Feature photo courtesy of UAA Media.
Jamon Kemp’s last name carries a lot of weight. His father, Shawn, played in the NBA for 14 years, and his oldest brother, Shawn Jr., played at University of Washington. This past year Jamon, a Class of 2019 shooting guard, was one of just three freshmen to make the varsity team at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington. Now, for Jamon, the youngest brother in the family, the goal is to make his own impact on basketball, while also building onto the Kemp legacy.
Whenever he walks into a gym, Jamon, who first started playing at four years old, hears people talking about his family. He always hears people talking about who his father is, but when he is on the court he, “tries not to think about it too much,” because he wants to do things on his own and build his own reputation. Admittedly, though, he added it was “cool, because [he can] keep building on the legacy and keep it going.”
Part of the reason for his desire to continue the legacy is the love Kemp has for basketball. His dad tells him he does not have to play just because he did, but Jamon always replies, “this is something I want to do, this is something I have a passion for.” The passion Jamon has for basketball comes from a number of places.
“All my brothers played basketball, my mom played basketball,” he said. “Just being around the game for so long, I’ve been watching and learning. Growing up looking [my dad] up, watching his films and stuff like that.”
Two more of Jamon’s biggest motivators are his haters and those who believe in him, he said. He wants to prove every person who says, “the name is for nothing,” and that he will never play in the NBA wrong. Additionally, he pushes himself to succeed to prove those who believe in him right.
On the court, Jamon describes his game in one word: “smooth.” Growing up, he would play inside because he was the tallest on his team, but now that he is in high school, at 6-feet-5-inches, he has transitioned into a guard roll, which has helped to improve his handles. This transition has allowed him to become an inside-out scoring threat who can attack from anywhere on the floor.
“I can shoot,” he said. “I can handle the ball. I can guard bigs. I can play defense. I’m an all-around player.”
What makes Kemp even more tempting as a recruit is that he is going to keep growing. He grew 3 inches in the past year alone, his father is 6-feet-11-inches tall, his mother is 6-feet tall and all his brothers are between 6-feet-7-inches and 6-feet-10-inches; doctors think that Jamon will end up at around 6-feet-8-inches tall, he said.
Because of this, Jamon thinks his best roll at the next level would be as a guard/forward, spending time at the shooting guard position and both forward spots, in the mold of Kevin Durant and Brandon Ingram. Like both of those players, Jamon uses his length to his advantage, calling it one of his biggest strengths on the court. His length helps him in many facets of the game, including blocking shots, jumping into passing lanes, disrupting shorter guards, passing and rebounding. On the court, Kemp said the biggest area he needs to improve on is his weight; he weighs just 160 lbs. Although his dad was taller in ninth grade, Jamon has a very similar build to Shawn at that age, so he should fill out into a more muscular frame.
“I talk about it with my dad all the time,” he said. “We work out together, doing weight stuff, push-ups, sit-ups, jumping rope and using weight vests. Stuff that he did when he was in training.”
One thing Jamon has that not many other players do is a wealth of veterans he can lean on for advice. In addition to his dad, who he talks to every day about how to get better, he speaks to a bunch of other players and former players too. One player he is close to is Gary Payton II, who just finished his playing career at Oregon State. In addition to Payton II, Jamon, and many other players from Seattle, has a relationship with multiple professional players from the area. He speaks to Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes and Brandon Roy, who, like Kemp, played at Garfield High School.
“They always me stories about how hard I have to work and even when you think you’re good you need to be putting in work on your weaknesses and strengths,” he said. “You always need to be getting better.”
Because of this mix of talent, direction and potential, he has already begun to hear from multiple colleges. Some of the schools he has been in communication with are University of Washington, Oregon State and Long Beach State. But, if he could go to any school in the country he would choose Kentucky.
“That’s just been my all-time favorite school,” he said. “The alumni that went there, the coaches are great, all the players that they’ve helped, most of their kids go to the league and the team atmosphere there is great. Plus, my dad was going to go there, he signed a letter of intent to go there.”
This offseason, Kemp’s main focus is to get stronger but he would also like to work on his left hand, he said. Garfield lost several seniors this season, so he plans to prepare himself to step up, he added.
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