“If you can play, NBA teams will find you.” The sentiment always becomes stronger in the period leading up to the NBA Draft. Teams aren’t concerned as much where you played college basketball, but what you can do to help their team. The Horizon League hasn’t produced many over the past few years, but they have included two highly regarded point guards coming out of college, Norris Cole (Cleveland State) and Ray McCallum (Detroit). Now, Youngstown State’s Kendrick Perry is looking to add his name to that list.
Perry is coming a tremendous season for the Penguins, averaging over 21 points on 51% shooting, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists (2.4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio), to go along with almost 2 ½ steals per game. Whatever the team needed Perry to do, he was up to the challenge. It was a great culmination to a college career where Perry took major steps each season.
With the NBA Draft fast approaching, Perry opened up about his time at Youngstown State helped develop him into the player he is now.
“The biggest thing I developed in college was my mental toughness,” said Perry. “I was a 17-year old freshman starting, and it forced me to mature more on and off the court. I think my whole game improved over time, but my physical strength did a lot, allowing me to take hits now that I couldn’t early on.”
After his season ended, Perry had the chance to take part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for the top seniors in the country. Perry was grateful for the experience. “It was good to learn how to try to be more of a leader when playing with guys who are similar to you,” Perry explained. “I was out there working to get everyone to play together.”
When I talked to Perry, he had already worked out for the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Orlando Magic, with more to come. Perry was impressed by the whole process. “You really learn about the speed of the NBA game, and how NBA teams practice,” said Perry. “Plus we are lucky enough to have experienced NBA coaches running the workouts and teaching us.”
As he prepares for the next step in his career, Perry understands what parts of his game make him desirable to pro teams. “I am long, fast, and athletic, and I bring a lot of positive energy out on the court,” Perry explained. “My decision-making continues to improve and working hard on defense is something I pride myself on.”
As he continues to prepare for more NBA workouts, Perry knows there is a key area where he needs to continue to get better. “I need to become more consistent with my outside shooting,” Perry said. “If you want to play in the NBA, you need to be able to knock down the jumper.”
Looking ahead a bit to his professional career, Perry sees a lot of what he can bring to a team in another Horizon League product. “I think a lot of what I can do compares to Norris Cole,” said Perry. “I believe I can come in and help change the game on either offense or defense.”
With the next step in his future coming up soon, Perry has a message for teams out there about what they can expect from him. “Anything that my team needs to be successful, I will go out there and do it,” said Perry. “It’s all about bringing positive energy and leadership wherever I go.”
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