Levi Kemp was averaging 11.8 points on 8.3 shots per game through Indy's first four games and Indy went 0-4. Since then he is taking three less shots, averaging four less points, but the Bulldogs have gone 9-3.
Levi Kemp was averaging 11.8 points on 8.3 shots per game through Indy's first four games and Indy went 0-4. Since then he is taking three less shots, averaging four less points, but the Bulldogs have gone 9-3.

Levi Kemp can be whatever you need him to be. Even though he stands right about six-feet tall and isn't overly bulky, he can get inside and rebound as he is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game on the year.

He can be a great distributor if he wants to be as he already has an eight assist game on the season and leads the Independence Bulldogs with 3.1 assists per game on the season.

And he can score if you want him to as he is third on the team in scoring and has scored in double figures six times this season.

But more than anything Kemp simply wants to see his team win and whatever his head coach Marcus Lanning needs him to be to do that, he can be that.

Coming into the 2016-17 season Lanning needed a scorer. He needed someone that could get to the basket, play defense and help Indy in the transition over from last season where they lost more than 60 percent of their scoring on the year.

Through Indy's first four games Kemp averaged 11.8 points per game and gave Indy a chance to win.

He was asked to do a lot as he was taking nearly 10 shots a game and was asked to defend one of the best, if not the best, offensive players from every team Indy faced.

He had a lot on his shoulders early in the year and played that role very well.

"At the beginning of the year we didn't really know what to expect," the senior guard said after Friday night's win over Girard. "We lost Jalynn (Lawrie) last year who was our main scorer, so someone had to play his role, I decided to take that role."

Indy did start their season 0-4, but that had very little to do with what Kemp was doing. He was scoring, but he was also rebounding as he had 25 rebounds through his first four games in addition to 13 assists.

Not to mention the fact he made it to the free throw line 29 times through the first four which got opponents in foul trouble and gave Indy some much needed rest as they were really searching for depth in the early going.

But in playing as well as he did, even in four losses, it gave Indy the confidence going forward that they could start to win games. They lost three of their first four games by a combined seven points including one in double overtime.

At that point it's very easy to look and say if one or two things go differently Indy would start to win games.

And start to win games they did. Since starting 0-4 Indy has gone 9-3 in their last 12 games with wins over the No. 7 team in 4A Division II in Burlington and No. 10 in 4A Division II in Girard, both on their home courts.

And all it took to start winning those games was a little bit of improvement from a couple of players. Since going 0-4 freshman Davion Lewis has averaged 17.3 points while sophomore Zeadric Daniels has averaged 12.5 after averaging a little more than eight through the first four.

Kemp, as a result, has taken a step back. He is averaging about three points less, and taking nearly three shots less as well.

But make no mistake, his impact is not diminished, it's just different on the court.

As mentioned before, when Indy needs a scorer he scores, when they need a rebounder he rebounds, and when they need a defender he defends.

He showed off all three of those things Friday night. After scoring in double figures just once in his last six games Kemp scored 10 points through the first three quarters when Indy was having a lot of trouble scoring. And he did it efficiently going 4-4 from inside the arc, with the only miss he had on a desperation three at the end of the first quarter.

Then with Davion Lewis out with foul trouble in the first half, Kemp was all over the boards. He finished the game with a team-high eight rebounds.

And then in the final moments when Indy needed a stop with eight seconds left up one and Girard with the possession, Kemp forced a deflection that resulted in a jump ball and the ball back to the Bulldogs.

Marcus Lanning needed everything Friday night and Kemp gave him every bit of it.

"Every one of our guys is very unselfish," Lanning said after the win. "There's times where somebody's taking the shot but they're like 'OK, if you're going to shoot it, I'm going to go rebound it.'

"The key is just making sure if I get the ball to shoot it or make sure I'm getting open or my job is to get the ball inside and they're doing a good job with their roles."

Everyone has done a great job with their roles in Indy's current hot streak. They are now back on the winning track after taking a loss to Pittsburg Tuesday night, and they did so by once again filling their roles well with a win over Girard.

Kemp in particular is very easy to see that in going back to that one play, that one deflection.

He had actually just missed a free throw which would have given Indy a more comfortable lead and it would have been very easy to get down on himself.

But he didn't do that. He stayed aggressive on defense and forced the turnover that all but ended the game.

It was a gutsy play but one that he knew he needed to make, and one that in the moment might have made his head coach a little nervous, but after seeing it all play out he was more than fine with.

“The first thing I did when he went for that ball I saw that he had two guys behind them and that it was OK if he did miss it because we had somebody to help,” Lanning said. “You don’t want to give them open shots there, but you know what, I’ll take our defense any day to stop somebody from making it to the basket to win.”

Playing defense is one of the most humbling things a player can do. Mainly because most teams don't track deflections, or defense off the ball, or pushing through screens.

There is no glory in defense apart from steals and blocks, and had no one been there to cover the game Friday night his deflection in the final seconds would have gone unnoticed.

But Kemp's year has gone mostly unnoticed after those first four games because of the emergence of Lewis and Daniels, but that has not lessened his impact on the game, it just may have lessened his appearance in the box score.

But as Lanning said before, his entire senior class is more than willing to step into their roles and make this team better. Kemp has made this team better even if he's not scoring 15 points a game.

"When we brought Davion in and Zeadric started stepping up I realized that I can do better things than take a lot of shots," Kemp said. "I can pass the ball a lot better, and I've always been known for defense rather than offense anyway."

Well he may be known for defense, but what he really needs to be known for is just being a good basketball player.

He is third on the team in scoring, second in rebounds, first in assists, third in steals and fourth in blocks.

He shoots better than 70 percent from the free throw line and doesn't take three-pointers knowing that it's not his strength.

He plays within himself and makes his teammates better, but he'll never acknowledge that he did much of anything. Someone else has to do it for him, hopefully we can do a little bit of that today.

But even as well as he plays he is much more concerned with his team winning, and right now the Bulldogs are winning an awful lot. That is what is most important right now to Kemp.

“When we’re clicking we are a very good team,” Kemp said after Indy’s win Friday night. “We’ve got the talent and we definitely have the work ethic.

“I personally think we work harder than anyone else in our league, just in practice and the game, we hustle non-stop, so if we come out and we just play exactly how we know we can play, besides Bishop Miege, we can either beat or hang with anyone.”