By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONVILLE – Kenny Paul Geno remembers the first time he dunked a basketball.
“Old gym, Christmas break of ninth grade year, in practice,” Geno said. “We were in there practicing. I think I had a fast break, I just jumped up there and jammed it. From then on, it was just natural.”
Geno has made a lot of people remember a lot more dunks since then. The emotional 6-foot-6 high flyer is the 2012-13 Journal Player of the Year. Biggersville junior Daniel Simmons was also considered for the award.
Geno is spending the first few weeks of this offseason deciding where to play his college ball. He visited Jacksonville State, Georgia, Union and Middle Tennessee State in the last two weeks and has had recent workouts with Georgia and Troy.
His dunks became legend, an-elbow-above-the-rim putback against Shannon at Baldwyn in December, a perfectly-placed alley-oop from Jack Nichols at the state tournament.
“Sometimes you know you’re going to get hammered,” Geno said. “You just try to get to the rim with force and try to put it on them.”
His seven scholarship offers include Middle Tennessee State, Jacksonville State, Union, Mercer, Radford, Lamar and Delta State.
Geno averaged 22.9 points and 13.8 rebounds per game this season. After guards Keldrick Lesley and Darius Leach graduated, Geno quickly built a rapport with 2013 newcomer and alley oop partner Nichols and led Booneville to a third straight Class 3A state title game.
Booneville coach Michael Smith said Geno’s game and role have changed since that first dunk, his willing versatility a big asset at Bonneville and on the next level.
“This year he had to do a lot more movement and take on a lot of different roles,” Smith said. “He did a really good job in all of it.”
Geno’s family-infused height spurted between his eighth and ninth grade year. KPG and Booneville grew in prominence together. That first dunk may have reinvented his game but it was a shocking win in the 2011 North tournament that put him and the Blue Devils on the map.
Booneville beat East Side and current LSU star Johnny O’Bryant en route to a Class 3A championship run. From that moment, neither Geno or his teammates spoke with media, keeping an internal approach that propelled them. He hasn’t lost many games since then.
“We all trust each other a lot,” Geno said. “We trust each other’s shots and if somebody got down, we always picked them up.”
Sport, other than hoops: Football
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