American Jeremy Kendle has some advice for players, coaches, scouts and general managers looking to attend the NBL Combine later this month.
Kendle, who averaged 11 points per game for the Brisbane Bullets across the final seven games of last season – including a terrific 24-point display against Cairns in Round 17 – participated in the Combine last year.
Having benefited from the exposure he gained at the event, Kendle believes the future of the Combine is bright.
“It can really be a special opportunity for the clubs and the players,” Kendle told NBL Media.
“If they do it right and they invest in it, it can definitely give some people the exposure that they need. I needed it.”
The 186cm guard also offered some advice to the team representatives attending the Combine, hoping to identify talent.
“I would advise the coaches going there to have an open mind about it,” Kendle said.
“There are guys out there who can really play in these state leagues. I’m talking both imports and Aussies.”
Kendle strolled into last year’s Combine already surrounded by significant buzz. In 2015 he had earned Queensland Basketball League MVP honours and at the time of the Combine he was in the midst of a dominant SEABL season with Bendigo. In his one year with the Braves, Kendle led the SEABL in scoring, was named both league MVP and Grand Final MVP and led Bendigo to the championship, their third in club history.
Nonetheless, Kendle believes the opportunity for coaches to actually see him in person at the Combine – rather than just assessing his game via box scores and video – was invaluable.
“One thing that is a positive about my game and personality and character is that when people see me play in person they see how I communicate with my teammates and do all the intangible things,” Kendle said.
“The small things that go unnoticed on film and definitely don’t show up on the stats sheet, that’s what I present to them.
“Ultimately the value system is basically what coaches are recruiting off. What does he bring to the table? How is he going to make my team better?
“There are a lot of different things guys can bring to the table. It’s not just scoring, it’s not just rebounding, it’s not just getting assists on the stats side of it. There’s also character, personality, leadership, work ethic, faith and how you handle different situations.
“There are a lot of things a coach can learn about a player seeing him in person versus watching film or looking at the stats sheet.”
Currently tearing up the New Zealand NBL, Kendle is averaging 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists with the third-placed Canterbury Rams. Only Corey Webster (Wellington) and Mitch McCarron (Supercity) are scoring more, while only Jarrod Kenny and Shea Ili are throwing more dimes.
He hopes to parlay his excellent New Zealand form into another opportunity in the NBL next season.
One thing he knows for sure, it’s not always just about the basketball.
“You find out as you get older, maybe it’s not so much about how good you are, or how talented you are, or athletic you are, sometimes it’s who you know and who you connect with,” Kendle said.
“Connecting with people in life is always a great thing, in whatever craft it is that you’re trying to excel at, whether that’s sport or trying to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, whatever. Connecting with people who are higher up and know more is always a good thing.”
“Also connecting with other players. You never know who, down the road, can help you or you can help. So that was definitely a great experience (at last year’s Combine), connecting with people in the basketball world.”
This year’s event will be the second instalment of the Combine and the first run and operated by the NBL after obtaining the rights from W Sports and Media (who will continue to co-manage the event in conjunction with the NBL).
And with the reforms made to the player contract and salary rules last year (expanding team lists from 10 to 11 players, enabling teams to sign up to three restricted players and providing greater prospects for development players) increasing opportunities at the NBL level, interest in the Combine continues to grow.
Kendle’s advice to those considering registering?
“Just do it,” he said.
“If you are prepared and confident… if you’re ready for something and you feel like you just need an opportunity, it’s just a couple of hundred bucks. You can always make more money. I mean, you can’t take it with you when you’re gone anyway.
“So if you can spend a couple of hundred bucks to invest in your career and even if you don’t get a contract right off the bat, you’re connecting with people in the basketball world and you never know how that is going to benefit you in the long run.
“My advice would be: just take that leap of faith and just go. Don’t even hesitate, go in there with an open mind, work hard, have a good attitude and be you.
“At the end of the day when you take leaps of faith like that I think that God rewards you. It may not be how you expect to be rewarded but you will be rewarded for your faith.
“I’m kind of a living testament to that with buying my own ticket to come out to Brisbane – without a contract – and trying out and them keeping me, despite tearing my calf the second day of training.
“Just take that leap of faith and just trust yourself and your ability as a basketball player.”
The exposure, he says, is worth it.
“Any time you can get in front of coaches man, it doesn’t matter what setting it is, or doesn’t matter where it is, or how much money you pay, it is a good thing, especially if you don’t have a contract,” Kendle said.
“So just go do it.”
Participants can register to be a part of the 2017 NBL Combine at nbl.com.au/combine
Written for NBL.com.au by Liam Santamaria