By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State senior guard Kendrick Perry will play his final home opener tonight, a milestone he described as exciting and bittersweet.
“I’m just trying to cherish the moment and not take it for granted,” he said.
After a weekend in Tennessee, the Florida native was also greeted with Ohio’s first big snowstorm on Monday.
So is this is his final first snowfall, too?
“I’m not sure,” he said, smiling. “After the school year, I’ll let the chips fall where they may. If I can get away from the snow, I won’t really complain about that.”
Of course, neither milestone qualified as the biggest of Perry’s week. Thanks to his performance in the Kennesaw State tournament, NBC Sports named Perry its national player of the week, beating out Kentucky phenom Julius Randle as well as players from UMass, Florida and Syracuse.
“When you think about all the college players nationally, you’ve got some really good talent out there,” said Perry, who averaged 22.0 points, 5.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals in three wins. “For that honor, I’m very humbled for it.”
Perry was also named the Horizon League player of the week, which was a nice start for the league’s preseason player of the year.
While Perry’s 31-point outburst in the championship game against Ohio Valley Conference preseason favorite Eastern Kentucky got the most attention, YSU coach Jerry Slocum was more impressed with Perry’s defense, holding first team all-conference guard Glenn Cosey to 2 of 11 shooting.
“He not only had a great game on the offense end, he was really, really special defensively,” Slocum said of Perry.
Tonight at Beeghly Center, the Penguins (3-0) play Warren Wilson, a Division II school from North Carolina that will be playing its fourth game in four days. YSU can improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
“I know we can’t overlook them,” Perry said. “There are still some questions [about YSU] because we know our season isn’t going to be made or broken in three games.
“We’re just gonna have to keep getting better every day and we’ll see where that takes us.”