By Adam McDougall, St. Thomas University Journalism
Kellen is from Dartmouth, NS and is arguably one of the top players to come out of the area. He is very family oriented and loves the fact that he is from Nova Scotia. He has represented his province multiple times. He helped his U15 and U17 Team Nova Scotia teams win the National Championship – in each championship Kellen was the MVP of those teams. Kellen is a second year captain and this is his third year at Rothesay Netherwood School.
I chose to attend RNS because, among other things, it is close to home. I’m from Dartmouth, NS so RNS is really not that far away for me. I knew what kind of coach that Coach Gay was, and I knew he was going to push me to be the best player that I could be. The academic piece was vital for me as well, as RNS has a really good IB program. All of those factors played into my decision to attend RNS.
My favourite subjects in school are biology and geography. I plan on going to the United States next year for my post-secondary education, as I have a few Division-1 NCAA offers. I should be making my decision on where to go within the next month or so, and I plan to study business wherever I go. I don’t know where I’m going to go yet, but that’s the plan.
Being a national champion and national MVP means a lot to me. The first competition I won was in Manitoba, and the second one was in BC, so being able to travel with my team – and represent my province of Nova Scotia a long way from home – was huge. We were never picked to win in either of the two years we won, so it was really special that I was a part of a team that managed to prove everyone wrong and capture that championship. The whole team – both years – really embraced an underdog mentality for those tournaments, and that mentality was another thing that influenced me when it came to choosing to come to RNS. RNS was not really a super well-known, big-time program when I arrived, but three years later, we’re undefeated in our league and I’d say one of the top teams in Canada. It really reflects that underdog mentality that eventually leads to some pretty great results.
That underdog mentality has also helped me push myself. I’ve always had a goal of playing at a Division-1 program, but if you look at it, there are not too many Nova Scotians who make it to that level. Especially with my path going through RNS, there has been no one who has taken the route I am – going to a prep school in Atlantic Canada and then going Division-1. Due to all of those reasons, I realized that if I wanted to make it, I would really have to push myself and work harder. I know that my goal is shared by a lot of other kids, and the main way to separate myself from the rest of the pack is through hard work. I know that I need to work harder than my competitors to get where I want to go.
I started playing basketball when I was three, but I also played baseball and football back when I was a kid. I really started taking basketball seriously about three years ago, when I re-classed. I went to public school in Dartmouth for a while, but when I realized I wanted to take basketball more seriously, and told my mom my plans, we decided it was better for me to go to a prep school. That was when we decided that RNS was the best choice for me.
My brother – who is also a two-time national champion and MVP – definitely pushed me. He’s older, and when we were kids, he was taller and stronger than I was. We would always play one-on-one, and he would never take it easy on me – he would rub it in my face that he was better than I was – but that made me competitive, and has made me who I am today. I really don’t like to lose, so when I play, I leave it all out on the court. After playing against him, it was easier to play against other people because they weren’t as good as he was. It really helped me a lot because, at times, I felt like games were easier than what I was used to. Now when I see him, we go to the gym and we play, but he doesn’t beat me anymore.
The main thing that separates my game from others’ is my defense. I realize that there are a lot of people who can score offensively, so I think the fact that I’m a good defender separates me from my competitors. I’m a good on-ball defender, and I get a lot of steals just from jumping in the right lanes (watching a lot of film on the teams that we are about to play really helps with that). But it’s the fact that I take pride in my defense that really separates me from others.
I hope to win a national championship at RNS. This is my third and final year here, and I think that, if we are to win it all, this is the team to do it with. We have a really, really good squad. I don’t want to discredit any teams that have done well in the past, but I feel like we are deeper this year compared to other years, and I believe we have more talent than in previous years. There hasn’t been a change in work ethic – we have always worked hard on and off the court – but I would say there is more talent this year, and a lot of the guys have developed. I’ve played with some of these guys for two or three years now, and every year we have come back and become better individually, which has made a definite impact for the team as a whole. I think that development would probably be the most important thing that makes this RNS team different than previous ones. The fact that all of the guys have bought in also makes a huge impact on the culture we have as a team, and greatly increases the likelihood that we could actually win a national championship. That would be special, and it would mean a lot to every one of us to win. That’s definitely the goal.
I see myself as a strong leader on this team
. Caleb Sooley
and Jack Fifield
, who have both been at RNS for four years, are two other guys that are really great leaders, but I’ve always said we have a team full of leaders. All of us hold each other accountable. Caleb, Jack and I are captains, mostly because we have been here for a longer period of time than some of our teammates, and Coach Gay knows he can count on us because of that. I definitely see myself as a leader, though, especially being the point guard on the floor. I call huddles and plays, and I often talk with Coach Gay in order to determine what kinds of defenses we should run, and that kind of thing. I just try to be a leader out on the court, but it’s easy when you have a group of guys like we have that are just completely bought into the team.
Every kid that plays basketball as a kid has a dream to go to the NBA. Obviously, if I have the opportunity to go to the NBA, I would take that opportunity without hesitation, but I realize the probability of me making it are not by any means guaranteed. I plan on going to university and just working as hard as I can, and hopefully the opportunity will present itself.
Outside of basketball and school I’m a big family guy. I have a little brother who plays basketball, so when I’m home I always go watch his games. I really like hanging out with my family and friends because I don’t get to see them often. Even when I’m home, I spend most of my time in the gym or studying, so I really like being with my family and friends whenever I have the chance.
When you first meet me, I’m usually quite a shy person. I keep to myself until I really get to know somebody. Once you get to know me, though, you find out that I’m goofy, and you find out who I really am, but when I first meet someone, I do tend to be shy and keep to myself. However, when I am on the court, I am a whole different person. I’ve been told that by many people because, based on how I act off the court, they just don’t expect me to act the way I do on the court. For example, I used to be pretty shy around my barber – not anymore because he’s been cutting my hair for a while now – but he came to watch one of my games in Halifax, and I was trash talking back and forth with the guys because I knew them pretty well. Everyone could really see the confidence I had on the court. When I went to see my barber a couple weeks later, he told me how surprised he was and how he really didn’t expect that behaviour from me. I just had to tell him that I’m not usually like that, but it’s a different story when I’m on the court.