Rebel hoop's signee leads team to Final 4

Kevin Cantinol (C, Clearwater, FL) - The French native that grew up on the Caribbean's island of Martinique moved to Clearwater (FL) after his sophomore season and has had a big impact on his high school team ever since.

Last year Kevin averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds and helped his team to the Regional Finals. This season he took his game up another notch as he averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots a game and led his team to its first Final 4 appearance in school history.

"This year, most of the players found about me, so I could not score as much because I was double and tripled teamed most of time," added Kevin Cantinol. "But I found other ways to help the team, like rebounding and feeding the free man."

There was also another added bonus to Kevin's game.

"I put on around 25 pounds. I was playing at 215 last year, and I worked hard in the offseason to add some muscle, and I am up to 240 now. That helped me fight the triple teams and get some more rebounds. I think it really benefited my game."

Coming over from the Caribbeans was a big change, not only culturally but also the style of basketball.

"It is much more half court over here. I had to adjust. Where I come from, you run and gun the whole game. Over here, it is much more set plays and you bang a lot more. That is why I wanted to put on some weight. I think I know more about the American game now."

Kevin was named to the All-Tournament Team and is waiting on the state rewards to come out.

"I should make some teams, but I really wish we could have won the Final 4. It felt good to finally get there, as our school had never been there before, but it left us feeling empty too. I guess the further you go, the more it hurts when you get put out. I know I feel like I finished my high school career without accomplishing what I wanted to do."

The best game of the year for Kevin came at a good time.

"It was in our District Final. We were playing Oldsman who knocked us out last year. I scored 24 points and 16 rebounds in that game. It was definitely my best game of the year."

Kevin can shoot the deep ball, as he shot 40% from 3 point land this season, but there is still some work to be done in the shooting department.

"I shot 69% from the free throw line, and I want to get that percentage way up. I also want to work on my 8 to 12 foot jumper, and I need to continue to work on my ball handling skills and get a little more strength in my legs. In the SEC, you go up against some real strong guys in the post. I have to keep getting stronger and stronger."

Kevin had a chance to attend the Florida/Ole Miss game and watched a few more of their games on TV.

"I think Ole Miss has a good team and the coach knows what he is doing. At Florida, they were down by 20 at half-time, and they never gave up. I was really impressed by that."

Ole Miss' turnaround from last to first in the SEC West this year has also impressed Kevin.

"I was really surprised they did so good this year after losing the past few seasons. That tells me that I was right in my decision to sign with Ole Miss and Coach Kennedy. I am real excited about playing at that high of a level. I think it will be really challenging but I am ready for it."

He also believes Ole Miss' style of play fits his game.

"I love to push it up the floor because I can handle it well for a big man, and I am real athletic. I like to penetrate with the ball, and I think Ole Miss' style plays to my strengths. I am real excited about that."

Does Cantinol play with his back to the basket or does he take his man off of the dribble?

"I do both. It all depends on who is guarding me. I can back my opponent down or take him off of the dribble. It is all depends on the situation."

And what are Cantinol's freshman goals?

"Well, the only thing I am hoping to do is play a little bit and try to make the most out of my freshman year. I know they have 4 big men returning with three or four years of experience, so I have to be realistic about things. The year after will probably be my year, but I can learn a lot next season to help prepare myself when it is my turn."

Kevin carries a 3.4 Core GPA / 960 SAT (old format) and is projected as a full qualifier.

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