Kenny Belton Getting Settled In

When Mick Cronin went looking for more size in order to compete in the Big East Conference, he found Kenny Belton. Now Belton has arrived on the Cincinnati campus and is getting settled in.

Bearcat basketball recruit, Kenny Belton, came to Cincinnati a few weeks ago, but the winding road that brought him to the Queen City went through the University of Maryland. Belton had verbally committed to the Terps while a junior at Greensboro Dudley High School (same school that produced Eric Hicks) only to find out that Maryland head basketball coach, Gary Williams, wasn't interested in his services. That opened the recruiting door for Mick Cronin and his staff to recruit some much needed size, and the Bearcat coaches made sure they made the most of the opportunity.

Kenny talked about his recruitment to Cincinnati. "After the situation with Maryland, I had interest from other schools like Virginia, N. C. State, Wake Forest and schools like that, but I came up here with my family for a visit, and I really liked what I saw. Because of what we went through with Maryland, we made sure we made the right decision. The coaching staff and the players really welcomed us, and we had a pretty good feeling." Kenny credited Mike Williams, Marvin Gentry and Marcus Sikes with making him feel at home during his visit.

Kenny actually had a family connection to the Bearcats. His cousin, Kevin Ward, was a defensive tackle that played on the 1997 Cincinnati squad that ended UC's 47 year bowl drought by playing in the Humanitarian Bowl. Kevin finished his Bearcat career the following season as one of the team's captains.

So far the bulk of Kenny's time in Cincinnati has been spent attending summer school, playing basketball and working out. The playing basketball part has recently been slowed due to an old ankle injury. Belton has sat out the last two games of the Deveroes Summer League. "I hope I can return next Saturday or Sunday, but the big thing is this is an injury I never rehabbed. It was originally a fracture, and I took some time off, but they never put it in a cast or boot. Plus, I've put on some weight prior to coming here and that's hurt me too. It's really slowed me down. Once I get this worked out, fans will see a completely different player." The power forward maintains the injury has robbed him of much of his quickness and leaping ability.

Belton's size (6' 7.5"/255) will certainly help a previously undersized Bearcat team match up in the Big East Conference, but Kenny's not sure what his role will be next season "I want to do whatever I can. I'm going to try and find out the chemistry of the team and what people do best. Once I get the feel for that, I'll know what I can bring to the table. I'm pretty sure rebounding will be a major factor, but I'd like to eventually bring some offense to the table too."

The partial recruiting class of Alvin Mitchell, Rashad Bishop, Larry Davis and Belton have bonded since they spend quite a bit of time together. "I'd say we've bonded because we haven't had a lot of chances to be with the upperclassmen. The freshmen have had to go through all these physical tests together like a cardio test and things like that. We talk a lot and are trying to get to know each other better." They may be getting to know each other better off the court, but on the court, Kenny admits they are still very much in the learning mode. "We've played only a handful of games together, but for the most part, we're still learning how to play together. Larry's knee has bothered him from time to time, and as time goes on and we get closer to the season, I'll be better able to speculate where those guys will be."

On and off the basketball floor, Kenny has looked the part of the gentle giant, but he says that will change. "When the league comes around, I'm not the type to back down from anybody on the court. When I get healthy, you'll see a very emotional player."

One of the reasons Kenny signed on to play with the Bearcats was the expectation that Coach Cronin would be bringing in even more size so Kenny wouldn't be playing out of position. Like other Bearcat basketball fans, Kenny's looking forward to the Cincinnati debut of fellow big man, Anthony McClain. "Getting guys like him is one of the reasons I decided to come here because I also want to work on my outside shot and develop other skills." Belton has never played against McClain but shared what knowledge he had. "I hear he's very athletic and can block shots. He has a huge presence on the inside." McClain is expected to arrive in Cincinnati in the next week or two.

The addition of Jason Henry to this recruiting class sounded remote since Kenny claimed to know very little of the situation and didn't want to comment.

A major in Communications is a possibility, but as the power forward takes 9 hours this summer session, he sounded like a kid in the academic candy store. "I'm not really sure yet. There's so much to choose from."

If Bearcat fans would like to get a closer look at Kenny Belton and the other Bearcats, the Deveroes Summer League resumes on Tuesday, July 10. Kenny's Slat's team plays at 7:30.


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