College Basketball Nation: Jelan Kendrick

3-point shot: Ole Miss shuffles lineup

January, 6, 2012
1. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said Jelan Kendrick will be expected to replace Dundrecous Nelson, even though there is a nearly 9-points-per-game average difference (11.6 to 2.7). Nelson was dismissed from the team Thursday after he was arrested and also failed multiple drug tests, according to a source. Kendrick has only played in three games since he became eligible from Memphis. Kennedy is hopeful that Murphy Holloway will be ready to go for Saturday's SEC opener against LSU after being injured the last two games. The Rebels couldn’t afford a disruption after losing three of the last four games heading into the SEC.

2. If the committee on infractions is going to start handing out more suspensions for coaches then there needs to be more uniformity on how the records are treated with wins and losses. Jim Calhoun won’t get credit for the wins because it was a COI suspension. But wins and losses during a suspension by a conference or school does go on the head coach’s record. They should be the same so there is no confusion.

3. The Pac-12 could have the most competitive race for the title of any other conference in the top dozen leagues. That’s great for close games. But it means that there are no givens on the road, as evidenced by Colorado and Utah winning at home. The selection committee will have an extremely tough time separating the teams in this league. Each team is judged individually and few if any will stand out.

Jelan Kendrick lands at Ole Miss

December, 30, 2010
The saga of Jelan Kendrick, Memphis recruit has ended. And so the saga of Jelan Kendrick, Ole Miss transfer begins.

Per Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, Kendrick signed paperwork to make his transfer out of Memphis and into Oxford, Miss. official this morning. The freshman also looked at West Virginia and Georgia Tech before settling on coach Andy Kennedy's program.

Theoretically, the transfer is big for Ole Miss. Kendrick was the No. 44-ranked player in the class of 2010, a skilled 6-foot-5 wing player with a well-rounded offensive game. His commitment bolstered what was already a star-studded 2010 class for Memphis coach Josh Pastner; that sort of talent can make an immediate impact at a flagging program like Ole Miss.

But "theoretically" is the operative word here. In reality, Kendrick's attitude issues, inability to get along with teammates, and frequent disagreements with his coaches make him far from a sure thing. Pastner gave Kendrick numerous chances to figure things out -- suspending him and then reinstating him in the preseason -- but the punishments had no effect. Eventually, Pastner dismissed the troubled freshman from the team before Kendrick ever played in a regular-season game.

Pastner and Kendrick stayed in contact after the dismissal, but any hints at a potential return were merely that. Instead, Kendrick will move on, starting from scratch next December with a new coach, a new program and -- hopefully for Kendrick, anyway -- a new outlook on what it means to be a teammate. We'll see.
The last we saw Memphis freshman Jelan Kendrick, the talented youngster was reportedly trying to sort through the issues -- temperament, teamwork, and so on -- that plagued him throughout his tumultuous high school career. It looked like things were going well. A few days later, not so much: Pastner booted his prized recruit from the team, sending a message about his program in the process.

Things are a little different for Tigers now. After injuries to Wesley Witherspoon and D.J. Stephens, and the defection of little-used forward Angel Garcia to the European professional ranks, Memphis has a mere nine scholarship players available for its next game. Would Pastner consider bringing Kendrick back. And did Kendrick's tweet on Monday -- "I'm heading back to memphis!!!" -- mean, well, exactly that?

Fortunately, Memphis Commercial-Appeal beat writer Jason Smith wasted no time asking Pastner to clarify the situation. Why would Kendrick tweet such a thing? Do not obfuscate, sir! The truth is out there, and we demand answers!
"He's coming back for exams," Pastner said. "He's gotta finish out Thursday."

Oh. Well. That makes sense. Sorry about all the shouting. Nevermind, then.

The story doesn't exactly end there. Pastner said he'd been having "pleasant talks" with Kendrick in the weeks since the two parted ways and, while those talks haven't discussed any sort of return, the coach wouldn't completely close the door on the Jelan Kendrick era.
"You never say never because I don't want to do that to the young man. I don't think that's fair. Like I said, he's coming back for exams," Pastner said. "Jelan and I have had many talks since we parted ways, and very pleasant talks, but nothing about him being on the team or anything like that. It's just been more about life. He's asked me for advice on where he should go to school. What type of coach do I think is best for him. Things like that. We've had many talks, but nothing like (a return) has been broached. We have not talked about it at all."

Those talks sound very pleasant, considering they're taking place between a player and coach whose working relationship was over before it ever really began. It's a strange scenario, a player still looking to his former coach -- one that kicked him off his first college team within weeks of his arrival -- for future advice. If they two get along well enough to trust each other on that front, why couldn't they make it work in practice?

I don't know, but in any case, there's your answer. No, Kendrick is not returning to Memphis. But never say never.

Jelan Kendrick confronts his issues

November, 10, 2010
It would be easy to dismiss Jelan Kendrick as just another malcontent. Kendrick, after all, has had issues throughout his high school and AAU playing days ranging from trouble with his teammates to trouble with his coaches. His transient AAU history, when he played for multiple high school and AAU teams, makes him seem impossible to please. His early troubles at Memphis -- constantly feuding with fellow players over seemingly minor affronts, being suspended by Josh Pastner and left behind on the Tigers' exhibition trip -- would just be par for the course.

Only it's not quite as easy to leave your college team as it is to leave an AAU outfit. When you pick a college, you're stuck with it for at least a year, and maybe longer; the rule that forces transfer to sit out a year is prohibitive at best and a non-starter at worst. Which is part of the reason why Kendrick seems to be figuring things out. From Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
After spending two weeks away from the team, Kendrick took a major and necessary step when he called everybody into the Tigers' locker room at the Finch Center following a practice last weekend.

In that meeting, according to several sources, Kendrick talked openly about struggling to control his anger. He explained the need to confront that issue for the first time in his life, the counseling he has been receiving and the help he'll need from teammates if he ever starts to veer off path. Most of all, he apologized.

For a player who spent all summer picking unnecessary fights and turning normal situations into aggressive confrontations, it was perhaps the first time he truly felt comfortable among his teammates.

"I feel like it took a lot of guts to do what Jelan did, and I respect him for that," senior forward Will Coleman said. "He let us know some things, personal issues, and it really helped us to understand him and help him through his struggles."

Wolken has written about Kendrick's history with anger problems before. It was a constant issue during his high school days, and while none of it seems particularly serious -- it's not like Kendrick has done anything illegal here -- it does seem like Kendrick, when he's angry, is a wholly unpleasant person to be around.

It's possible to be cynical about this story. Maybe Pastner is just desperate to get Kendrick, one of his top recruits, on the floor. Maybe Kendrick is one of those "I'm sorry, baby, I'll never do it again," types, the ones who get really good at apologizing because they practice so much.

But between the lines, this feels genuine. And if Kendrick's working on becoming a better person, and Pastner and the vast resources of the Memphis Tigers basketball program can help him do so, well, that's kind of what college basketball is all about, right?

Will Jelan Kendrick play for Memphis?

October, 27, 2010
It might be too early to ask that question. After all, Memphis freshman Jelan Kendrick is still just, you know, a freshman. There is plenty of time, both this season and in his upcoming Memphis career, for him to figure things out and make an impact on the floor. But it's safe to say that impact is not going to be felt immediately.

That became clear thanks to a report Tuesday by CBS' Gary Parrish. Parrish's report revealed that Kendrick had been indefinitely suspended by Memphis coach Josh Pastner for verbally threatening a teammate, according to multiple sources. Kendrick is still enrolled in school but is not practicing with the Tigers. Parrish also learned that Kendrick has reportedly been in "multiple altercations" with teammates, one of which led Pastner to leave Kendrick behind while the team took its preseason exhibition trip to the Bahamas. At the time, Pastner told the media that Kendrick had to return home to deal with a "personal issue."

Pastner was no more forthcoming when reached by news services Monday:
"It's a personal matter with him, and once that personal matter is resolved ... he will be back when that gets taken care of," Pastner said before practice. "It's just a matter of time. Whenever that personal matter gets taken care of."

Asked specifically about the report Kendrick had been suspended for fighting with teammates, Pastner dodged the question. The second-year coach said he wanted to stay consistent on what he called "the personal matter," a phrase he used five separate times when discussing Kendrick.

"I care for them as people, so right now it's a personal matter. Once that gets resolved, we'll go from there," Pastner said.

In case you guys didn't know, it's a personal matter. Just to clear that up.

Kendrick's former AAU coach told Parrish that other schools have already been calling him about a possible transfer at the end of the first semester, which is the sort of stand-up behavior you'd expect from college basketball coaches. Nice, guys. That behavior does raise an interesting question, though: If things are this bad with Kendrick already -- if he really can't get along with his teammates, to the point that he has to be suspended from practicing with them -- can a departure be all that far behind?

Too early to say. Given Kendrick's talent (he was the No. 11-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2010), you'd bet Pastner will fight hard to find a resolution and keep him on the team. Memphis has a bunch of talented incoming freshmen, sure, but Kendrick would have been a key player immediately. But if he's fighting teammates? Team building is a delicate balance between talent and character and, as of right now, it appears Kendrick is on the wrong side of that bargain.

Update: Kendrick has been vaguely discussing his suspension on Twitter. Apparently, the Memphis freshman is back in town, as he told followers he plans to see the Grizzlies-Hawks game at the FedEx Forum tonight. Yesterday, he wrote: "I will be in the fed ex forum in no time. I'm handling my bussiness growing into a man day by day that's what college is about& education." Fair enough.