Kemrite Reflects on Career on Liberty’s Basketball Team
In the summer of 2013, a wide-eyed freshman walked on the campus of Liberty University as a student-athlete for the first time. Feeling fortunate enough just to be playing college basketball, Ryan Kemrite could have never predicted the impact he would make on Liberty’s basketball program over the next five years.
Kemrite, a fifth-year senior, is originally from Conroe, Texas, a small community located just north of Houston. Throughout his high school years, he was homeschooled and played basketball at SATCH (Sports Association of Texas for Christian Homeschoolers), an organization developed for homeschooled athletes to play competitive school sports.
“Liberty was my only Division I offer, or any offer at any level,” Kemrite said. “To be able to come into a place that I was lucky just to be a part of and then lucky enough to play and then lucky enough to win – I would have never thought I would have achieved or done any of the things I’ve done.”
Having been part of the program since 2013, Kemrite experienced a lot of losing early on in his college career. In his first three years at Liberty, the team lost at least 19 games each season. In his final two years, however, the team enjoyed 20 back-to-back win campaigns, culminating in an improbable run to the Big South Conference championship game last month.
After upsetting No. 1-ranked UNC Asheville on their home court, Liberty had a chance to square off with rival Radford in the conference championship game, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The game, which was played at Radford’s Dedmon Center and was featured on ESPN, was a closely contested affair throughout.
In the closing seconds, however, Radford guard Carlik Jones hit a heart-breaking three-pointer as time expired to send the Highlanders to the dance and Liberty home.
Kemrite had never been so close to achieving the ultimate goal of every mid-major basketball player in the nation: competing in the NCAA Tournament. As he watched Radford celebrate, he knew that dream would never come true.
“It was my last chance, I don’t get another shot,” Kemrite said.
Despite falling short to Radford, Kemrite said he was lucky to experience a successful 2017-18 season.
“For me to be a part of building a foundation at Liberty, that’s more important to me than any accolades that I can have,” Kemrite said. “I just count it a blessing to be able to be a part of this and to find a place that really believed in me and really tried to encourage me to go for my biggest goals.”
It is that kind of humble attitude that has endeared Kemrite to coaches, teammates and Liberty fans. In fact, after the loss, he concerned himself with how some of the younger players on the team – guys he would no longer be playing with – can learn and grow from a defeat of that nature.
“I had the opportunity to lose a lot,” Kemrite said. “How you handle losing tells a lot about your character, and that’s good that the young guys got to be a part of something that would test them and try them and make them stronger in the end.”
Kemrite would admit, as the old proverb goes, that it takes a village to raise a child. And although he was far from a child when he first crossed paths with coach McKay, he is profoundly thankful for the impact of his coach on his life.
“It’s hard to find sometimes in the college ranks, a staff from top to bottom that believes in you and wants you to succeed and has your best interest at heart no matter what,” Kemrite said. “And that’s something that McKay and the rest of the staff have really brought to Liberty.”
In addition to being team captain, Kemrite accomplished major feats on the court as well. Not the least of those is setting school records for career three-pointers made (258) and career three-point field goal percentage (43.0), according to libertyflames.com. Liberty has never had a better shooter from beyond the arch.
As with all good things, however, Kemrite’s college career must come to an end. After five years at Liberty, Kemrite will be graduating in May with an M.B.A in Finance and will be putting his playing days behind him. Upon graduation, he will start work as a Forensic Accountant for a firm in Miami, Florida.
As for what he wants to be remembered for, he hopes it will be for things much bigger than the game of basketball.
“I want to leave a personal impact with people, that whether I’m here or not ten years from now, they’ll remember me as a great teammate, a hard worker and someone who really cared and invested in them,” Kemrite said.