Kendrick Perry, a 2010 Edgewater High alum, had to overcome a fractured leg before convincing college coaches he was worth a look.
The four-year Youngstown State starter is now entering his ninth year as an overseas pro and raised his global reputation significantly this month with his play in the EuroBasket 2022 tournament.
Perry, a 6-foot guard who plays bigger than he stands, helped lead the the national team of Montenegro, one of Europe’s smallest countries, to a 3-3 record and 13th-place finish in a continental championship event that showcased the NBA’s back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic (Serbia), two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), likely future MVP Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (France).
Perry tied for the tournament lead in steals with 13, ranked No. 4 in assists and was one of the top 25 scorers in the 24-nation event. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.2 assists and scored 25 in a Round of 16 loss to Germany, outscoring NBA guard Dennis Schroder (22 points).
“That’s obviously the biggest stage he’s been able to play on,” said Edgewater coach Jason Atherton, who was an assistant in Perry’s senior season with the Eagles (2009-10). “Kendrick has bounced around some over there, but he has consistently worked his way up the different levels in Europe.”
Perry was given a Montenegrin passport this year. That allowed him to represent the nation as its one allowed “naturalized” player.
Montenegro’s losses were to champion Spain 82-65, Germany 85-79 and Turkey 72-68, which had Dr. Phillips legend Shane Larkin in its backcourt.
After averaging 22.2 points as a college senior, Perry signed with an Australian professional club. He played nine games for the Iowa Wolves of the NBA G-League in the 2014-15 season before embarking on his European career.
He’s set to play the coming season with a new club, Unicaja Baloncesto Malaga in Spain, after also suiting up for teams in France, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia.
“Kendrick comes back every summer,” Atherton said. “He’s in our gym. He’s talked to our teams countless times.”
Perry bounced back from his leg injury (tibia) and earned second team All-State as a high school senior despite playing in the shadows of guards Austin Rivers (Winter Park) and Larkin — both first-team All-State picks as juniors that season.
Larkin, also 29, averaged 9.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in five EuroBasket pool play games but was bothered by an injury to his right hand. He dropped out of the tournament to undergo surgery, according to published reports.
Lake Howell alum Nick Calathes, a Euro veteran at 33, averaged 8.1 points, 5 assists and 3.1 rebounds for Greece, which was 6-1 but ousted by host Germany in a quarterfinal despite 31 points from Antetokounmpo.
This report was first published at Orlandosentinel.com. Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at [email protected]