By Kennedy Meeks, as told to Alex Busch
My name is Kennedy Meeks and this is my NBA journey…
Growing up in a tough area of Charlotte, N.C… it was tough.
My friends who didn’t play basketball, they just did what they wanted to do. At an early age, I had to really make a decision to take basketball seriously. When I did, some of those friends left, but some stayed. That’s just a part of life.
I obviously chose the right route and my family has always been so good at being protective and making sure all of us are good. That’s what it’s really all about.
At around 10 or 11 years old, that’s when I started to really care about winning, the team game, sharing the ball and being fully invested in that.
My best friend’s dad was always my coach, he always worked me out, went on AAU trips with me. Coach Carlton taught me a lot. He taught me how to be a team player, and how to share the ball first and let the rest come to you.
Thankfully enough I was an All-American in high school. It was a blessing. Something that you dream about, at least for me. Coming from a tough neighborhood, being able to be an All-American, doing that was big.
From there I committed to North Carolina, a hometown kid I guess you could say. I just tried to do my best there, tried to put my team in the best position to win. I feel like for the most part I did that.
I was recruited by a lot of schools, but it was amazing being so close to home. Especially for my mom being able to be close, and come to a lot of games.
College was a rollercoaster, man.
For me it was so helpful. It helped me grow as a man on and off the court. Thanks to Coach [Roy] Williams and his staff for that. The school aspect too, I met some great friends there, that I never knew I’d meet.
Losing the National Championship the way that we did my junior year would light a fire under anyone.
We were so excited when Marcus Paige hit that shot the first year because we would’ve had the momentum to push through if we went to overtime. Kris Jenkins then hit a tremendous shot, and he’s best friends with my brother. So I guess I would rather have him hit that shot than anyone else, but it still hurt.
Being a senior the next year I wanted to push it to another level and make sure we could get that chance again. We knew what it took, but we didn’t know how to fully win yet on that last Monday night.
It’s a total 360 when we won the next year. It was one of the best feelings in my life. It felt surreal because we had lost the year before. We were all just realizing how hard work really pays off through all the sacrifices we made.
I was able to graduate from North Carolina, and on Mother’s Day. That was special for my mom. She was so happy. I really put the work in, buckled down hard those last couple years and really invested time into being a better student and player.
Although being undrafted last year, being able to play under Jerry Stackhouse helped me tremendously.
We both came from rough neighborhoods and showed resilience, always trying to bounce back and be the best player we could. He obviously got drafted and had a tremendous career as a player, but definitely him being my coach helped me work a lot harder this year and be the most dominant player I could.
Winning is the best part about basketball. This season our guys really invested it all. Stack pushed us every day into development. He had the right plan and put it into place, and we really followed that, going to the Finals for the second year in a row.
My next step, is my ultimate goal – to play in the NBA full time. I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of being put in the right position. I just learned not to stress myself out with it.
I strive to be a winner. That’s my main objective every game is to just win. My rebounding and passing is something that I really take pride in. I’m a team player. But when I have shots I’m capable of knocking them down. Whether that’s defensively or offensively that’s something I always want to do.
My main objective now is to work as hard as I can and win games at whatever level I am at. Coaches know if you’re a winner.
I’ve always been the underdog – and I’m looking to become the big dog.
Kennedy Meeks is coming off a rookie season with Raptors 905, where he averaged 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds during the regular season, before helping lead the 905 to the NBA G League Finals. Meeks was a four-year player at North Carolina in college, where he won the 2017 NCAA National Championship with the Tar Heels.