It isn’t easy stealing the spotlight from Muskegon’s Deyonta Davis, especially on a night when the Michigan State commit had 15 points, 22 rebounds and 13 blocked shots, but when your nickname is “Hip Hop,” nothing is out of the question.
Joeviair (Hip Hop) Kennedy dazzled the crowd at the Floyd Mayweather Classic in Grand Rapids on Saturday night when he scored 31 points to help Muskegon to a victory over Romulus.
Kennedy, a 6-foot-3 senior, has expanded his game over the summer, and scoring outbursts like Saturday night are becoming more common.
He holds Division I basketball offers from Northern Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Houston Baptist, but I’m not so sure basketball is his best sport.
Kennedy also is a football player — a wide receiver — and for the life of me I can’t understand why his only football offer is from Ferris State.
Often guys who are high-profile football/basketball players think of themselves as basketball players who also play football, but that isn’t necessarily the case here.
“As of right now, I’m both,” Kennedy said, “but I’m leaning toward basketball. But I like them pretty much the same.”
He is leaning toward basketball only because of a lack of interest from football coaches.
Kennedy didn’t have eye-popping stats that earned him a spot on an all-state team, but that was no fault of his own.
“We run the veer, so we were trying to run the ball a lot,” he said. “We really didn’t pass much. I got maybe one or two passes a game.”
It is tough for a receiver to catch the eye of college coaches in a run-oriented offense, but it worked out for Canton’s Devin Thomas, who had a terrific career at MSU and was an NFL second-round draft choice.
Kennedy has good speed — 4.4 to 4.5 — and his size is ideal for a receiver. But the clincher for me was his response when I asked him what he liked about football:
“I like contact,” he said. “I like blocking — coming back and getting crack-backs and stuff like that. And I love catching the ball.”
Any receiver who says he likes blocking before he mentions catching passes is a legitimate football player.
As a junior, Kennedy caught three passes for 80 yards in the Division 2 state championship game. This season, he helped Muskegon reach the Division 3 final, but was thrown to only twice. The catch he did make was a 25-yard gain when he was matched against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s cornerback Tyson Smith.
“He’s going to Michigan State, and it was a pretty good matchup,” Kennedy said. “It was a jump ball, and I went up and got it.”
Jump balls are Kennedy’s specialty — do you think he got his nickname because he did the bunny hop around Muskegon?
“They started calling me Hip Hop because I could jump out of the gym,” he said. “When I was in the fifth grade, I was one of the only kids that could touch the middle part of the net. That was like a big thing when we were little.”
He began dunking in the eighth grade and hasn’t stopped. And the qualities that make him a standout in basketball make him even more valuable in football.
If only someone would notice.