Kenneth Santos is coming off of a Sophomore campaign in which he led Florida National in points per game at 16.9, and was second in rebounds per game at 6.3. The 6’1 Guard from Puerto Rico is a tough, electric player who is also one of the top shooters in the country as he made 101 3’s last season at 45%. Kenneth is a player that Head Coach James “JJ” Thatcher, now in his 7th season as Head Coach, leans on as they have Florida National on the rise in NAIA. They are coming off of a 20-8 season last year. The Conquistadors, who have duel membership as NAIA, and USCAA members, made it all the way to the USCAA Final Four. That USCAA Final Four appearance was the best in the history of the program. For his efforts last season, Santos was named as a USCAA All-American.
With two years left, Kenneth knows the expectations at Florida National are rising. When he first came to FNU, from Puerto Rico, Kenneth didn’t know much about NAIA. When he was offered a scholarship to FNU, he only knew that it was a program he could play at while earning a degree, and he liked that FNU was a relatively new program in which he could help take them to new heights.
Being 20-8 last season, Kenneth knew there was room to grow. He worked hard all off-season on his game in hopes that he could continue being one of the top shooters in the country. His main goal when he graduates is to go play pro ball back on his home island. He knows the work he puts in now will help him attain those goals.
Part of the dual membership that Florida National has, is as a NAIA DI member in the Association of Independent Institutions (Aii) Conference. Even though Kenneth didn’t know a lot about NAIA when he signed, he said that he was educated on the level of play and he now has an appreciation for this level of competition because it has allowed him to grow as a player. His trainers back home in Puerto Rico push him as well, but Playing for Coach JJ has been something he has really enjoyed. Coach JJ brings the energy every day, and that personality is contagious to the players. Kenneth said that he felt that he was easy to fit into Coach JJ’s system. He said that Coach wants the best for you at all times, and the players play harder for him because they know how much he cares.
This past weekend kicked off Kenneth’s Junior season. Florida National played in the UPIKE Tip-Off Classic. In his first game, against Bluefield (VA), Kenneth had 24 points, and 8 rebounds in a 98-80 win. Game 2, on Saturday, featured a match-up with NAIA DI #5 Pikeville (KY), in which he had 10 points and 8 rebounds in an 88-81 loss. It wasn’t a 2-0 start, but Florida National battled UPIKE, and proved they will be a fun team to watch this season!