Fort Hood hosted the 2019 All-Army men’s basketball trial camp in May, preparing to compete in the Armed Forces Championship at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, June 1-9.
One Fort Hood Soldier, 2nd Lt. Kennedy Edwards, tried out for the team and was selected for the final roster for the tournament.
Edwards played for the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, men’s basketball team from 2013-2017. As a forward, he averaged 5.6 points and four rebounds in the 27 games he played for the Black Knights his senior year.
After graduating at West Point, the Los Angeles native next found himself at the Great Place, where he now works as a field artillery officer in 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Earlier year, Edwards was invited to the All-Army men’s basketball team’s trial camp, which was hosted at Fort Hood. At the end of the trial camp, Edwards was selected for the final roster to compete in the U.S. Armed Forces Championship tournament.
“It was a great experience, just to be able to set aside military duties for a month ... getting to know different players from different backgrounds,” Edwards said of the experience. “We physically challenged ourselves every single day and that built a lot of mental toughness for us to prepare for the tournament.”
Despite having experience playing organized basketball at high levels, the trial camp wasn’t a cakewalk for the former West Point player.
“The most challenging aspect was conditioning,” he said. “I think we did a lot of running every day.”
At the beginning of the trial camp, there were 18 of the best basketball players from across the U.S. Army vying for a spot on the team’s 12-man roster for the tournament. Each player had to prove every single day that they had something the team needed to be complete.
“I think I brought a lot of resiliency and just a lot of dedication, because basketball is very important to me and I take it very seriously,” Edwards said. “So, showing up every single day, staying focused and paying attention and just giving it my all, giving all my effort to the team and practices.”
All that hard work paid off for Edwards, earning him a roster spot.
“He was a great asset to the team,” said All-Army head coach Capt. Carl Little. “Very calm and collective. Can definitely play on this stage. We look forward to having him again. He was a great addition to the program.”
The All-Army team went to the Armed Forces Championship tournament with one thing on their mind – win the Army its third consecutive gold medal at the competition.
The team went 3-3 in the round-robin games, earning a spot in the championship game against the All-Navy team. After a tight championship game, the All-Navy team took the championship with a 75-73 win over All-Army.
Despite finishing second and winning silver for the tournament, Edwards said he felt it went well for the All-Army team.
“I think we were challenged by a great Navy team throughout the duration of the tournament,” he said. “They were they only team we lost to multiple times. They had a lot of great talent and they challenged us.”
Edwards is appreciative of this opportunity the Army offers him to be able to continue competing even after he took off his Black Knights jersey for the final time in college.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I think that being able to play competitively at that level is great because All-Armed Forces (Sports) is essentially (NCAA) Division I basketball and I’ve been playing at such a high level my entire life and once you enter the Army, you don’t get as many opportunities to play at that level anymore,” he said. “So just to get that opportunity again, which is great, it brought me back to my college days and gave me an opportunity to compete against a great group of guys.”
Edwards, who injured his ACL during the tournament, “absolutely” plans to apply for the All-Army team again next year.
“I’m definitely going to try and get healthy,” he said. “As soon as I recover from (my ACL injury), if the recovery window is in time beforehand, I’m definitely going to try again next year for sure.”