Kenny Kadji’s Hard Work at IMG Paying Off
Kenny Kadji has been one of college basketball’s most pleasant surprises this season. The six-foot-eleven junior has emerged as a significant contributor for the Miami Hurricanes, averaging 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. After playing limited minutes for the Florida Gators as a freshman and sophomore, Kadji transferred to Miami and now his name is being mentioned in NBA circles.
“I think I’m a versatile player,” Kadji said when asked to describe his game. “I consider myself to be a Lamar Odom-type player, who does a little bit of everything. I can score, rebound and defend multiple positions.”
Kadji has been playing extremely well as of late and was huge in Miami’s win over fifth-ranked Duke. The power forward contributed 15 points and 8 rebounds in the overtime victory and continues to be one of the team’s focal points alongside Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant and Reggie Johnson.
“That was a great win for us, we needed that,” Kadji said. “It was huge, especially doing it on the road. We felt like we could beat them going into the game. While they’re a pretty good team, defensively, they’re not the same team that Duke had before. It was a great win.”
Kadji is a graduate of the IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton, FL. Once he decided to transfer to Miami, the junior returned to Bradenton to work out with IMG’s head trainer Dan Barto for eight weeks.
During the summer, Barto trained NBA players such as Tyrus Thomas, Glen Davis and Shawne Williams. He also trained rookies Iman Shumpert, Jimmy Butler and Julyan Stone as they went through the NBA’s pre-draft process. Kadji worked out with the group and credits Barto and IMG for his breakout season.
“After transferring from Florida, I went back to IMG,” Kadji said. “Coach Dan Barto really helped me out and is the biggest reason [for my improvement]. He took me under his wing and helped me work on my conditioning, shooting, everything. We went back to zero and started all over.”
“I would wake up every day and start conditioning at 9 a.m. Then, I would work out with the pre-draft guys, all of the players who wanted to make it in the NBA Draft. We would work out until 11:30 a.m. and then I’d get something to eat and take a nap. At 4 p.m. I’d come back do more shooting and then do some conditioning on the bike around 5:30 p.m,” Kadji said.
Working out with the group of NBA players motivated Kadji and allowed him to improve all aspects of his game. It also increased his confidence; Duke’s players aren’t as intimidating when you’ve matched up with NBA players all summer.
“It was good for me,” Kadji said. “It showed me what they had to do to get ready for the NBA. Iman Shumpert and Jimmy Butler both went in the first round. Iman was the guy who took the time to talk to me and help me, even though he had to get ready for the draft. He really helped me. If we would be in the middle of a hard workout, I might put my hands on my knees and he’d tell me, ‘Don’t do that, just keep working harder.’ Being around Coach Dan and players like that really helped me. Coach Dan still calls me all the time and he helps me get ready for my next game.”
Kadji put in the hard work to expand his game and become a significant contributor for Miami, but he also had an excellent support system at IMG to help him reach his full potential.
If he continues to perform at this level, he’ll be climbing up NBA draft boards in no time. Good thing he’s familiar with the pre-draft process.