Credit:

Kendrick Perry, one of the new entries on the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens roster for the 2021-22 campaign, opened up to BasketNews about his role with the Greek team, being a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague rookie and joining school teammates Scottie Wilbekin and Shane Larkin at the highest level of European basketball.

Kendrick Perry

Kendrick  Perry
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Position: PG
Age: 28
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Birth place: United States of America

For Kendrick Perry, basketball has been his compass, a solid point of reference. The undersized (1.83 m) guard from Florida showed his first credentials before even entering adulthood. From Edgewater High School, he moved to Ohio and became a member of Youngstown State. It was not long before he became the benchmark and took on the leading role. Allen Iverson was his inspiration, and Perry did his best to fulfill the dreams and expectations he created for himself. 

After a full four years (2010-2014) in college and a fruitless NBA Draft eligibility, Perry would not give up on his goal and participated with the Orlando Magic in the Summer League, next to Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo. When the tournament ended, Perry's basketball odyssey took off, passing through Australia, the NBA Development League, Hungary, Northern Macedonia, Nizhny Novgorod, and the Basketball Champions League, the Adriatic League and Mega Bemax, KK Cedevita Olimpija, and the EuroCup, up to Panathinaikos and the EuroLeague.

The American combo guard, only three months before officially turning 29, has definitely grown accustomed to making the best out of every opportunity that came his way. Coming off a brilliant season at the individual level with 16.1 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds in the EuroCup, Perry did his best to make sure that Panathinaikos would be hard as nails, as the lights around him shine brighter than ever.

His connection with EuroLeague stars Scottie Wilbekin and Shane Larkin goes well beyond basketball. "We played for the Orlando team, we were very young, like 11 and 12 years old. Shane Larkin and I are from the same city, Scottie is from the same state and joined us a little later," Perry recalled in an interview. Now, he has the chance to meet them again on the court, one of the challenges that he will have to deal with in the course of the coming season.

Here is what Kendrick Perry told BasketNews during Panathinaikos's EuroLeague Media day:

What is there to make of the team's performances in the pre-season games?

It's a process. We've shown flashes that we can be really good. It's a matter of us trying to put in a consistent effort. If you have a fairly new group like this, it's about building chemistry and habits. The pre-season is about doing a continuous effort to work and build those habits.

To what extent can Panathinaikos play better basketball and level up their game?

Defensively, we can always be sharper. Offensively, we're still learning the plays and how to play with each other. There is still room for improvement there.

Have you figured out what it takes to become a reliable point guard at the EuroLeague level?

Not yet because it's my first year in the EuroLeague and I haven't played an official game yet. But I know it comes with experience, which is the best teacher. Hopefully, I will have a long and successful EuroLeague career and I can learn as much as I can on the way.

Credit LIGA NOVA KBM


This Panathinaikos team features quite a few EuroLeague rookies (Okaro White, Daryl Macon, Jehyve Floyd), including yourself. You've obviously have been watching and studying the league for years while playing in Europe. What's your take on it?

I think it's exciting. We got a group of guys who are hungry, with this being our first year in EuroLeague. We all want to do well individually and I think that's going to help us as a team.

You've gone all the way from Australia to Hungary, Northern Macedonia, and the FIBA Europe Cup to EuroCup and now you are set to make your debut on the big stage just three months before turning 29. Do you feel it's like a reward for all the work you've put in and the sacrifices you've made?

Yes, I think you hit it on the head. I think that's a testament to me staying true to the grind and to the work I've put in. I feel extremely blessed and thankful that I am now in a position to show my talents at the highest level in Europe.

Which of the sacrifices you've made has been the most important?

Obviously, when you think of Americans being overseas, the biggest one is being away from family, right? But it's a lot of other stuff too. I've had a lot of injuries in my career and opportunities that might have slipped by. It's just about embracing everything and trying to continue to move forward.

If Allen Iverson is your favorite American player, whose footsteps would you like to follow in Europe?

There's a lot of guys, not just guards. I think of Scottie Wilbekin, one of my close friends; Mike James, Shane Larkin, looking at the success that he's had. You can also look at someone like Kyle Hines. I think that's the biggest one for me personally, seeing all the success he's had at the highest level and for a long period of time. Those are some of those guys that I try to pick up and learn from.

You have referred to your relationship with your school teammates Scottie Wilbekin and Shane Larkin. How does it feel now that you're finally going up against them? Must be a surreal feeling.

Yes, it's really surreal! If you ask me at nine or ten years old if all three of us were going to be at this level, I would probably say that you were lying. It's a credit to those guys and all the work that they've put in.

Do you keep in touch?

Absolutely. We always keep in touch. I was hanging out with Scottie this last summer. We were working out together a little bit. With Shane, our families are really close. Upon learning about me and Panathinaikos, they wished me well because they know my journey. We all grew up playing with and against each other. So, to see us all on the same stage is a blessing.



Were you ever obsessed with the idea of playing in the NBA? I remember you saying that thinking about it could hurt yourself and your team. For the record, Facundo Campazzo had made similar statements about having overcome his obsession with the league and a couple of years later he went there.

I wouldn't say I was obsessed with it. Of course, it's a goal growing up and playing basketball in the States, but after a while, I just wanted to make sure that whatever situation I was in, I was happy, able to contribute and make an impact. I've been able to do that overseas. If it's bound to happen, it will. I'm going to continue to work, to do what I do, which has gotten me here so far. As long as I can keep it up, who knows what will come from it?

About three weeks ago, Mike Batiste visited the team's training sessions and had a word with you. He told us that he gave you some advice on adjusting to a new team and higher demands. Could you elaborate on that?

The biggest thing is just adjusting. When you're playing for a historic franchise like Panathinaikos, there can be some type of big pressure that comes with it. So, he was trying to educate me on how to navigate the city, lead these guys on and off the court and try to build good habits.

Show comments
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website