Markus Kennedy noticed the irony. The Southern Methodist junior center and Philadelphia product was back home, preparing for a game Wednesday at Temple in a very familiar setting.
On Tuesday, SMU (12-4) practiced at Villanova, Kennedy's old stomping grounds. He attended Villanova as a freshman in 2011-2012, saw limited playing time, and transferred to SMU.
"It feels good and it's always great to be back in Philly," Kennedy said before practice at the Pavilion.
Kennedy is from West Philadelphia and spent most of his high school time at St. Patrick's in Elizabeth, N.J., before transferring to South Jersey's Living Faith Academy. He then spent a year at Brewster Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire, before attending Villanova.
Kennedy had no hard feelings after leaving Villanova. He said he was simply looking for more playing time after averaging 3.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14.8 minutes.
"I hope some of that top-10 juice rubs off on us," he said about Villanova, which is ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll. "It's great to be back at 'Nova and I have nothing but love for the Wildcats."
After sitting out the 2012-2013 season because of NCAA transfer rules, Kennedy averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 25 minutes last year for an SMU team that lost to Minnesota, 65-63, in the NIT championship.
The momentum from last year was stalled when Kennedy was ruled academically ineligible during the fall, missing the first 10 games of this season.
In six games since returning, he has averaged 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. On Thursday, he scored 21 points, shooting 10 of 13 from the field in a 73-59 win over visiting Memphis.
"I am still getting my rhythm back," Kennedy said. "Ten games is a lot to miss."
SMU coach Larry Brown, the former 76ers coach, sees the progression with Kennedy.
"He is getting better every day," Brown said. ". . . He is a tremendous young player and I think he has a chance."
Brown, now in his third season at SMU, feels the best is yet to come this season for Kennedy.
"The better shape he gets in, the better he will be," Brown said. "He is a low post presence. [Villanova coach] Jay [Wright] did a great job with him, so he was pretty well prepared."
Kennedy feels he made the right choice by moving on. "It was a hard decision for me and nothing that I regret," he said. "I am happy here at SMU and still love Villanova and watch all their games and root for them."