Monday, July 11, 2011

Shawn Kemp Jr: What's In A Name?

In Seattle the name Shawn Kemp brings up all kinds of emotions and positive thoughts of glory days long since past. Sonic fans remember all too well a skinny kid from Indiana that evolved into the Reign Man and brought the Supersonics within one game of an NBA championship. His dazzling display of dunks and alley oops from Gary "The Glove" Payton are etched into our hearts and minds. Last week the University of Washington announced that Shawn Kemp Jr. has decided to play basketball in the city his father became an iconic figure. What can we expect from his namesake?

To be fair, there's really no comparison between the two. They're both named Shawn Kemp and they're both 6'10, but that's where the similarities end. Shawn Kemp Jr. was not a top recruit out of high school and doesn't display the same explosive athleticism of the elder Kemp. His numbers were average against formidable competition and his footwork needs improvement. To make matters worse Shawn Kemp Jr. didn't even play basketball last year. The kid has physical tools (you can't teach height), but he will be a project with a capital P. Pac 12 basketball is no joke and I doubt he will get much playing time this upcoming year.

For fans to hold Shawn Kemp Jr. to the same standard they hold Shawn Kemp would be a mistake. It's an exercise in futility that can only end with disappointment. The best thing to do is let the kid develop on his own without the pressure of unrealistic expectation. The Huskies need size and someone they can mold for the future and from that perspective Shawn Kemp Jr. is in the right place. If the fans are looking for posterizing dunks from day one and criticizing the short comings in his game Seattle will be a nightmare. The name Shawn Kemp casts a big shadow. Let's hope Shawn Kemp Jr. steps out of it in his own way.

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