Former Penguin Perry chases pro dream

YOUNGSTOWN — Kendrick Perry looked at this thing on top of his steak.

He knew Hungary embraced some American food like chicken and steak, but the unorthodox food on top of his plate was something new.

Perry, a former Youngstown State University men’s basketball standout, took a piece off and tried it separately, even though it looked slimy.

He embraced the Hungarian culture since he played basketball in this country, so this would be no different.

The texture was like a mushroom, which doesn’t really appeal to the point guard.

“Whatever it was, it wasn’t that bad,” said Perry, a three-time, first-team Horizon League standout.

Neither is his basketball career. Perry signed his fourth professional contract earlier this week with Szolnoki Olajbanyasz in Hungary. This is his second time in Hungary, he played for Egis Kormend in the 2015-16 season.

The 6-foot Perry played for Karpos Sokoli last season in Macedonia, located north of Greece. His team won the Macedonian League Championship.

He began his professional career in the 2014-15 season with the Sydney Kings.

Perry has been a world traveler, having his passport littered with mark of different countries.

Like his college basketball career, he didn’t have time to see the sights — something he vows to do at a later date.

Perry has seen the good in people wherever he’s been. His professional career is no different.

That said, the former YSU standout feels blessed by his upbringing in Ocoee, Fla., and his experiences in Youngstown.

When he saw during his travels 12-year-olds begging for money and rummaging through dumpsters for essentials to live, it gave him pause.

“It’s a very humbling experience,” Perry said. “We tend to get caught up in our own problems and our own situations. We look at the grand scheme of things and it doesn’t really matter. Someone is always going to have it worse.

“For me, I was able to see it every day, if not every other day. I try to keep that humble attitude and remind myself. This one day or one moment might be rough, but I have to understand that someone might be going through something 10 times worse. I really don’t have it that bad.”

Perry still has that NBA dream alive, as long as the 24-year-old point guard is playing the game he loves.

He’s seen Oakland’s Kay Felder make the Cleveland Cavaliers roster and former Cleveland State player Bryn Forbes, who finished his collegiate career at Michigan State, do well in the NBA Summer League.

Perry played with the Iowa Energy, part of the NBA G League, in 2015. He hopes one day he’ll get that 10-day contract and get to prove himself in the NBA.

“At the end of the day, whether I’m overseas, in the G-League or eventually in the NBA, I play basketball for a living,” Perry said. “I can’t really complain. This is a dream I’ve had ever since I was a kid. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”