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Player Profile: Cousins, teammates, roommates and best friends unite at UMKC

Kelsey Barnwell and Lauren Dudding, both guards for the ’Roos, were separated by 500 miles.

Today, they share everything in Kansas City, especially their talent on the court.

Dudding has already started 10 games, and averages 3.6 points. Barnwell has yes to start, but has appeared in all 26 games and averages 3.2.

Dudding and her family traveled from Lubbock, Texas to Jay, Okla. every summer to visit the Barnwells.

Their visits always included time on the basketball court.

“We played basketball against one another or against our brothers,” Dudding said. “When we went one-on-one, the loser always asked for a rematch until they won.”

Even though the main purpose was having fun, Barnwell said that their “games were always intense.”

“We were very competitive when we played, but we always supported one another on and off the court,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell started playing basketball in kindergarten and grew up as a coach’s daughter.

Dudding began her basketball career around the age of five, when she started  playing competitively.

They used to discuss becoming teammates.

As their college careers neared, their desire to play together in a Division I program grew.

“Lauren almost moved to Oklahoma her junior year so we could play together,” Barnwell said.  “We always wanted to play together and had talked about it in the past, and all I could think was how awesome it would be.”

Dudding had to make an important decision.

“Since my mom was from the area and I’d get a chance to play with Kelsey, I really considered it,” she added. “In the end, I didn’t want to be away from my dad and brother that long, so I decided to stay.”

Both cousins started hearing from different schools during their high school years. Dudding had the opportunity to play for her hometown school, Texas Tech. Barnwell received an offer from Oral Roberts, but UMKC won out.

“We were talking about who all we had talked to and realized that UMKC was on both of our lists,” Barnwell said.  “Again, we thought about what it would be like to finally be teammates.”

Barnwell was the first one to sign on with the ’Roos, and a month later, Dudding decided to join her.

“We’ve always had a bond, and after coming close to playing together in high school, it was a dream come true to finally get the chance to at UMKC,” Dudding said.

The cousins also became roommates.

“It was a no-brainer,” Barnwell said.  “Even though we are different types of people, we get along really well.  We do a good job balancing one another out.”

“It’s awesome living together,” Dudding added.  “She is like my sister and my best friend.  We are a little different but get along great.  I’m a neat freak and more girlie, but she is more laid back and goes with the flow.  It works.”

Dudding is majoring in business. Barnwell took a different trail by majoring in education.

“We didn’t get to spend as much time together growing up as we would have liked, but we have already made a ton of memories and have a lot more to make,” Barnwell concluded.

dmoreno@unews.com

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