Christmas came a week early for Carroll County’s Mattie Kennedy.
Four days after scoring her 1,000th career point against Cave Spring on Dec. 13, the Cavalier senior verbally committed to play Division I basketball at Presbyterian College of the Big South Conference. During that five-day span, Carroll County also won four games, defeating Cave Spring, Floyd County, Galax and Pulaski.
“It was like a basketball dream come true in a week. It’s exactly how you would want a week to go. It happened to me and I am so fortunate,” Kennedy said. “I’m just excited. I don’t think there’s another word in the English dictionary to describe it.”
Kennedy’s incredible week began Dec. 13 in a 65-53 win over Cave Spring as she became just the fifth girl in school history to score 1,000 career points. An assistant coach from Presbyterian was in attendance that night to see the milestone. The next night, Presbyterian head coach Todd Steelman traveled to Floyd to watch Kennedy’s Cavaliers defeat the Buffaloes 56-48. Then on Saturday morning, Dec. 17, Kennedy received the phone call she’d been waiting for her entire life.
“Coach Steelman called me on Saturday morning and offered me a scholarship. I told him I would call him back, but I called back within 15 minutes. It was a really quick decision,” Kennedy said. “I was in disbelief, complete shock, but I was so excited. He was telling me about their program afterward, but all that was going through my mind was ‘Scholarship, scholarship, I get to play college basketball.’ I was just overjoyed. This is what I have been working for since the second grade.”
Kennedy was named to the VHSL Group 4A All-State team earlier this year after helping lead Carroll County to a 23-5 record, a Conference 24 championship and a berth in the 4A State Tournament. A four-year starter, Kennedy led the Cavs in scoring with 13.6 points per game while also averaging 6.2 rebounds and 4 assists per contest. She also earned first-team All-Conference 24 and All-Region 4A West honors.
As excited as the 5-10 senior is about the opportunity to play Division I basketball, Kennedy said her family is even more ecstatic.
“I called my mom and she was out shopping. I told her Presbyterian offered me a scholarship and she sat down in the middle of mall and cried. She probably looked like a lunatic in middle of mall, but she was so excited,” Kennedy joked. “I told dad and it was disbelief, but we has so excited for me because they have worked just as hard. We sat down the next night and ordered a lot of Presbyterian gear. The whole family has something. I will just be out and my dad will text me randomly, ‘Go Blue Hose.’”
Yes, you heard that right. Presbyterian’s mascot is the Blue Hose. Although PC’s mascot, Scottie the Scotsman, is a medieval Scottish warrior, the Blue Hose name originally referred to the socks worn by the football team in the early 20th century.
“I’ve gotten a little bit of teasing about it at school, but I’m proud to be a Blue Hose,” Kennedy said.
The Carroll senior was set to make a visit to the Clinton, S.C. school on Dec. 22. The college is about three hours away from Hillsville.
“The staff is amazing and I’m excited to go down and see my future home,” Kennedy said. “They are a part of the Big South Conference. They played Gonzaga last year and they went to the Caribbean over Thanksgiving. I can’t wait for all the travel experiences and playing these awesome teams. I am so grateful.”
Kennedy is Carroll County’s Division I girls’ basketball commit since Erin Gibson played at Virginia Tech from 2001-2005. Carroll County head coach Marc Motley thinks Kennedy could play many roles for Presbyterian.
“I think they saw her quite a bit this summer with her AAU team and she doesn’t play point guard with them. She will guard bigs and handle the ball of the offensive end, do a bit of everything. She is one of those versatile kids you could plug into any system and have an opportunity to have success,” Motley said. “What I gather from talking to their head coach, he is new and he is pretty much coaching the hand he was dealt. And now he is looking for players to put his stamp on the program, and that’s where Mattie fits in. I don’t know how much she can play right away, but she is a kid that can do multiple things on floor. She can rebound and play defense and she understands the game so well. She has a lot of upside and can do multiple things for a team, so she may walk in and play a lot.”
But for the time being, things couldn’t be any better for Kennedy.
“This might be your athletic dream week. You play four games, go 4-0, score your 1,000th point and commit to a Division one school,” Motley said. “I don’t know how it gets much better than that.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN