Over a year ago, Shawn Kemp woke up early on school morning and made his way to an early morning workout at his Cherokee (Ga.) High School for a college coach who was in town to see him play.
Kemp won't deny it, the workout was a comedy of errors. He didn't know how to jump off the right foot, he fumbled the ball more than he should and even in just a two-man workout, things just weren't going the way they were supposed to go.
Fast forward to current day and those days are long gone. He's no longer the kid just with good height and good genes. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound center is climbing the ladder of improvement. Kemp says the reason is because his life has become simplified to books and basketball.
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Kemp credits his steady improvement to the work with his AAU coach Desmond Eastmon and high school coach Roger Kvam.
"I'm in the gym with Desmond, he's teaching me a lot of stuff that I'm putting to use. I've gotten way better than where I was with post moves. I'm showing it now," Kemp said. "He shows me things that I've never even worked on before. He makes me work on my shot, my outside shot. I'm getting better in a lot of ways."
"Coach Kvam has changed me, too. I really couldn't play basketball. When I came to Cherokee, he just got me in the gym and we've worked out all the time. He's turned me into what I am now."
Kemp says he'll find himself laughing at the journey he's been on over the last couple of years.
"Yeah, [I think about it] all the time," Kemp said. "Two or three years ago, I couldn't even get a dunk in a game. Now I'm getting two or three a game."
The work isn't over. He knows that. But the signs of major improvement and big time potential have shined through.
"I've got to get better at shooting good shots, playing defense in the post and things like that. I need to work out and get bigger so I can be seen out there," Kemp said. "Sometimes people look at me and think they can push me around so I need to change that."
His recruitment has evolved just like his game has. There has been a constant barrage of coaches coming out to see him play.
"Coaches were calling and coming up to the school every other day. It makes you want to get better," Kemp said.
Kemp said he has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Marquette and Ole Miss while Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee are in the picture.
"I'm going to have a top five by the end of the summer. I'm just trying to get through school and the whole AAU thing," Kemp said. "I'm looking for a great coach, someone who is going to be able to teach me things. Good academics are going to be important to. A good coach is the main thing…I'm wide open."