From being cut his first year of university, to being named team MVP, to achieving a lifelong goal of being a professional, Kemel Archer has continued to defy the odds and expectations put against him. Having a deep belief in his ability to develop, with an unwavering work ethic over the years is what truly set Archer apart. Being one to always believe in himself, there was a specific moment that really tested this belief.
“I always believe in myself however for my progress the spark stemmed from self doubt. I hit my bottom after essentially being cut from my university team in my first year. I questioned myself and if I could play at the level.”
This was the first and the last time Archer would question his abilities. He later went on transferring to Wilfrid Laurier University, having 3 successful seasons. Archer's final year capped off with a team MVP award, while averaging a double-double and ranking fourth all-time in program history for rebounds with 542.
It was at Laurier where Archer began to develop and recognize his potential with the belief and guidance of his Coach Justin Serresse, who he credits with helping him develop into the player he is today, “It’s just the little things where I became a student of the game studying film.” Archer has had a profound impact on the team culture at Laurier, a sentiment that his Coach Serresse echoes.
“From the first time I met Kemel I knew he would be a great addition to our team. I loved his personality and story, I knew he would be keen to prove everyone wrong. From the start, Kemel had a huge impact on our team work ethic, drive, passion and team spirit. Kemel’s leadership grew so much in three years, he always helped the younger players in all aspects (school, basketball, weights, student life, etc). Kemel left a strong foundation to our team culture and we are looking forward growing it with new leaders.”
Being a person of influence, Archer's dedication to his craft and work ethic didn't go unnoticed by those around him, past teammate Chuder Teny observed.
“He’s easily one of the hardest working individuals I know. Every summer this guy always added something new to his game. His role grew each year and that’s because he never got complacent, he stayed each summer and dedicated summers to improving his game.”
Archer's time at Laurier was well spent and put him on the right path to reach the professional ranks. It was his second year at Laurier when he really started to believe, “I seen the spark... Watching game film I was making basketball reads, I kept getting better.” This belief was much stronger than anyone’s doubt, Archer just kept pushing himself.
“In every journey there’s doubt, obviously when I was cut from the basketball team, my mom telling me Kemel just get your degree and transfer close to home… naw man I have to do this.”
Living out his dreams, that’s what Archer is currently doing overseas. This being his first season, there was a lot to prepare for and unknowns that he would figure out on the go. It’s been a change from past experiences.
“At this level, It’s a shift from my university schedule where we train twice a day, have film sessions and practice. With COVID-19 the gym times are very limited and I have to shoot at an outdoor net. We only have gym time to practice, as the school and other organizations use our home gym as well.”
Despite the circumstances, Archer has taken ownership of his development, finding unique ways to stay game ready.
“What I learned as a professional is that if you want something done you must do it yourself. To keep myself in shape, I joined a cross-fit gym by my house where I train and picked up a hobby in boxing.”
Ownership is of most importance when being a professional in your sport, something Archer has taken note of “I have to do a lot more preparation myself”. He has to translate the scouting report they give him, google other players to watch their film, see stats and check who he’s matching up with.
It’s this initiative that sets Archer apart on the court, where he’s still adjusting to this new playing style but is averaging a double-double, and posted a league season high 24 rebounds in his last game before the holiday break.
On-court Archer is used to playing the game the right way, making unselfish basketball plays, but he’s made a slight adjustment to his play after a reality check from his Point Guard who told him “At this level I need my assist to move up and you need your points to move up, don’t make that pass”. Climbing the ranks is what it’s all about when playing in Spain’s Fourth Division, that’s Archer’s main goal for this season.
“I'm here to get myself up a level, I don't want to be in a situation where I get stuck in the same place.”
Although basketball may be Archer's profession and what he's most dedicated to, there are many other activities that have their space in his life.
2020 saw Archer take increased action on his interests and hobbies off the court; he started a podcast ‘Life Is A Shamble’. The idea originated years ago, now the time was right to act on it.
“I started a podcast in September called ‘Life is a shamble’, the idea originated years ago from teammates I had lived with, who were tired of me constantly lecturing them. It was only when quarantine hit in March that I started actually brainstorming ideas for the podcast. I thought It would be a great thing to do with all my free time I would have once I go overseas.”
This podcast is one of the two projects that Archer is currently working on, the second one being impactful for the youth.
“I'm starting a youth mentorship organization called ‘The Sideline Story’. I will be starting this with Chuder Teny and Telloy Simon. We all grew up in African households with single mothers so our roots are all intertwined in a way. Other than our mothers we essentially grew up alone and had to learn how to be men and citizens on our own.”
The goal is to officially launch in the coming Summer 2021.
Taking time to reflect on the past year of 2020, appreciation is what comes to mind for Archer. He was in the Class of 2020 who didn't get the traditional graduation ceremony but that doesn't stop him from recognizing what he achieved over the year.
“I graduated university, I became a professional basketball player, I reached 25 years old, there's a lot of things… I did a lot”
2020 was an eventful year for Archer, his plans for 2021 are to continue chasing and pursuing his dreams. Something that he keeps in mind everyday and would urge others to do the same while they can.
“I'm not at that age yet, here's my chance to take some risks. I want to pursue my goals, pursue my dreams while I'm young… Chase your dreams, you have all your life to pay bills.”
Archer is well on his way to achieving great things and we look forward to keeping up with his journey. Follow Kemel Archer on his Instagram @jellzmelo to keep up!