‘I’m going to earn it’ – Boston Herald

Tiwian Kendley has many memories of his time with the Morgan State men’s basketball program. There was his feat of 40 points and 10 rebounds in an 85-82 double win against Manhattan on December 7, 2016, making him just the fourth player in school history to hit the 40-point benchmark.

Kendley improved himself with a stat of 41 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 96-95 overtime loss against Bethune-Cookman on February 19, 2018. In addition to losing 30 points or more seven times, he also registered a putback dunk as he took off from the wing in front of the Bears bench, grabbed an airborne rebound and set it down for two of his 26 points in a 78-72 loss to Towson on Nov. 15. , 2016.

But the one game that stood out for Kendley was a thunderous windmill dunk in a 61-47 win over Delaware State on January 23, 2018, in which he took just two steps inside the free-throw line before hammering the ball home.

“I didn’t even know I was going to do it,” he said. “It just happened. I just went with my body. It just went down, and I remember the crowd saying, ‘Ohh!’ That was epic.”

Kendley, 27, is trying to achieve more milestones, most notably by going to the NBA. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard small forward plans to return for a second season to the Wisconsin Herd, the MIlwaukee Bucks’ G League affiliate.

Of the Herd players who played at least 20 games last season, Kendley was in fourth place with a score of 12.3 points per game and a 0.44 field goal percentage. He added 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Wisconsin coach Chaisson Allen said Kendley was a valuable contributor to the team.

“He can do a little bit of everything,” said Allen, who played abroad in Croatia, Greece, Israel, Poland and Turkey. “I can’t compare him to a player, but I just liked having him because I could put him in a ball screen, I could play him off the ball. He was easy to use in our attacking system.”

Kendley is still the fastest player in Morgan State history to score 1,000 points and accumulate 1,032 points in just 44 career games. That talent is one that former coach Todd Bozeman cites as Kendley’s path to the NBA.

“He’s very gifted with the ability to score,” Bozeman said. “He’s got a high motor and I think any professional basketball player would tell you that a high motor is in the top two there. I would say it’s number 1 in terms of what you look for in guys. He can really score the ball and he can really defend too. He would be an excellent two-way man.”

Kendley grew up in Harlem, New York, in the Abraham Lincoln projects. But when he was 15, his mother Jasmine Barnes moved him and his siblings to Greenbelt in Prince George’s County.

“I knew I was going to play basketball, otherwise I would get caught up in the environment,” he said. “Basketball used to be to me, but where I come from, there are a lot of other things out there. I was one of those kids who had the chance to escape it.”

After playing at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Kendley began his college career at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colorado. After scoring more than 1,000 points there in two years, Kendley was recruited to Morgan State by Glenroy Palmer, his former AAU coach who was an assistant to Bozeman’s staff.

Bozeman remembered Kendley as an energetic player who immediately earned the respect of his teammates.

“He made quite a few plays,” he said. “He was one of those guys where his teammates looked to him to score and lead them. He has that kind of magnetism.”

Kendley attributed his success with the Bears to realizing he couldn’t waste the opportunity presented to him.

“I knew if I really wanted to make it work, that was my last chance,” he said. “Morgan State was my last chance, my last everything to make everything work and make sure I wanted to do what I wanted to do. It was more like mentally cutting out a lot of things and sticking to basketball for two years.”

After graduating from Morgan State in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and being unwritten, Kendley signed with the Washington Wizards’ Summer League team, averaging 9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. On September 10, 2018, he agreed to a one-year, minimum wage agreement with the Wizards before being waived by them on October 14.

Kendley then joined the training camp for the Capital City Go-Go, the G League affiliate in Washington. Four months later, he was traded to the Windy City Bulls, the G League franchise of the Chicago Bulls.

After playing in Mexico in 2020 and Kosovo in 2021, Kendley returned to the United States in October to play for the Los Angeles Lakers-affiliated G League affiliate South Bay Lakers. But he appeared in just four games and averaged 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.3 assists. When he was released on January 31, he was home for a day before the Wisconsin Herd signed him.

Allen, who was an assistant coach for the Capital City Go-Go when Kendley was there, said he knew what he was getting from Kendley.

“We needed him to play 25 minutes a night,” Allen said. “We needed scoring, something he’s great at, and that allowed him to just unlock and play his game.”

In nine games with the Herd in February, Kendley averaged 14.6 points, including a 30-point burst in a 105-100 loss to the Westchester Knicks on February 26. Kendley said his time in Wisconsin rejuvenated his mind.

“I immediately felt great about myself,” he said. “I went straight to my coach and said to him, ‘Even if you don’t all keep me here, thank you. You made me feel that love for the game again.’ I had fun on both sides of the floor, and that was the most important thing. And then it just went on with the Herd. I just kept performing and in my mind I was back. I had fun, and that’s how it went.”

At 27, Kendley’s window may not be as wide as others’. But Allen pointed out that Pablo Prigioni made his rookie debut with the New York Knicks in 2012, when he was 35 years old.

“Everyone has a different path,” he said. “I think for him he just has to keep working and keep striving and take every day to get better. As long as you do that and try to reach your full potential, the league will find you.”

Kendley is trying to become only the second player in Morgan State history to play in the NBA. He would join Marvin “The Human Eraser” Webster, who played 10 seasons for the ABA’s Denver Nuggets and the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics and Knicks. Kendley said he knows he has to prove that he is as determined to defend as he is to attack.

“I know that will separate me and get me in,” he said. “Once I’m in, my hard work will show that I belong here. I don’t want to get anything. I want to work for it. I’m going to earn it and I’m going to thank everyone after I do.”

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