Former St. John’s stars band together to win big prize

Former St. John’s stars band together to win big prize
Photo by Robert Cole
By Laura Amato

Paris Horne didn’t even have to look—he knew D.J. Kennedy was there.

He dished off the pass, set up the shot and suddenly it wasn’t 2016 anymore.

It was 2009 and the former St. John’s teammates were playing basketball at Carnesecca Arena, passing a ball off to one another in a move that was as easy as breathing. Or, at least it felt that way.

For the second straight year the former Red Storm teammates joined forces on the hardwood, competing for Overseas Elite in The Basketball Tournament. And, for the second straight year, the teammates—and friends—found themselves posing with a comically large check after clinching The Basketball Tournament title. Overseas Elite defeated Team Colorado 77-72 at Fordham University Tuesday, grabbing another championship and a $2 million prize.

“It’s always great to play with Paris because I know what he’s going to give me every game,” said Kennedy. “A guy like that, I know I can count on and in a tournament like this you want players you can count on.”

Since graduating from St. John’s in 2011—just a few months after surprise appearance in the NCAA Tournament—Kennedy and Horne have found success on the international circuit.

After a stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kennedy spent several seasons in the D-League and has since played for teams in Israel, Germany and, most recently, Russian squad Yenisey Krasnoyarsk. Horne recently competed in the Japan NBL. And while their careers have forced them to criss-cross the globe, the pair are always grateful for the chance to play in New York—even if it wasn’t Queens.

“It’s great to give them a show,” Kennedy said. “People probably haven’t seen us in a few years. So it’s always great to be back here. It just shows how much we’re still at it.”

The game certainly proved to be worth Kennedy and Horne’s return stateside.

After Team Colorado dominated the first half, Overseas Elite hit its offensive stride in the final 18 minutes, setting a blistering pace as the teams exchanged leads. Horne and Kennedy helped lead the charge, each notching lead-changing buckets and recording their own two-man run in the waning minutes of play.

“It’s just chemistry,” Horne said. “When you know somebody well, even if you’ve been away from each other, you’ve still got the same tendencies. I kind of know where his spots are and he knows where my spots are.”

Horne hit a pair of big-time free throws down the stretch and Kennedy notched a monster block, erasing a possible momentum shift. For good measure, he also hit a pair of free throws with 1:53 left, giving Overseas Elite a lead it would never again surrender.

“There’s $2 million on the line,” said Kennedy, who finished with a team-best 18 points. “You’ve got to put it all on the line. I wasn’t trying to give up any plays and I had a lot of opportunities. I was able to make some big plays for my team.”

The squad kept it dramatic—turning the ball over on a final-second inbounds play—but managed to cap off the comeback and notch another championship.

Before they posed with that check, Horne and Kennedy took a moment for themselves, clapping hands and silently congratulating each other on another victory. The two will go their separate ways—returning to their respective careers—but for a few weeks, it was nice to be teammates again.

“DJ’s like my brother,” Horne said. “We came in as freshman together and we grew for four years. So to play with him again, it’s a blessing.”