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Torn ACL ends St. John's senior D.J. Kennedy's career early

Ryan Greene
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Not only did the Big East tournament run for St. John's get cut short in the quarterfinals on Thursday night, but the fallout from that loss to Syracuse will affect the Red Storm for the rest of the season.

Just a few minutes into the game, senior guard D.J. Kennedy left the game with a right knee injury, never returning in the 79-73 setback.

The school put out a release later in the night announcing that Kennedy would need surgery to repair a torn ACL, ending his college career in agonizingly premature fashion.

"I've wanted to play in the NCAA tournament since I picked up a basketball in grade school, and this is a real blow," he said in the statement. "I am disappointed on a personal level, but I am happy that I will be with my teammates on the road during the tournament, supporting them the way they always support me."

Kennedy endured three sub-par seasons with the Johnnies before helping lead the team to 21 wins to this point in his senior year and an upcoming NCAA tourney at-large berth — the program's first since 2002. He's the Johnnies' third-leading scorer (10.4 ppg), leading rebounder (5.6 rpg) and a dogged defender. With all of that coming in a 6-foot-5 package, it leaves a gaping hole for the Johnnies.

A dark horse to emerge in all of this — if he's ready for it, that is — is 6-foot-7 freshman Dwayne Polee Jr.

Polee certainly has bounce, which makes him a potentially dangerous complementary rebounder to senior forward Justin Burrell and Justin Brownlee. Despite starting 26 of the Red Storm's 32 games this season, he's only averaging 14.7 minutes. He can't quite score from the perimeter as efficiently as Kennedy, but is a good finisher at the rack.

He's averaging 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds, but might now need to get more out of those starts.

The toughest thing to replace is Kennedy's experience, especially considering how often he's come up big in crucial spots for the Johnnies this season. But their wave of seniors behind him softens the blow some, at least.

"This is a tough time to lose both a leader and vital member of our team," St. John's first-year coach Steve Lavin said. "D.J. Kennedy has consistently influenced the game at both ends of the floor throughout our successful season. We will miss his leadership, versatility and experience."

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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