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Nov. 30, 2004

Spotlight on Denesha Kenion

by Cathy Bongiovi Stewart

Growing up in a big family certainly has its advantages. Freshman Denesha Kenion, the middle of Jimmie and Delois Kenion’s five children, can attest to that. Basketball became a part of her life at an early age.

“I got started when I was eight. I used to play with my brothers a lot,” Kenion said. “We’d go outside and just shoot all night until midnight. My mother had to tell me to come in the house and go to bed.”

Luckily for the Cavaliers, Kenion’s persistence and drive have brought her to Charlottesville for collegiate basketball. Her father played basketball at Winston-Salem State.

A 5-9 guard from Oxon, Md., Kenion played point guard, shooting guard and small forward in high school. She will add depth to Virginia’s shooting guards.

“Denesha is a very athletic 2-3 player who is one of the best penetrators I’ve ever seen,” head coach Debbie Ryan said. “She will add a lot of athleticism to our team.”

After four games, Kenion has already contributed to UVa’s success. She’s averaging 2.3 points and 1.0 assists in 13.0 minutes per game. The true freshman made her debut in the starting line-up in the home opener win over Delaware State on Nov. 23. But the first time she stepped onto the court in a UVa uniform was an awesome experience.

“It felt good,” Kenion said. “I was a little confused and nervous, but it felt good. I had to really get into the flow of the game. I really liked it, and I’m looking forward to playing more.”

But success is not new to Kenion. A two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American, she was named All-Metro Washington D.C. in 2003 and honorable mention in 2002. Kenion was a two-time team MVP and four-time first-team All-County honoree. As a senior, she won Coach’s Award and was named Defensive Player of the Year for the third time. The honor roll student also averaged 14 points, five assists, and five steals per game while leading Oxon Hill to the 2003 high school final four as a junior.

When she had to make her decision which college to attend, Kenion wanted a school that had the best of both worlds.

“I picked UVa, because it’s a good school athletically and academically,” the guard shared. “I’m trying to get a good education and pursue my basketball career, too.”

Undecided upon a major, Kenion hopes to choose between the sports medicine and communications/television broadcasting fields.

With influence from her family and her teammates, Kenion credits her father for encouraging her.

“He’s really stuck by me and pushed me to do my best and go for my goals,” Kenion said. “He’s really been hard on me, but it’s been good though. He’s really been the main person who’s been by my side the whole time.”

While adjusting to college life can be difficult, Kenion feels adjusting to her new team has been the biggest challenge for her this fall.

“Adjusting to different people from different areas and different styles of play has been a big adjustment,” she shared. “We all have to come together and click as one unit and to be the best. That’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

And it seems to be working. The Cavaliers have won three consecutive games and are looking forward to the challenging ACC schedule.

“My goals for this year are to win the ACC, go to the Final Four, and win the whole thing,” Kenion revealed.


Food: Fried chicken & steak
Ice cream: Vanilla with caramel
Color: Black, blue & silver
WNBA Team: New York Liberty
Actor: Omar Epps
Actress: Angela Bassett
TV Show: Martin
Children’s Book: Green Eggs & Ham
Cartoon: Scooby-Doo
Reality Show: Fear Factor

My favorite way to stay in shape during the off-season is …
to run on the track at least three times a
week and shoot at least 1,000 shots a day.

My advice to a young athlete is …
follow your dreams and
never let anyone get in the way
of what’s going to better your future.

The person I admire most is …
my father, because he’s stuck by me
every step of the way
and pushed me to be the best I can.

I admire Debbie Ryan, because …
she cares a lot about you and your mind.
She’s a great person on and off the court.

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