PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LEVON KENDALL
Earlier this summer, we had a small article on players that are at a crossroads for their careers, we called it "now or never" and Levon Kendall of Pittsburgh was one of those players.
For the last two season, Kendall has been buried behind Chevon Troutman and Mark McCarroll at the power forward position on the Pitt depth chart. With both of them being seniors and graduating last season, it is now (finally) Kendall's turn to step into a starting role at Pittsburgh. However, with incoming players such as Doyle Hudson, Tyrell Biggs and Sam Young, and a soft verbal from 2007 stud Herb Pope, Kendall will have much competition for the spot if he does not hit the ground running and seize his long awaited opportunity.
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Last season, Kendall seemed to show some of his frustration in his playing time in an article for the Canadian Basketball website HoopLife.CA (Kendall Plays Waiting Game). At about the time the article was published, Kendall's fortunes for playing time changed and he found himself on the floor and in a starting role for the Panthers. Initially, he gave Pitt quite a lift with his play. Despite playing out of position on the wing, Kendall did display a nose for the ball and gave the team some good minutes, especially on the defensive end, where he showed his versatility in being able to defend on the wing. However, as the season wore on, his playing time again began to slowly decrease, leaving many to wonder about his future role with the Panthers.
One thing about Kendall, is he is a different sort (Pitt's Renaissance Man) and has many varied interests. So, at times, maybe basketball has not been his number one priority. The Canadian Head National Team coach, former Syraucuse Orange star and NBA player, Leo Rautins has publicly said Kendall haas the ability to play in the NBA, he just needs to dedicate himself to being more aggressive and showing that he wants it. Over the summer, Kendall showed that promise by leading Canada to their first international medal in a sanctioned FIBA basketball event in decades with their bronze medal in the U-21 World Championships. For Kendall's play, he was honred as a member of the all-tournament team, despite battling a sore knee. His 40-pt performance against team USA (Kendall Leads Canada to Upset over USA) got the college basketball world talking. Kendall also played with the Canada senior men's team at the end of the summer and was one of the yongest players in the Olympic qualifying tournament.
Kendall now heads into his junior season for coach Jamie Dixon and the Pitt Panthers and his time is now to step up. Recently, CollegeHoopsNet rated him among the top Canadian players playing college basketball in the United States (Canada's Best. The potential seems to be there for Kendall, a very skilled 6'10 F who has learned to play more physical just by competing against players like Chevon Troutman, Chris Taft and others in the Pitt program every day in practice. Playing his natural position could also help Kendall relaize his potential this season. He is more athletic than most give him credit for, as evidenced last season by his ability to run the floor and block shots against Connecticut or finish with a dunk against Boston College. In his international experience, he has always been among tournament leaders in blocked shots and rebounds. Now, he looks to bring his experience and maturity to the forefront and help lead (Kendall Ready to Lead for Pitt) a young and inexperienced Panther backcourt.
This is a big year for Levon Kendall and he is definitely a player in the spotlight!