Incoming Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler had himself quite the productive summer, as his Team USA squad went undefeated in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and brought home the gold medal in the process.
“For me to win the gold medal was a huge dream come true for me,” said Chandler when he spoke with the Knoxville media on Wednesday. “I was really excited to play for my country and win the gold medal.”
Chandler was able to have his parents in attendance as well, which in his words made the whole event that much more memorable.
“It was special,” Chandler exclaimed with a big smile. “My parents were in the back watching me. I was telling them not to come!”
Chandler tried to hold back some laughter as he explained that thought further.
“I didn’t feel like they needed to come because I really didn’t see them until that night the whole time they were down there,” Chandler continued on to say. “But for them to be there, and them to watch me knowing they couldn’t see me until the last day, it was a special moment.”
Chandler’s Team USA squad played in seven games in Latvia and won all seven. The American U19 team looked dominant as college basketball’s next young stars shined on the court.
Tennessee’s five-star guard averaged 7.7 points per game in the tournament. He tied Patrick Baldwin Jr. for the fifth-most points per game despite only being put in the starting lineup once.
“When I first came onto the court for Team USA, I came off the bench,” Chandler said. “My first mindset was to find my open teammates. That’s a mindset I have even if I’m starting while trying to get everyone involved. That’s what builds chemistry and keeps everyone going.”
Chandler’s work to involve his teammates has been noticeable in every level of his game. But it was especially on display for Team USA.
The Tennessee guard’s ability to orchestrate the offense forced him to stay on the court. Chandler finished the tournament with the fourth-most minutes played for Team USA.
“For me, communicating,” Chandler responded when asked what single skill he could translate from Team USA to Tennessee upon his arrival.
Kennedy Chandler will be tasked with some big responsibilities upon his arrival to Tennessee. However, the former five-star has every ability lined up to be able to succeed.
“We have great players, great teammates,” Chandler said to the Knoxville media. “Once we get out there on the court for our first game, figure out what we like to do and how to play with each other, I feel like we are going to be a great team.”
As Tennessee looks to gear up for the 2021-2022 basketball season, Kennedy Chandler can’t help but smile upon his experience with Team USA.
“Once I got that medal I was like, ‘I did it,’” Chandler said. “It was a dream come true. I write all my dreams down. I wrote it at home, everything I want to do. So for me to check that off the list, it’s crazy that I won a gold medal for my team. And now I get to come back home and get back together with Tennessee. It was a special moment.”
Be sure to check out the full interview on Rocky Top Insider’s Youtube page here.