With a name like “King,” you can’t lack confidence. And even as a freshman, Northland’s starting point guard had that in spades.
Just ask Africentric, which witnessed the 5-foot-10 Viking underclassman drop 33 points in an upset two-point victory over the reigning Columbus City League champions back in February as Kendrick led Northland to its first City League title since 2019.
Four months later, Kendrick had a chance to show off that faith in his ability in front of the Ohio State coaching staff at the program’s high school team camp at the Schottenstein Center last week.
This past Friday, Eleven Warriors was on hand to watch Kendrick and company face off against Uniontown’s Green High School, which featured 2025 Ohio State target Nikola Bundalo. And despite an 11-inch height disparity between the two, Green occasionally matched Bundalo up with Kendrick on the perimeter in an effort to slow the impact of the Northland guard.
Kendrick wasn’t quite as focused on putting up monster scoring numbers as he might have been in the aforementioned contest. With his head coach asking for patience from the young floor general, Kendrick spent the early going facilitating offense for his team and moving the ball. Before the end of the game, though, Kendrick got busy, knifing into the lane to create his own shot and frequently corralling offensive rebounds for putback buckets.
Northland guard King Kendrick making magic happen on the dribble drive pic.twitter.com/wy8IdvZ1LH— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2023
Fastbreak assist from Kendrick: pic.twitter.com/VUhDAbh5TX— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2023
Between his mature skills at a young age and the fact that he routinely makes shots with either hand, Kendrick has garnered praise and excitement at an early stage in his high school career. And whether it’s during an in-season high school game, at an AAU event or in a summer camp setting, Kendrick isn’t shy about what he hopes to show those evaluating his skill set.
“I'm showing people that I'm one of the best point guards in the country. I know I'm the best point guard in the country, I'm just trying to show other people I'm the best point guard in the country,” Kendrick said during an interview following Northland’s matchup with Green. “And other people, they never see ambidextrous hoopers like myself, so I'm trying to show them about what that is.”
Whether or not the Ohio State coaching staff believes Kendrick’s assertion, at least one member appeared impressed with his talent on Friday. Buckeye assistant coach Jake Diebler sat courtside to watch Kendrick and Bundalo’s teams go head-to-head, and he went straight to the Northland bench to speak with the former at the end of the contest.
Kendrick didn’t get a scholarship offer, but he said Diebler told him he’ll be watching his next season of high school hoops closely.
“He just gave me some encouragement going into the season. Told me he's gonna be on us this whole year, the rest of the year, and make sure you keep going, keep getting better, and he's gonna see what happens,” Kendrick said. “He said I got a good feel for the game, good handles, good skills and I'm very skillful with it. I'm ambidextrous, so I'm very skilled and he's just gonna keep watching.”
OSUs Jake Diebler talking to Kendrick after the game pic.twitter.com/RQFL6A1LWW— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 9, 2023
As for Kendrick’s dual-handed dexterity, we’re not just talking about hitting an occasional lefty layup. Kendrick proficiently shoots jump shots with both hands, an ability rarely seen in the sport. In fact, when asked if he’s encountered other ambidextrous basketball players, Kendrick said, “just me.”
It’s not necessarily a natural trait, either. Kendrick said he developed the ability through years of practice, and that it all stemmed from shooting the ball with two hands when he was younger.
“Working on both hands over the years. At first, I wasn't really good,” Kendrick. “I was shooting with both hands, so it just evened it out so I could shoot with both hands, pretty much. So yeah, just worked on it.”
“I'm showing people that I'm one of the best point guards in the country. I know I'm the best point guard in the country, I'm just trying to show other people."– King Kendrick
But that’s not all that sets Kendrick apart. His effort on the court and will to win were clear to see during his performance at Ohio State’s team camp, and both will be vital to Kendrick’s success as he tries to win more titles in his tenure at Northland. Not to mention, those intangibles will help Kendrick’s talent translate to the next level, and particularly at the point guard position.
“I think it's heart. A lot of people don't have heart out here,” Kendrick said. “That's what our coaches put in us, ask for it. So that just comes normal, comes natural to me. Just have effort and go hard.”
Thus far, Ohio and Kent State are among the only schools to offer scholarships to the diminutive floor general. But Kendrick said he’s also heard from programs like Michigan, Cincinnati, Mississippi State and North Carolina A&T.
Of course, Kendrick hopes to add Ohio State to that list eventually, even if the Buckeyes are holding off for now.
“That would be big. That would be really big,” Kendrick said. “Like, hometown, everybody in the city, that would be really big. Really, really big.”