Perry impressed with changes, offers advice

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer, recently visited campus and likes the direction of the program.

YOUNGSTOWN — Kendrick Perry knows the feeling most college graduates have when they revisit their alma mater after a couple of years.

He’s been on and off the campus since graduating in 2014 and pursuing his professional basketball career.

The changes around campus with a new bookstore, dorms and other improvements around Youngstown have impressed the Florida native.

Things around his old stomping ground of the Beeghly Center were different, with a new weight room among other things.

Yes, you see those other things like your favorite chain fast-food place on campus. All you can do is sigh.

“I think it was the year after I left, they got Chick-fil-A on campus,” Perry said. “I was like, ‘They would put that in the year after I leave.’ “

The three-time first-team Horizon League point guard (2012-14) has embraced his basketball roots.

Things have changed there as well with Jerrod Calhoun and his staff taking over for the retired Jerry Slocum, who coached Perry at YSU.

Calhoun brings an up-tempo style to Youngstown on offense and defense. Perry, who recently signed with Szolnoki Olajbanyasz in Hungary, said he’s used to playing an intense defensive style overseas.

He’s seen some YSU practices and appreciates the intensity the players exude on the floor. Perry said it reminds him of the fervor his teams showed while he was at YSU.

“I like what coach Calhoun and his staff are doing,” Perry said. “I think they’re definitely going to be heading in the right direction.”

How about if we look back right now. Even though some people like to play the “what if” game, it’s impossible to go back in time. Indulge me. What if the former YSU point guard played with Penguins top scorer and senior shooting guard Cameron Morse in the backcourt? Morse was a freshman in the 2014-15 season — a season after Perry left the YSU campus.

“It would’ve been fun to see, but it’s just as fun to watch him do his own thing now,” Perry said.

Perry, who is YSU’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer, comes back to campus and feels like the big brother, watching his former team mature and grow into their own.

He remembers the success he had in a Penguins uniform.

Now he’s seeing Morse, Francisco Santiago and Ryan Strollo guiding the program as the seniors, something he did a couple of years ago.

The 24-year-old Ocoee, Fla., native remembers former Penguin guard Ashen Ward, who now coaches at Pepper Pike Orange High School, as YSU’s leader before him.

Teammates like DJ Cole, Larry Johnson Jr., Ward, among others, keep in touch with Perry.

That’s something the former YSU guard wanted to convey to these current players — these teammates can be your lifelong friends as well.

He’s seen how this YSU program swarms to help out a teammate who falls during practice and helps him up. Perry joked and thought at first a fight was going to break out.

He’s seeing firsthand how this team has bonded, something he remembers during his playing days — days which went quickly for the talented point guard.

“That a test of how close we were, not just off the court, but on the court as well,” Perry said.