Southlake's Leonard Makes Colorado University History in Impressive Freshman Season
May 11, 2016 08:31AM ● Published by Kevin
Kennedy Leonard. Photo courtesy of Colorado University.
Gallery: Kennedy Leonard, Freshman, Colorado University Women's Basketball [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
According to Colorado University, her 135 assists this season rank fourth all-time amongst first-year players. We caught up with Leonard about her first year at Colorado and her future aspirations.
Southlake Style: You had 28 starts in your freshman year out of 29 regular season games. Talk about the ability to do that, which many freshmen players aren’t afforded.
Kennedy Leonard: I think coming in in the offseason and trying to work as hard as I could to get that spot was important to me. The ability to come in and start was a huge factor. I tried to work as hard as I could in the summer and be a good leader with my teammates. They started to rely on me and the team meshed up together. I was fortunate to not only play in 29 games but start 28.
SS: You made waves in your first year, fourth all time in assists for a single season, first-year player; second on the team in scoring average; first on the team in average assists... Did you expect to perform this well so early?
Leonard: I didn’t really expect it, but by the end of the season, it was cool to see what I had done. I didn’t come in expecting that stuff. It was cool to have my teammates there to do it with me. It was a cool experience and I’ll hope to build on it.
SS: The team lost the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. What did you learn from that experience?
Leonard: I think when you get there, it’s a lot of excitement to be there, especially as a freshman. Next year, it’s anybody's day. Any given day, anybody can win. It’s that mindset. If you don’t get that win, you’re done. Being a young team, we weren’t prepared for what was coming. Next year, we have a chance with the growth and maturity to get there and have the experience to get in and get ready to go.
SS: What led you to pick Colorado?
Leonard: The place that Colorado is. Every day you wake up and look at the mountains. The team is awesome. I'm surrounded by good people all the time. I wanted to change the culture here. When I get to the end, I want to leave this place better than I found it.
SS: What’s your major/career focus? Why?
Leonard: I think I want to go into business, sports marketing, or marketing/advertising. Something within that realm. I want to coach when I’m older. I don’t really know. I know the business side of things, because my dad is a big business guy. To relate to him on that level as well is cool. To coach, you have to be something other than a coach to graduate, so that’s what I picked.
SS: You were born in Jersey. When did you move to Southlake?
Leonard: I was born in New Jersey and lived in Chicago until 2008, then in 2008, I moved to Southlake. I was like 12 when I moved.
SS: What are the biggest differences between Southlake and Chicago?
Leonard: Probably the weather is a big one. The football obviously, and sports aspect. They are big on basketball in Chicago, and football in Southlale. The Mexican food in Southlake is better. People in Texas and Southlake are nice. People in Chicago get mad when you don’t drive the right way. They can be angry. Southlake is laid back and people let you do what you want to do.
SS: How do you see the next few years playing out? What are your long-term and short-term goals for the team and academics?
Leonard: For myself, in the long run, I want to go pro. Hopefully one day I get to do that. I want to make the All-Pac12 team. I want to be on every one of them. I want to be a good leader to people and have people look up to me personally.
On the team standpoint, I want to get to the NCAA tournament, the Final Four, and I want us to leave a legacy. Academically, I want to graduate and go on, after I finish playing pro, if I get the chance, I want to coach. If I can’t do that, I want to be involved in sports somehow, somewhere.
SS: What do you like to do outside of sports? Who is Kennedy Leonard, the person, not the basketball player?
Leonard: Kennedy Leonard the person... I like to cook. Cooking and baking is really fun. I could just have my dog as the only [being] in my life and I’d be completely OK with it. I like to hang out with my family a lot and relax. I love sports, but I’m pretty laid back. People think I’d be uptight or stressed, but I like to kick back, hang out and do things that make me happy.
SS: Coming from Southlake, how did that shape you. How did playing at/attending Carroll, in your opinion, prepare you for your successes so far?
Leonard: Coach Morrison still talks to me every day. She’s more of a mentor than a coach now. I played for her four years. We had a great relationship then. Every day, I talk to her and she helps me with everything that I have to go through here. She tells me everything’s going to be OK. A lot of people don’t get that. I thought that’s really important. Everything's really competitive there. You don’t get an easy day there. In other high schools and places, things aren’t as competitive as it is both academically and sports-wise as Southlake.
SS: Favorite memory on the court, playing for Carroll?
Leonard: My senior year, it was for Coach Morrison’s 500th win. We were down 1 point with 2 seconds left and I hit the game winner. I got her 500th win for her. It was really great to help her get it.
SS: Anything you’d like to say to the folks back home?
Leonard: Just thank them for making it the community that it is and that everybody cares about what everybody else is doing and wants what’s best for everybody. That plays a huge role in what everyone’s able to accomplish in Southlake.