YOUNGSTOWN - Kendrick Perry has yet to surrender that boyish vision.
Maybe it's because he grew up just north of Walt Disney World in Ocoee, Fla., but the 6-foot, 160-pound Youngstown State University junior point guard is starting to make his dreams come true.
He, like countless other boys, imagined himself with the ball in his hands in the last few seconds of a game - making the winning shot. For most, it was alone on an outside court or the solace of each bounce of the ball reverberating around the gym.
Tribune Chronicle file photo / R. Michael Semple
Youngstown’s State’s Kendrick Perry weaves his way around Kent State’s Bryson Pope as he brings the ball upcourt during this Nov. 28 game in Youngstown. Perry, a YSU junior point guard, recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career.
"I got in trouble younger because I imagined myself in the house making those plays, breaking furniture and stuff," said Perry, who averages 16.2 points and 4.7 assists per game. "I think looking back on it, my parents have come to terms with that."
Perry, on the other hand, hasn't abandoned that youthful outlook and transfers that to the hardwood for the Penguins (8-5), which plays Wednesday at UIC.
"It's a great feeling," said Perry, who averages 84 percent from the free-throw line. "I love that feeling, whether we're down one or it's a tie game, a lot people like to look at it as pressure. I don't think of it as pressure. I think of it as excitement. I try not let it get to me and I try to make the best play."
In Saturday's win against Marygrove, Perry became the 33rd player in YSU men's basketball history to score 1,000 points in their career.
"The thing about Kendrick is he's really not defendable," YSU coach Jerry Slocum said. "I say that because he makes everybody around him better. He's either going to get his or you're going to get an easy one for the fact that he's unselfish and that fact he makes the right pass at the right time. He's obviously a good basketball player. The thing that sets him apart as is he's got such a good basketball IQ. He makes other people better."
As for Perry's journey, it started early on at a central Florida YMCA.
"Ever since I was young, my mom (Debroah) took me to the local YMCA and guess the rest was history from there," Perry said.
From playing at Edgewater High School in nearby Orlando to YSU, why has Perry remained passionate about the sport?
"I joke around now saying now that I'm in the cold weather that it's an indoor sport," he said. "It's just one of those sports that I'm very passionate about. I love everything about it."
Being able to launch himself toward the hoop for the occasional slam dunk helps others share his passion as well.
"It just doesn't get me hype, but it gets my teammates hyped," Perry said. "Whether it's a good hype that we're at home or a bad hype that we're away. I love the energy I get from it.
"Back when I was younger, I really didn't have that much vertical. I used to do a lot of jump rope workouts with my dad (Aubrey). I guess those started to pay off."
His brother, Aubrey (better known as Tre), is a professional soccer player - playing briefly for the Columbus Crew.
Kendrick hopes to play after his days at YSU.
"I would hope to play basketball until I literally can't any more," he said. "Wherever that takes me, the sky's the limit."
For now, Perry continues to carry that passion that he carried when he played at his area YMCA.
"I've been playing this game for a really long time," Perry said. "I like to say I still have the same passion I had when I first picked up a basketball. I try to use that passion day in and day out. I played a lot of games over the course of my career. I treat every one with the same passion and same excitement."