Kendrick Perry — having just completed a rich four-year run with the Penguins basketball team — knows it can be easy to get caught up in the moment.
During his four-day stint at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft NBA prospect camp that began on Wednesday and wraps up Saturday, that’s exactly what he doesn’t want to do.
When he performs in front of representatives from each NBA team, as well as international scouts, he simply wants to do what got him national recognition.
“The total mindset is just to be yourself,” Perry said prior to the camp. “A lot of times, you see guys try to do stuff that really isn’t their character and isn’t the reason they got invited to Portsmouth to begin with.
“Obviously, somebody somewhere saw something they liked about me. So I’m just going to keep trying to do what I do, but at the same time get better at what I do.”
The P.I.T. invites the top 64 college seniors to the camp — which is held at the Churchland High School Sports Complex in Virginia — and allows them to display their skills in 12 games over a period of four days.
Perry is the first-ever Youngstown State University player to participate at the P.I.T., which has been going strong since 1953. The tournament is divided between eight teams — Perry will play for the Mike Duman squad.
“I’m not going to try to do anything too crazy or anything that I don’t think I’m capable of,” he said. “I’m just going to go in there with a positive mindset and do things that I’ve been doing all of my life and let the results pan out for themselves.”
In his four years with the Penguins, Perry earned three All-Horizon League First-Team selections and finished as the school’s Division I leading scorer with 1,991 career points. He also set a Horizon League record for career steals and was named to the conference’s all-defensive team this past year.
He’s hoping the P.I.T. is another step that will help him reach his ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.
“It’s a huge opportunity and definitely something that I cherish,” he said. “When you’re given the opportunity like this you can’t really half-do it. You have to take full advantage.”
In an effort to do so, Perry left YSU’s campus and returned to his hometown of Ocoee, Fla., about a month ago shortly after the Penguins season ended.
While still trying to complete his courses online and graduate in the spring, he began working out with the Orlando Hoops training team. Perry trains five days a week and twice a day at the OHoops facility.
“One day, for the first session, we’ll do ball handling and some shooting,” he explained. “Then I take a little break and come back and hit the weights and do some agility work. Then the next day it’ll be cone drills.”
It’s a rigorous routine the criminal justice major said he enjoys.
“We just do different stuff and try to mix it up — try not to keep the same routine,” he said. “They try to keep me on my toes and it’s really fun.”
Like he enjoys his workouts, Perry said he’s simply trying to “cherish” the entire process of striving to make it in professional basketball.
“I’ve had people ask me if I’m anxious or nervous, but I don’t really see it that way,” he said. “I’m just thankful for the position that I’m in because a lot of people don’t get these chances.”