be somewhere in the gym working on his dribbling skills.
Chandler models his game after NBA greats Chris Paul, Damien Lillard and Kyrie Irving. He considers himself a defensive-minded point guard who can also score in bunches.
“I play hard on every play whether we are winning or losing,” he said. “I love to find my other teammates and finding a way to get the win for my team.”
What’s next for Chandler this summer? He’s set to participate in Chris Paul’s CP3 Rising Stars National Camp this weekend, where some of America’s best guards will get instruction on how to improve their game. He’s also headed to Colorado for USA Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp.