Love and Basketball: Perry concludes collegiate career with one goal in mind

Senior guard Kendrick Perry finishes fast break with a dunk against Wright State University on Jan. 25. Perry is second in the Horizon League with 20.5 points per game and has 65 steals this season, 11 less than the record he set in 2012.

As long as senior Kendrick Perry can remember, he has been in love with the game of basketball.

It started from the moment he was born.

“As far as I am concerned, I came out of the womb holding a basketball,” Perry said laughing.

His dream has always been to take his talent to the next level and play in the NBA. Even though Perry is dreaming about the future, he is focused on the present.

“To see things unfold, and seeing my dream be right there in reach, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “But, at the same time, that is in the future, and my goal right now is to lead my team to the Horizon League championship.”

Perry said his love for the game will never stop, and he doesn’t remember the last time he didn’t play ball.

From the moment he began dribbling a basketball to where he is now was no walk in the park. Perry felt as if he needed to mature as a person, and sometimes he let his ego get in the way of that.

“Coming in as a 17-year-old freshman, I was immature. I let my little ego I had get in the way at times,” he said.

When Perry first arrived at Youngstown State University, his path with head coach Jerry Slocum was not the smoothest. The two occasionally butted heads.

“Early my freshman year, it was no secret that coach and I didn’t really see eye to eye sometimes,” Perry said.

It was these challenges that not only helped him on the court, but off the court as well. He feels that because of what he went through early in his career, he can say that he has grown more as a person.

The legacy of Perry will go down as one of the best basketball players YSU has ever seen. He has the record in steals, is on the verge of breaking YSU’s scoring record and has plenty of accolades.

Perry is a 2013 All-Horizon League first team pick, 2013 Academic All-Horizon league and was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District. He is the first Penguin to do that since the 2003-2004 season.

“I would like to think I was one of the best players to ever come to YSU,” he said. “For me to be mentioned in the same breath of those guys is very humbling.”

While Perry likes to imagine he’s one of the best, sophomore Bobby Hain doesn’t have to think twice about it.

“I can say he is the best to ever play here,” Hain said. “I hear what people say, and they say he is the best of all time. I will give him credit where credit is due.”

After Perry finishes his collegiate career, he isn’t concerned where the next journey of his basketball career begins. Whether it’s the NBA, overseas or even the D-League — the NBA’s Developmental League — he will play for as long as his body can handle it.

Fellow teammates D.J. Cole and Hain both said that Perry brings a unique presence in the locker room.

“In my eyes he is a great leader. I feel like I’m learning a lot from him being here,” Cole said.

His teammates added that Perry is a non-stop player who has determination that can’t be matched.

“He always gets me in the gym to do pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop workouts,” Hain said. “He tries to get better at every aspect of his game.”

Perry was sidelined late last season with a knee injury. Cole said, while the injury hurt the team as a whole, Perry was still trying to get his teammates pumped up and ready to go.

Cole said that work ethic and determination is what makes Perry the leader he is.

“He has been separating himself since he starting playing college. He’s always had a chip on his shoulder because in high school he broke his leg,” Cole said. “He’s been trying to get back to that top spot, and he is at that top spot, but he is still not satisfied. He wants more out of it.”

Perry is just trying to take everything one day at time and not rush the end of his phenomenal college career.

“I want to put my team in the best possible position to win a conference championship,” Perry said. “But it is my senior year, and I am approaching every game as if it is my last college game.”