By Joe Scalzo
Late Friday night, less than a week before the NBA draft, former Youngstown State guard Kendrick Perry looked out the window of his Minneapolis hotel room and tried to figure out his life’s next step.
Restaurant or room service?
“Right now, my biggest concern is getting something to eat,” he said.
It’s been a busy few weeks since Perry graduated in early May. In addition to this weekend’s workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Perry has worked out with the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic and has a workout scheduled this week with the Dallas Mavericks, as well as a second workout with the Magic, whose arena is less than 20 minutes from his hometown of Ocoee, Fla.
But even with Thursday’s draft looming, Perry is still trying to focus on the next day (or next workout, or next meal) and not on the next decade.
“I always take things one day at a time,” he said. “I don’t try to think too far ahead. It’s exciting, knowing the draft is less than a week away and I’m really excited to see what happens. Whether I get drafted or not, I’m confident I’ll be able to get picked up on somebody’s team.”
Perry, 21, is the 58th-ranked senior in this year’s class, according to DraftExpress. He’s one of three Horizon League players in the top 100, along with Green Bay center Alec Brown (23rd) and Oakland guard Travis Bader (77th). Brown was at one of his workouts — teams usually bring in six players at a time — as was UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, who led the Huskies to this year’s national title.
The workouts feature a lot of shooting drills, as well as one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three competitions.
“The whole experience has been fun,” said Perry. “You get to meet a lot of great guys who are all in the same position as you, just basically trying to get jobs. I’ve really just focused on trying to show them [teams] what I have, what I’m capable of, and let the rest fall where they may.”
Perry (6-0, 170) graduated as YSU’s Division I leader in scoring with 1,991 points, also holds the Horizon League’s career record for steals (246) and finished with more than 500 assists and 500 rebounds. Although he’s undersized, he’s an explosive leaper with a 6-foot-6 wingspan. (By comparison, Bader is 6-4 but has a 6-6 1/2 wingspan.)
DraftExpress said Perry was one of the two best athletes at the Portsmouth Invitational Camp — a pre-draft camp for college seniors — and his athleticism and versatility are NBA quality. While Perry said he struggled with his shooting both at the Portsmouth Camp and in his Utah Jazz workout, he ranks second all-time on YSU’s 3-point list with 201 and is first with 504 free throws.
Perry is trying to become just the second Penguin to play in the NBA — Leo Mogus played for seven teams from 1945-51 in the NBA and the BAA, the forerunner to the NBA — and could add to the Horizon League’s already strong professional tradition. The Horizon League has sent 29 players to the NBA, including five that played this season: Heat guard Norris Cole (Cleveland State), Clippers guard Willie Green (Detroit), Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (Butler), Hawks guard Shelvin Mack (Butler) and Kings guard Ray McCallum (Detroit).
“I’ve put the time in, put the work in and I think the results show,” he said. “My job is to show the coaches and everybody on those teams what I’m capable of and let them make the decisions. I can’t control perceptions. I can only control how hard I play.”