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The ‘bittersweet’ return of Kennedy and Jaloni Cambridge with Ohio State women’s basketball

Kennedy shares more about the elementary school dream come true in scarlet and gray

Jaloni Cambridge (left) and Kennedy Cambridge (right)
Kennedy Cambridge on Twitter | @Kencambridge_

Friday, the future of Ohio State women’s basketball received a boost. It came in the form of the verbal commitment of 2024’s No. 1 point guard, and overall No. 3 player, Jaloni Cambridge. The announcement sent waves through college basketball, with Cambridge choosing head coach Kevin McGuff’s side over recent national champions in the LSU Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks, plus other noteworthy teams like the Louisville Cardinals and Baylor Bears.

The biggest impact of the decision wasn’t with a team, coach, or NIL deal though. It struck close to home with Jaloni’s sister: Buckeyes guard Kennedy Cambridge.

On Instagram, Kennedy shared her feelings with her followers in an outpouring of love, sharing a small glimpse into the connection between the sisters. When it comes to that connection’s place on the court, Friday’s decision is the next chapter, following many previous sibling stories.

“I played with her my entire life,” said Kennedy, talking with Land-Grant Holy Land. “Like when I was in the fourth grade, she was playing up and she was in the second grade.”

While the two haven’t always played alongside each other since those early days of being eight and 10 years old, they played together in high school for the Ensworth Tigers, and they were pretty good.

In three seasons playing together at Ensworth, with Jaloni starting on the high school varsity team as an eighth grader, the Cambridge sisters led the Tigers to two state championships. The final was a bittersweet moment for the tightly-knit Cambridge family.

Following a dominant 70-46 victory, where Kennedy had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while Jaloni added 19 points and seven rebounds, emotions were high.

“I remember our last game together,” said Kennedy. “We both just broke down in tears because we couldn’t believe it was over.”

The “it was over” doesn’t look like it will last.

When Kennedy left high school for the bluegrass of the University of Kentucky, the idea of them playing together again received a boost when she entered the transfer portal in the summer of 2023. As everyone now knows, Kennedy chose the Buckeyes, a school that hosted Jaloni in a visit in the fall of 2022.

However, it wasn’t guaranteed that the two Cambridges would reunite. After all, the list of schools trying their best to entice Jaloni was strong. A final group consisting of six combined national championships. Plus the idea of playing with the likes of LSU star forward Angel Reese or being part of the growing legend of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.

After the decision, speaking with various media outlets following Jaloni’s commitment to Ohio State, Kennedy shared that Friday’s announcement was a surprise. Which is true, kinda. It’s more of the “when” that needs clarifying.

“It was not a surprise to me,” said Kennedy. “I was lying to the media, but I knew for like a week or two, officially. But we had talked about it since we got out of high school playing again.”

A small stretch of the truth by an excited sister who gets to reunite and bring an actual family member into the non-blood family of the Ohio State women’s basketball team. A team that’s losing some members of the day-to-day family in the spring.

Jaloni will join Ohio State after two graduate senior guards Jacy Sheldon and Celeste Taylor end their NCAA eligibility. Behind them are two other guards who still have one year of eligibility, if they choose to use it, in Rikki Harris and Madison Greene. Should they both return, the ability of Jaloni creates tough decisions for coach McGuff on the court.

On Kennedy’s side of being a Buckeye, the guard hasn’t played. A date for a Cambridge debut is unknown, but next season, alongside Jaloni, the excitement surrounding the program is palpable. A plan coming to fruition.

“We had talked about it since we got out of high school, playing again,” said Kennedy. “And we just had to make some pieces fall together and then I ended up here and boom.”

It was a game of chess, played perfectly by the pair of Cambridge sisters, all in an effort to create another bittersweet moment. A phrase used by their dad, Desmond Cambridge. The father of nine used it when posting about watching two of his daughters play together in that final championship game at Ensworth.

The feeling isn’t hard for a parent to imagine. Seeing the excitement of two high-achieving athletic sisters playing together for years comes to an abrupt end. Starting next year, it looks like it’s starting all over again.