Australian Adventure: Perry ready for pro ball in Sydney

After representing Youngstown basketball for four years, Kendrick Perry will take his talents to the Southern Hemisphere to play for the Australian National Basketball League’s Sydney Kings. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

Kendrick Perry — at just 21 years-old — is a young man already accustomed to changing cultures.

The Ocoee, Florida native made a significant switch four years ago when he came to Youngstown State University from the Sunshine State to embark on what eventually turned out to be a phenomenal career with the Penguins’ basketball program.

So when Perry signed with the Sydney Kings of the Australian National Basketball League in late July, he wasn’t intimated by the thought of moving across the world and adapting the Aussie culture.

“I obviously made a big change when I went from Florida to Youngstown, so it’s not new to me. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be too tough,” Perry said. “I just want to take advantage of this opportunity and it’s something I’m really excited about.”

Perry left for Australia on Aug. 21 to begin preparing for the NBL season that begins in October and runs through March.

The 6-foot guard provided plenty of excitement during his four-year run at YSU. He finished as the Penguins Division I all-time leading scorer, recorded the most career steals in Horizon League history and also notched more than 500 rebounds and assists.

That resume earned him a spot on the Orlando Magic’s summer league roster in early July, as he played in one game — scoring eight points in 14 minutes — before signing with Sydney.

“The Orlando Summer League] was beneficial because, even though I wasn’t playing a lot, I was still around NBA players and professional athletes,” Perry said. “I got to see what their attitudes are like.

“In the past, I think there are guys that went through what I was going through, so being able to learn from them and take away advice about on-the-court and off-the-court things was a great experience.”

As part of the three-time league champion Kings, Perry will be under the guidance of head coach Damian Cotter and play alongside Josh Childress, among others.

Childress — also in his first year with Sydney — was the sixth overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft. He’s logged nine seasons in the NBA, most recently playing with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013.

“Obviously his resume speaks for itself and he’s an experienced guy that I can learn a lot from,” Perry said. “And even the guys on the team that are from Australia, I’m excited to join them too. I’ve been in contact with many of them already and they have good, positive attitudes.”

The high-character Perry — who said he was working on his game every day prior to leaving for Sydney — is expected to log significant minutes this season with the Kings.

“I think I’m pretty ready, but you can always get better,” he said.

While he admitted the NBA is still the ultimate goal, he made it clear he’s trying to live in the moment.

“My focus right now is the NBL and the Sydney Kings,” Perry said. “I’m just trying to bring championships to the city of Sydney first.”