Tiwian Kendley has many fond memories of his time with Morgan State’s men’s basketball program. There was his 40-point, 10-rebound performance in an 85-82 double-overtime win over Manhattan on Dec. 7, 2016, which made him the fourth player in school history to hit the bar. of 40 points.
Kendley outdid himself with a stat line of 41 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 96-95 overtime loss to Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 19, 2018. Along with dropping 30 or more points seven times, he also recorded a comeback dunk when he took off from the wing in front of the Bears bench, grabbed a rebound in the air and netted it for two of his 26 points in a 78- 72 against Towson on November 15. , 2016.
But the only play that stood out for Kendley was a thunderous windmill dunk in a 61-47 win over Delaware State on Jan. 23, 2018, in which he only took off two step inside the free throw line before hammering the ball.
“I didn’t even know I was going to do it,” he said. “It just happened. I just walked away with my body. It just fell off, and I remember the crowd going, ‘Ohh!’ It was epic.
Kendley, 27, is trying to achieve more milestones, including making it to the NBA. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound short forward plans to return to the Wisconsin Herd, the MIlwaukee Bucks’ G League affiliate, for a second season.
Among Herd players who played at least 20 games last season, Kendley ranked fourth with 12.3 points per game and a 0.44 field goal percentage and added 3 rebounds and 2 assists. per game. Wisconsin coach Chaisson Allen said Kendley was a valuable contributor to the team.
“He can do a bit of everything,” said Allen, who has 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 without a ball. He was easy to use in our offensive system.
Kendley is still the fastest player in Morgan State history to score 1,000 points, amassing 1,032 in just 44 career games. That talent is one that former coach Todd Bozeman cites as Kendley’s path to the NBA.
“He’s very good with the ability to score,” Bozeman said. “He’s got a high drive, and I think any professional basketball player would tell you a high drive is up there in the top two. I’d say that’s No. 1 in terms of what you’re looking for. in guys. He can really score the ball and he can really defend. He would be a great two-way guy.
Kendley grew up in Harlem, New York, in 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 was going to pursue basketball or I was going to get caught up in the environment,” he said. “Basketball was ahead of me, but where I’m from, there’s a lot of other things there. I was one of those children who had the chance to get away from it.
After playing at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Kendley began her college career at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colorado. After scoring more 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 team.
Bozeman remembered Kendley as an energetic player who instantly earned the respect of his teammates.
“He made quite a few plays,” he said. “He was one of those guys where his teammates looked to him to score and lead them. He has that kind of magnetism.
Kendley attributed his success with the Bears to realizing he couldn’t squander the opportunity presented to him.
“I knew if I really wanted to make it work, this was my last chance,” he said. “Morgan State was my last chance, my last everything to make everything work and to make sure I wanted to do what I wanted to do. It was more me mentally suppressing a lot of things and focusing on basketball for two years.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from Morgan State in 2018 and going undrafted, Kendley signed with summer league team Washington Wizards and averaged 9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. On September 10, 2018, he agreed to a one-year minimum wage contract with the Wizards before being waived by them on October 14.
Kendley then joined the training camp roster of Washington’s G League affiliate Capital City Go-Go. Four months later, he was traded to the Windy City Bulls, the G League franchise of the Chicago Bulls.
After playing in Mexico in 2020 and Kosovo in 2021, Kendley returned to the United States in October to play for the South Bay Lakers, the G League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. But he only played four games and averaged 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.3 assists. When he was released Jan. 31, he was home for a day before the Wisconsin Herd signed him.
Allen, who was an assistant coach for the Capital City Go-Go when Kendley was there, said he knows what he’s getting from Kendley.
“We needed him to play 25 minutes a night,” Allen said. “We needed to score, which he’s great for, and that allowed him to play freely 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 her time in Wisconsin rejuvenated her spirit.
“I felt good about myself instantly,” he said. “I went straight to my coach and said, ‘Even though y’all don’t keep me here, thank you. You guys made me feel that love for the game again. I had fun on both sides of the game. track, and that was the most important thing. And then it continued with the herd. I just kept playing, and in my head, I was back. I was having fun and that’s how it is. happened.
At 27, Kendley’s window may not be as wide as others. But Allen pointed out that Pablo Prigioni made his rookie debut with the New York Knicks in 2012, when he was 35.
“Everyone’s path is different,” he said. “I think for him he just needs to keep working and keep striving and taking every day to improve. As long as you do that and try to reach your full potential, the league will find you.
Kendley is trying to become just the second player in Morgan State history to play in the NBA. He would join Marvin “The Human Eraser” Webster, who played 10 seasons for the Denver Nuggets of the ABA and the SuperSonics and Seattle Knicks of the NBA. Kendley said he knew he had to prove he was as committed to playing defense as he was attacking.
“I know this is going to separate me and bring me in,” he said. “Once I walk through the door, my hard work will show that I belong here. I don’t want to receive anything. I want to work for this. I’m going to deserve it and I’m going to thank everyone after I do this.