Marcelus Kemp has his act together, so much so that a friend has made a webpage devoted to his basketball success, more out of admiration for a great kid than his hoops prowess. Soft-spoken and somewhat modest, Marcelus will never lack for fans or admirers. He has that extra something that just makes you like him. But don't let the modesty fool you, he'll kill a team with a merciless 40 point effort if he has to. We caught Marcelus at his Dad's house after missing him the evening before when he went to see "Rush Hour 2" with his buddies. (He recommends the movie, by the way, saying it was funny.)
Born and raised in the Emerald City, Kemp began playing around with a basketball at age 6 or 7. Playgrounds, gyms, any place he could shoot and dribble. His father was a very good basketball player in his own right, so not only are hoops in Marcelus' blood, but he has had a parent who has taught him a lot about the game and encouraged him at an early age to practice practice practice. The elder Kemp also played for perennial power Garfield High School, so it's looking a bit "like father, like son," and Marcelus is thankful to have a mentor like that. Marcelus says they're very close.
Marcelus always knew he had what it takes to play Division 1 basketball. What is nothing short of amazing is how he played his first full year of varsity just last year for Garfield and promptly scored 33 points against Davis High School and then 28 against Rainier Beach and the Stewart Twins. Asked how he did that, he simply said he got in a rhythm with his shot.
About that shot of his— It's been widely stated that Marcelus' shot is one of the purest and prettiest anywhere. He said this did not just happen naturally, it's the result of a lot of work and practice. Again, he credited his Dad for helping him achieve this. So, what's been the results lately of his pure shooting, combined with his slashing ability?
Try a blow up performance at the abcd Adidas Camp in New Jersey that got him rave reviews, but that was only the start of a great July for Marcelus. He exploded in TheFinalScore.tv Invitational, leading his AAU team, Seattle Rotary Select, to a championship, followed by a head-turning five games at the Big-Time in Las Vegas. And most recently, he was selected as the top 2 guard in the Best of the West Tourney in LA, again receiving high praise from those who know top talent when they see it.
Kemp has no basketball idols, not MJ, not Vince Carter… The biggest influence in his life is his father.
When asked what areas of his game he felt he needed to work the most on, he replied, "Defense." That's refreshing to hear when most guys don't think of defense until college. As stated earlier, Marcelus has it together. His strengths are his offense, his scoring, his shooting ability from anywhere on the court, plus his fondness to slash to the rack and finish in a big way. He won't talk trash unless somebody else starts first and persists. His game does his talking, but even as quiet as he may be, he'll show plenty of emotion after bringing down the roof with a big time jam.
One of Kemp's team mates is the highly-regarded Brandon Roy. Revealing a true team-first attitude, Marcelus said he doesn't feel like he plays in Roy's shadow at all. They're team mates, good friends and Kemp's only interested in winning state this coming year, so he sees Roy as someone who can help make that happen, nothing more, nothing less. It should be said that Kemp does not lack for confidence in any way. He has proven he can face off against anybody, especially over this summer. Asked if he went to Gonzaga and Brandon went elsewhere, and the Zags went to the NCAA Tournament and Brandon's team didn't, if he could call and raz his friend about it, you could almost see him smile before replying, "Oh yeah." Definitely good pals. They joke around a lot.
He and his father are planning a visit soon to Spokane and the Gonzaga campus. He likes the deep runs that the Zags have made a habit of making into the Big Dance and it's that kind of highly visible, big time success that intrigues Marcelus. Playing time as a freshman would be nice but it's not his highest priority, but he admitted that it would be nice. With wings Alex Hernandez and Anthony Reason graduating, and with Marcelus improving like he has, it would not be surprising to see the 6'4" wing guard become a very familiar sight on the court in The Kennel, early. Gonzaga is recruiting him hard, the coaches attending most all of his games and phoning frequently. Oregon, Utah and Seton Hall are a few others showing interest.
When Marcelus isn't out working on his game, he's taking in movies, going fishing, spending time with his friends and listening to the likes of D-12 in his CD player.