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Former Morgan State star Tiwian Kendley still holding NBA dream

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Tiwian Kendley has loads of memories of his time with the Morgan State men’s basketball program. There was his 40-point, 10-rebound performance in an 85-82 double additional time win against Manhattan on Dec. 7, 2016, that made him only the fourth player in class history to the touch the 40-point benchmark.

Kendley one-upped himself with a stat line of 41 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 96-95 additional time loss to Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 19, 2018. Along with dropping 30 points or more seven times, he also recorded a putback dunk when he took off from the wing in front of the Bears bench, grabbed a rebound in mid-air, and put it down for 2 of his 26 points in a 78-72 loss against Towson on Nov. 15, 2016.

However the one play that stood out to Kendley was a thunderous windmill dunk in a 61-47 victory over Delaware State on Jan. 23, 2018, through which he took off just two steps contained in the free-throw line before hammering home the ball.

“I didn’t even know I used to be going to do it,” he said. “It just happened. I just went with my body. It just went down, and I remember the gang going, ‘Ohh!’ That was epic.”

Kendley, 27, is trying to achieve more milestones — most notably attending to the NBA. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard-small forward is planning to return to the Wisconsin Herd, the MIlwaukee Bucks’ G League affiliate, for a second season.

Amongst Herd players who played a minimum of 20 games this past season, Kendley ranked fourth in scoring at 12.3 points per game and field-goal percentage at .44 and added 3 rebounds and a pair of assists per game. Wisconsin coach Chaisson Allen said Kendley was a priceless contributor to the team.

“He can do a bit little bit of every thing,” said Allen, who played overseas in Croatia, Greece, Israel, Poland and Turkey. “I can’t compare him to a player, but I just enjoyed having him because I could put him in a ball screen, I could play him off the ball. He was easy to make use of in our offensive system.”

Kendley continues to be the fastest player in Morgan State history to attain 1,000 points, amassing 1,032 in just 44 profession games. That talent is one which former coach Todd Bozeman cites as Kendley’s path to the NBA.

“He’s very gifted with the power to attain,” Bozeman said. “He has a high motor, and I feel any skilled basketball person would let you know that a high motor is up there in the highest two. I’d say it’s No. 1 when it comes to what you’re on the lookout for in guys. He can really rating the ball, and he can really defend. He could be a wonderful two-way guy.”

Kendley grew up in Harlem, Latest York, within the Abraham Lincoln projects. But when he was 15, his mother Jasmine Barnes moved him and his siblings to Greenbelt in Prince George’s County.

“I knew I used to be going to pursue basketball or I used to be going to get caught up within the environment,” he said. “Basketball was in front of me, but where I come from, there’s plenty of other things there. I used to be one among those kids that got a likelihood to get away from it.”

After playing at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Kendley began his college profession at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colorado. After scoring greater than 1,000 points in two years there, Kendley was recruited to Morgan State by Glenroy Palmer, his former AAU coach who was an assistant on Bozeman’s staff.

Bozeman remembered Kendley as a high-energy player who immediately earned the respect of his teammates.

“He made quite a couple of plays,” he said. “He was one among those guys where his teammates looked to him to attain and lead them. He has that sort of magnetism.”

Kendley credited his success with the Bears to the conclusion that he couldn’t waste the chance afforded him.

“I knew that if I actually desired to make it work, that was my last likelihood,” he said. “Morgan State was my last likelihood, my last every thing to make every thing work and to be sure that I desired to do what I desired to do. It was more me just mentally cutting plenty of stuff out and locking in on basketball for 2 years.”

After graduating from Morgan State in 2018 with a bachelor’s in communications and going undrafted, Kendley signed with the Washington Wizards’ summer league team and averaged 9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists and a pair of steals. On Sept. 10, 2018, he agreed to a one-year, minimum-salary take care of the Wizards before getting waived by them on Oct. 14.

Kendley then joined the training camp roster for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate. 4 months later, he was traded to the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls’ G League franchise.

After playing in Mexico in 2020 and Kosovo in 2021, Kendley returned to america in October to play for the South Bay Lakers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ G League affiliate. But he appeared in just 4 games and averaged 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.3 assists. When he was released on Jan. 31, he was home for at some point before the Wisconsin Herd signed him.

Allen, who was an assistant coach for the Capital City Go-Go when Kendley was there, said he knew what he was getting from Kendley.

“We wanted him to play 25 minutes per night,” Allen said. “We wanted scoring, which is something that he’s tremendous at, and that allowed him to only play free and play his game.”

In nine games with the Herd in February, Kendley averaged 14.6 points, including a 30-point outburst in a 105-100 loss to the Westchester Knicks on Feb. 26. Kendley said his time in Wisconsin rejuvenated his spirit.

“I felt great about myself immediately,” he said. “I went straight to my coach and told him, ‘Even if you happen to all don’t keep me here, thanks. You made me feel that love for the sport again.’ I rejoiced on each ends of the ground, and that was an important thing. After which it just kept going with the Herd. I just kept performing, and in my mind, I used to be back. I used to be having fun, and that’s the way it went.”

At 27, Kendley’s window is probably not as wide as others’. But Allen identified that Pablo Prigioni made his rookie debut with the Latest York Knicks in 2012 when he was 35 years old.

“Everybody’s path is different,” he said. “I feel for him, he just needs to maintain working and keep striving and take every day to get well. So long as you’re doing that and trying to achieve your full potential, the league will find you.”

Kendley is attempting to change into only the second player in Morgan State history to play within the NBA. He would join Marvin “The Human Eraser” Webster, who played 10 seasons for the ABA’s Denver Nuggets and the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics and Knicks. Kendley said he knows that he has to prove that he’s as determined to play defense as he’s to get on offense.

“I do know that’s going to separate me and get me within the door,” he said. “Once I get within the door, my labor goes to indicate that I belong here. I don’t wish to be given anything. I need to work for it. I’m going to earn it, and I’m going to thank everyone after I do this.”

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