Dunking freshman Taevion Kinsey is a high flier for Thundering Herd
HUNTINGTON — Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s not Superman. It’s Taevion Kinsey.
Marshall University’s freshman high flier brought an impressive dunking resume to the Thundering Herd men’s basketball program.
His ability to soar and slam gained national attention during an August practice in the Marshall Recreation Center before a Herd trip to the Bahamas. Aligned at midcourt on the right sideline, Kinsey took three dribbles and went airborne. He turned his back to the rim, put the basketball through his legs and completed the move facing the basket with a right-handed jam that earned ESPN “SportsCenter” airtime Aug. 22 on “Top 10 Plays of the Day.”
“That’s instant wow,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said.
Kinsey is a 6-foot-5, 177-pound guard from Columbus who jumps out of the gym.
In one of Marshall’s exhibition games against a team from the Bahamas he scooped up a loose basketball, took it to the rim and dunked in the face of an opposing player.
The 18-year-old was on an Ohio All-Star team in April on a tour of Italy for the Junior International Tournament. He put on Dr. J jersey and performed a dunk that even former Philadelphia 76ers player Julius Erving would be proud of. Erving was considered one of the game’s all-time best dunkers. Kinsey stationed two players — one 7-foot-5, the other 6-10 — in front of the goal and leaped over them both to dunk.
He regularly puts on a jamfest at Marshall practices before the Herd gets down to serious work.
“He’s very athletic,” Marshall senior teammate Rondale Watson
said. “He’ll have a lot of highlights this year.”
Dunking just comes naturally to the 2018 Columbus Eastmoor Academy graduate who didn’t dunk until his sophomore year.
“I couldn’t really touch the rim, but I always used to try,” he said. “Then, my sophomore year, I started dunking. My freshman year I was 5-10 coming into school and then my sophomore year I was like 6-foot and then after that I shot to like 6-3. Then my senior year I grew 2 inches and became 6-5.
“It was just something I thought was fun, so I would go in the gym and try different things.”
Ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound worked for Superman, but Kinsey said he also has the advantage of extremely long arms that help him touch his knees without bending over.
D’Antoni considers dunking a big part of basketball, especially when it gets the home crowd fired up. He also said dunks are explosive plays that the whole team reacts to. He likes seeing players dunk in transition off steals or rebounds.
“In your place (gym) it stands them (fans) up; in their place, it sits them down,” he said.
The Herd has other dunkers, but maybe not on the same level as Kinsey. D’Antoni mentioned 6-8 Mikel Beyers, 6-6 Cam Brooks Harris, 6-9 Jannson Williams and 6-10 Iran Bennett as players who can also ignite crowds.
Kinsey was an Ohio Division II all-state second team selection as an Eastmoor senior who averaged 19.5 points per game while shooting 60 percent from the field, connecting on 39 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts and making 69 percent at the foul line.
In three summer exhibition games against Bahamian competition he had averages of 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Taller and better jumpers await Kinsey on the NCAA Division I level, and he’s anxious to test himself.
Kinsey said he s not afraid to dunk in games because he rarely misses them, and being able to elevate like he does is an advantage.
“It allows me to play above the rim like some other guys,” Kinsey said. “When I got to college I thought everybody would be able to jump like me. It still helps me raise my game to where if I need to get to the rim and its a bigger guy (defending) I can meet him at the rim and its a challenge from there.”