- Jackie Benitez Leaving Siena
- Siena Beats Monmouth: What Happened At Half Time?
- Postgame Comments Following Siena Semifinal Win Over Monmouth
- Siena Marches Into MAAC Semifinal With Win Over Fairfield
- Postgame Comments Following Siena Win Over Fairfield
- MAAC Tourney Preview: #4 Siena vs. #5 Fairfield
- MAAC Tourney Preview: #4 Siena Women vs. #5 Iona
- All MAAC Teams Announced
- Men’s and Women’s MAAC Championship Brackets
- Siena Tops Marist On Senior Day
Siena’s Kinnon LaRose Works To Prove He Belongs
- Updated: August 11, 2015
For Siena freshman Kinnon LaRose, success has not come easy. Hailing from the small town of Ogdensburg, NY, located along the St. Lawrence River on the border with Canada, getting the opportunity to play Division I basketball is rare to say the least. In fact when Siena coach Jimmy Patsos offered LaRose the opportunity to play for the Saints, he became the first Northern Athletic Conference player in 37 years to earn an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship. It took a lot to get him there.
LaRose rewrote all kinds of records at Ogdensburg Free Academy. He averaged 30.2 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals a game as a senior on his way to setting the OFA career scoring record (1,769), the season mark at 756 points and the single-game record at 51. He also set the career and single-season 3-point mark at 209 and 83 and the single-season and career record in steals with 94 and 248.
For his efforts, LaRose was named a finalist for the state Gatorade Player of the Year and New York’s Mr. Basketball. But, despite all of that, he had not compiled the list of DI offers that one might think.
“It was kind of crazy because I was going to go to prep school for a year and then graduate in 2016,” said LaRose. ”But, then Siena came along. I was like, I could wait it out a little bit and see what happens but they came to a couple of my games and I played well. That really helped.”
Siena was familiar to LaRose as he recalls watching many of their games on Time Warner with his dad and making the trip to the Time Union Center to watch the Saints live on occasion.
“It’s relatively local,” LaRose said. ”It’s still 4 hours but it’s close to home. I’ve known Siena my whole life and when Coach Patsos contacted me, he made it clear that they wanted me and they needed a three-point shooter. I can fill that role a little bit. Just help the team any way I can.”
While rewriting history up in Section 10, LaRose knew he would have to do more to elevate his game, while proving he belonged playing at the next level. Over a two-year span, he was able to do just that competing with the Albany-based City Rocks AAU program.
“It helped me a lot,” recalls LaRose. ”It helped me to get my shot off quicker and play against better people. A lot of people say the kids I played against (in high school) aren’t the greatest and that’s true. Playing with City Rocks really helped me and showed people that I can play against higher competition. Thank you to Jim Hart (City Rocks president), ’cause he really helped me.”
Attending the summer session in Loudonville, LaRose welcomed the opportunity to spend time on campus and to get a taste of the college game. He is confident that he is adjusting well.
“The guys are just bigger and stronger. I’m getting used to the pace. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I can play with these guys. All the freshmen can play. We’re just gonna push each other and help the team out any way we can.”
If early reports are any indication, LaRose may be just the shooter Patsos was looking for as he can really knock it down. He describes what Saints fans can look forward to when he steps on the court.
“They can expect knocking down the three here or there, getting in somebody’s face, yelling, screaming and getting a stop, diving on the floor, just hard-working, never getting out-worked by anybody,” describes LaRose.
“Kinnon has outworked everyone, that is why is playing basketball at Siena College….,” OFA’s head coach Mark Henry told the Watertown Daily Times. “Even with all of his scoring records, he still is one of the most unselfish players I have ever coached.”
As a team player, LaRose likes what he sees from this year’s Siena squad.
“It’s been great so far,” said LaRose. ”I’ve been having a lot of fun. The guys on the team are great. We have a good chemistry going already. Coach Patsos talks to us about having good chemistry and that will lead to good things and championships. I just can’t wait for school to start and basketball to get going.”
LaRose is also enjoying playing for Coach Patsos.
“He cares about his players and he does a lot of different things which I liked,” LaRose said. ”He’s just a passionate guy. All the coaches, they’re really into it. They’ll get on you but you know they’re just trying to help us.”
“He says he only has two rules, Play Hard and Have Fun,” continued LaRose. ”That’s basically it. He cares about the players a lot. He’ll get on you but at the end of the day he just wants you to succeed. He doesn’t hold any grudges. If you make a mistake he’ll get on you and coach you through it but next time you’ll just do it better.”
Off the hardwood, LaRose also established himself as a standout on the baseball diamond. A right-handed pitcher and solid shortstop, LaRose batted .519 as a senior and set school records with 40 hits and 34 RBIs. He also connected for five doubles, five triples and one home run on his way to earning All-North MVP honors in baseball to go along with the same award he grabbed in basketball.
“I play baseball,” LaRose says modestly. ”I don’t know if I’m gonna play with Siena or not but Coach Patsos told me if I wanted to I could. It could be an option. I also fish and do schoolwork. That’s about it.”
For now, LaRose will continue to work over the summer on improving his game on the court. He explains his areas of focus to prepare for the upcoming season.
“Definitely getting stronger,” said LaRose. ”Improving my defense and getting more flexible so I can get lower. Getting used to the speed of the game.”
He is familiar enough with Siena to know he has a lot to look forward to over his career as a Saint.
“The fans here are great,” LaRose said. ”It’s a small school and the community really backs you up on basketball and all the sports here. I’m pretty familiar with most of the region down here. I’ve been down here basically for the last two years. This has been my home with the City Rocks.”
Like the rest of his team mates, LaRose is excited to kick off the season against the defending National Champions on November, 13.
“It’s crazy. When I was younger I was a Duke fan growing up. I went to the Duke Basketball Camp in Durham so I’ve been there once but to go there and play an actual game on the Division I level in front of everybody in the nation basically, it’s amazing.”
Finally, LaRose is focused on doing whatever he can to help the Saints achieve their goals as a team.
“The goal would be to win the MAAC Championship again and get to the NCAA Tournament and probably make some noise there too,” LaRose said. ”I think we have a good shot.”
Kinnon LaRose is the second player to play for Siena from Ogdensburg. Mike Seymour is a 1970 graduate of Siena and a member of the Siena Athletics Hall of Fame. He averaged double digits in points in all three seasons of his career with a high average of 19.4 points per game in the 1968-69 season. For his career, Seymour averaged 16.2 points for a total of 1,121.
In case you missed it, here is a congratulations video following LaRose’s commitment to Siena featuring Rick Carlisle, head coach of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Carlisle, who played in the NAC in high school, is a good friend of Kinnon’s father Steve. Also making an appearance, Mav’s owner Mark Cuban.