Player after player around the city got scholarship offers this season, while St. Joseph’s Prep senior guards Darius Kinnel and Kyle Thompson waited patiently.
When pen hit paper Wednesday morning as Kinnel and Thompson signed letters of intent to attend Hartford and West Chester, respectively, the wait was finally over.
“It was really a relief,” Kinnel said, “and what made it even better was that we have known each other since we were 12 years old. Our sophomore year we talked about how we wanted to sign with each other, and for everything to come to fruition today really was a great experience.”
The duo, one of the best backcourt tandems in the Catholic League basketball for the past two seasons, led the Hawks to the PCL semifinals at the Palestra this season before falling to eventual champ Roman Catholic.
Thompson, a 6-foot natural scorer with a soft shooting touch, earned second team all-Catholic honors from league coaches as a sophomore, first team as a junior and second team again this season. He averaged 14 points per game in PCL play and led the team with 25 points in the semifinals against Roman.
Few players in the city improved as much as Kinnel, who was on the coaches’ all-Catholic second team as a junior and first team as a senior.
The a 6-foot point guard, had always been a talented player, but after scoring 20-plus points just thrice in PCL play as a junior, Kinnel eclipsed 20 points seven times this year and finished fourth in PCL scoring at 18.9 points per game.
He was quick in short spaces, a blur on the break and adept at finishing in the paint with either hand.
His perimeter shooting both in the the mid-range and behind the 3-point line also vastly improved.
A scholarship offer, however, had eluded him for much of his senior season. It appears his ability to be patient mirrored his progress on the court.
“It was definitely something I had to work on,” Kinnel said.
“Obviously seeing other people around me getting offers, signing and committing had me a little antsy sometimes, but I really just learned that everything works out the way it’s supposed to when you work hard for it, pray on it and do what you’re supposed to do.”