North Summit High School star Kennady McQueen, arguably the best basketball player to come from Summit County, will suit up for Utah next season
Life at the McQueen household in Henefer has always been competitive.
Growing up as the youngest of three kids, Kennady McQueen, 18, is used to overcoming the odds to accomplish her goals. Whether that be winning a game of one-on-one against her older siblings or playing collegiate basketball, the North Summit girls basketball standout has also had that drive, determination and competitiveness to be successful.
But one would think that as she got older, the competitive fire between her and her siblings Haylee, 23, and Keegan, 27, would begin to subside.
Well, that’s only partially correct.
“I’ve been playing games with my siblings since I can remember, and they were always insanely competitive. … Which is why I think it’s a part of who I am today,” Kennady said. “But now as we are older, I think we are closer than ever before because our relationship has grown more, like we have. But if you still put us in any game, whether it’s basketball or a board game, it could still get ugly and competitive.”
Growing up in that sort of household, one with what Kennady called a “perfect” combination of love, support and competition is one of the main reasons why she’s found so much success in basketball at North Summit. She’s the top women’s basketball recruit in the state of Utah and one of the best players in the country, checking in at No. 58 as a four-star prospect in ESPN’s Top 100.
“I’ve been in the county for 20 years and I don’t think there’s any question that she’s one of the best, if not the best, basketball player to ever come out of Summit County,” said Jerre Holmes, North Summit basketball coach. “Everyone knows her skillset and how talented she is as a player, but what sets her apart is that she was able to balance scoring and accomplishing her personal goals with being a great teammate and one of the girls.”
Following the completion of her senior year in which she averaged 20.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 4.4 steals per game, she was named the Utah girl’s Gatorade State Player of the Year, the first player from Summit County to receive the prestigious award.
Kennady is now following in the collegiate footsteps of Keegan, who played basketball for the University of Montana Western Bulldogs, and her mother Melanee, who suited up for Runnin’ Utes in the late 80s.
This winter, she’ll play at the University of Utah for women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts, being the top incoming recruit for the Utes’ 4-person class ranked 20th in the country.
“I have been so impressed with how she has developed into one of the best players in the country,” Roberts said. “She is the type of player you don’t want to play against because she is competitive, athletic and can flat-out shoot the ball.”
Staying close to home to play her college basketball should come as no surprise to those who know her, or who have played against her over the past couple of years.
Kennady openly bleeds for North Summit and her home community, something that she believes has further developed that competitive fire that she has within herself. Throughout her time on the AAU circuit with Colorado Premier, Kennady consistently went up against girls who openly mocked her about her small hometown, believing that she wasn’t worthy enough to be on the same court as them.
But that only fueled her more, and she made sure those thoughts never arose again.
“I definitely take a lot of crap being from a small school. … And especially since I’m not much of a talker, I try to let my game do it for me,” Kennady said. “They might not think I’m good enough, but without having to say a word, they know I am by the time I leave the court.”
That pride in her hometown is why she decided to stay at North Summit all four years of high school to try to win a state championship. She turned down multiple opportunities to leave the Braves and attend some of the more prestigious private/charter schools in the country.
“Growing up in tiny Henefer makes it much harder to get noticed from a basketball standpoint, that’s for sure,” Kennady said. “I mean, how many people from Class 2A have left for bigger high schools? I didn’t want to do that. … I wanted to prove that a kid from a small town can still make it big.”
Despite leaving her small town for the bright lights of the Pac-12 and Salt Lake City, there’s very little chance that Kennady loses that proverbial chip on her shoulder.
“Whenever anything we did had a winner or a loser, she flat out refused to lose. … She’d always been highly competitive and willing to do something about it, and that’s what makes her different,” Holmes said. “We all get mad when we lose, but what’s different about her is that she was willing to pay the price in time and physical effort to make it happen. She gave up a lot of things to do what she did and that’s translated to a chip on her shoulder.”
One story that Kennady tells that depicts that fire inside of her came against, of all people, Haylee during a seemingly meaningless game of one-on-one last year.
In the end it came down to the last bucket and Haylee drove to the hoop, where Kennady met her. Depending on who you talk too, it was either a clean block (Kennady) or a foul (Haylee), but it resulted in Haylee on the ground in pain crying with an elbow injury, one that still gives her problems to this day.
While the compassion from Kennady is there as she feels bad for what happened, that competitive fire takes over as she’s adamant it was a clean block.
“I swear I didn’t even touch her. … I promise it wasn’t a foul and it was such a sick block,” Kennady says while laughing. “I mean I still do feel bad about it, but there was no way I wasn’t going to let her score easy. And my parents agree with me about the no foul.”
If she’s not willing to give Haylee the easy bucket, imagine what she’s going to do be doing to the rest of the Pac-12 over the next four years?
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It wasn’t easy, but the Miners dispatched Region 8 rival Salem Hills in five sets on Wednesday, earning momentum heading into the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.