116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It seems like Kenzie Reed has been around Cedar Rapids Kennedy basketball forever.
Four years on varsity is unusual, especially at the Class 4A level. You’ve watched the kid grow on the court: improve his shooting, use his ball skills, quickness and vision to become one of the better true point guards around.
You’ve noticed how he has grown up, period, no longer uncomfortable in interviews, eager to chat you up.
“We expect to get back to the state tournament,” Reed said flatly, when asked the other day about his team’s 2022-23 expectations. “We want to win the championship, that’s what all the guys’ goals are. That’s what we’ve been working for since basketball season ended last year. So that’s what we want.”
How realistic does he feel that is?
“It’s a clear sight. I can see it happening,” Reed said, without hesitation. “Me and that guy over there, we’re going to do big things this year. We’re about to be the best backcourt Kennedy has ever seen. I’m telling you that.”
The guy Reed was pointing to was teammate, classmate Colby Dolphin. The excitement surrounding these Cougars begins with those two guys.
Definitely they are among the best guard tandems in the state. Reed is a returning first-team all-stater in 4A, Dolphin a returning second-teamer.
They play off of each other expertly.
“They are on the same page, which is always a good start,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “And they complement each other. Kenzie can get to the rim as good as anybody, and Colby can space the floor. So their strengths are different, but they need each other to be as successful as they are.”
Dolphin averaged a team-best 14 points per game and shot 40 percent from 3-point range as Kennedy went 21-4 and qualified for the state tournament, losing to champion Ames in the semifinals. Reed averaged 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc.
They’re not big, Dolphin checking in at 6 foot and Reed at 5-10, but that’s the only potential knock here.
“Kenzie is just a natural point guard,” Dolphin said. “He’s a great leader, knows how to distribute the ball, knows how to score. He can really break a guy down one on one. It’s just easier to work off a guy who can do all that.”
“We’ve just got great chemistry together,” Reed said. “He’s the ideal off guard you could ask for. He doesn’t miss open shots. He can play defense, he’s consistent. Nothing but praise for him.”
There are others around that makes the return-to-state, make-a-deep-run-at-state talk not hyperbole. Junior Cyrus Courtney is an athletic wing and an integral piece, as is senior guard Carter Newhouse, who adds another guy who can shoot the 3-ball.
Kennedy’s sophomore team lost just once last season, that in the regular-season finale, so you know there is potential help there. Watch for the coach’s son, Trey, to play a lot at guard.
“They spent all offseason working hard. Six days a week, five days a week,” Coach McKowen said, after Wednesday afternoon scrimmages against Cedar Rapids Xavier and Iowa City West. “They were in here before school, after school, they were wearing out the shooting gun. And they were in here together. I’ve had kids who come in by themselves, but this group ... It’s been just like this. They just played for 2 1/2 hours and a bunch of them are still here.”
“You definitely have pressure after what we did last year,” Dolphin said. “But you want to have those expectations if you’re a good team. If you are a good team, you want the mark set high for you.”
By the way, Reed recently made his college decision, verbally committing to Division II Upper Iowa. The Peacocks are coached by Brooks McKowen, Jon’s brother.
Reed said he contemplated waiting to see if there would be any D-I offers come his way, but after talks with his mother, father and grandmother, he decided being close to home was important. As was, he claimed, being able to eat regularly at The Servery restaurant in Fayette, the first Mongolian grill on a college campus.
“I’m already familiar with the (McKowen) family, I know a lot of guys up at that school,” he said. “It’s pretty close for my family to go up there and watch me. But what really got me is they’ve got, like, a HuHot-like grill in the cafeteria. It’s great. I’m going to live in there.”
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