With $2 million and an opportunity to repeat as The Basketball Tournament champions on the line, former St. John's studs D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne helped Overseas Elite defeat Team Colorado, 77-72, at Rose Hill Gym on the campus of Fordham University.
Thanks to Kennedy's aggressiveness on both ends of the floor and Horne's defensive effort, Overseas Elite was able to overcome a 20-point first half deficit.
Kennedy finished with 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds and four steals, while Horne dropped nine points on 2-of-6 shooting, grabbed two rebounds and dished out three assists.
But both players had an impact on the game that went beyond just their stat line.
Kennedy was the catalyst for Overseas Elite and was the best player on the floor (and possibly in the entire tournament). He came into the final averaging 20 points and 10 boards, made the All-Tournament team, and had a monster performance in last year's title game, when he had 22 points and hit the game winning free throws.
On Tuesday night, the offense ran through the forward, who attacked the defense and the rim at will, using his strong frame and physical mentality. Kennedy hit a wild layup attempt to give Overseas Elite a five point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining.
On top of his elite offensive performance in the second half, Kennedy had a monster chase down block (it wasn't quite LeBron-like but got the job done), made a couple of smart passes that led to easy buckets, and was highly impactful on the glass.
Horne's value showed up in a different way. He is the most versatile defender on their roster, and was lock down on that end of the floor, not only in the final, but all throughout the entire tournament.
Kennedy had a four year career at St. John's (2007-2011), but was unable to play in the team's lone NCAA Tournament appearance during those seasons (2011) due to a knee injury. He finished the 2010-11 year as the team's second leading scorer (just over 10 points a game), and capped his college career as the 12th all-time scorer in program history.
He went undrafted, had multiple stints in the D-League and has played overseas since. He is currently a free agent, so there is no doubt this performance over the last few weeks is a huge development in terms of landing his next contract.
Horne played with Kennedy on St. John's from 2007 to 2011. However, he was able to compete in the team's first round loss to Gonzaga in the Big Dance in 2011. Horne averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game during that final season.
He has been a member of Büyükçekmece Basketbol of the Turkish League since 2013.
Kennedy and Horne are headed home as richer men after Tuesday night. Both players will receive $174,000 for capitalizing on their roles, coming up clutch down the stretch and not giving up when overcoming a major deficit seemed to be inconceivable.