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Star basketball player for Duncanville sets eyes on future now that Texas' top team will miss playoffs due to coach's rules violation

At 10, Kaylinn Kemp was the #4 guard in the nation for her age group. As a sophomore, she'll now miss a chance to win a state title due to her coach's mistake.

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Kaylinn Kemp's varsity basketball season abruptly ended Tuesday night, and no one seems to know why.  

The game was canceled due to a new district investigation into her coach that's already on suspension. 

The 16-year-old star plays guard for Duncanville's girl's basketball team -- a squad filled with all-stars that are ranked number 1 in Texas and 11 nationwide.

Yet, that squad will not start its run for a state championship next week when playoffs begin. 

"Whoever does win state, know that they didn't get to us. If they did, they probably wouldn't have gotten that far," Kemp said. "No one in Texas can beat us." 

In October 2022, the team was barred from competing in the playoffs. The program was placed on a probation period of three years after UIL officials suspended Head Coach LaJeanna Howard for a rules violation.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "tryouts were hosted for Duncanville students not already on the team" roughly two months before practices could be held. DISD is open-enrollment. The team also posted on social media about the tryout per the Star-Telegram.

On Tuesday night, the team had to forfeit its last regular season game against Skyline after the district announced it was investigating if Howard violated her suspension and district directives. 

Howard and the coaching staff are now on leave with pay pending the outcome of that investigation. No other information was given to parents or players. 

Unlike Kemp, a sophomore, seniors missed a chance to give their final game their all. 

The team finished 26-5 overall and 13-1 in their district, earning the district championship over DeSoto. 

Credit: Gio Garcia
Crystal Blackmon (left) and Kemp talk with WFAA.

"I'm speechless when I think about it," Kemp's mother, Crystal Blackmon, said.

"These girls are all family. They're sisters. I just hate that they have been deprived of the opportunity to be greater than people already know them to be." 

Kemp is on a meteoric rise and will no doubt play basketball in college. WFAA profiled her when she was 10, practicing relentlessly after being ranked number 4 in the nation for her age group. 

She hopes to be in the WNBA someday. 

"Basketball is very front and center for me; it's something that I've always wanted to do when I get older," Kemp said. 

"Those practices are getting longer, harder, quicker and faster."

Kemp told WFAA that what happened to the team this season is out of her control, but her mother feels like the girls shouldn't be punished. 

"We hear so many people say all the time that 'it's all about the kids.' Really? Well, it needs to really be that way," Blackmon said. "Egos and politics have gotten in the way. I hate that it's gotten to this point because it didn't have to." 

When it comes to her future, Kemp's biggest year for recruiting will be the next season when she's a junior. 

That's all she's focused on and says this "banishment" from the playoffs this season only adds gasoline to her drive.  

"This gives me fuel. Me and my teammates feel like all of this will make us go next season," Kemp said. 

"We got a statement to make, and the statement will be made. I just want everybody to be ready for that."  

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