A Fresh Start

Decorated transfer Jelan Kendrick arrived at Ole Miss Sunday, minutes after his future team had tipped off with Southeastern Louisiana.

He sat behind the home bench, within earshot of his new head coach, Andy Kennedy. He was taking in his surroundings. This was his second chance; his new release on basketball.

"I look at it as a better opportunity," he said in the bowels of Tad Smith Coliseum at halftime. "Everything in life happens for a reason. I think I got out of bed for a reason. I think I'm here at Ole Miss for a reason."

He sought the advice of his mother and father during the process, who Kendrick said had little to do with his decision to sign with Memphis in the recruiting class of 2010.

"My mother and my father told me to just take my time and make a good decision and make sure it's the best one for you," Kendrick said. "I think I kind of rushed into my last decision, so I made sure my mother and my father helped me a little bit more than they did during my first decision. I think this is the best decision for me. I'm just going to take advantage of it."

Kendrick's departure from Memphis has been well-documented. In a meeting with Memphis head coach Josh Pastner in November, the decision was made for the former McDonald's All-American to leave the program.

But when asked of his exit from Memphis, Kendrick declined to answer. He's ready to move on. Kendrick has yet to play a minute of college basketball. He's eager to prove himself.

Jelan Kendrick

"I just look at everything as a learning experience," Kendrick said.

"Just continue to move forward and grow into a better man and continue to prosper in the education field and on the basketball court."

Kendrick is expected to begin practicing with the team Monday. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he won't be allowed to play his first game until the conclusion of the 2011 Fall semester.

Kendrick is a former five-star recruit out of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., where he was regarded as the 20th-best prospect in the nation by Scout.com.

"I felt like this decision was a lot more important for me than my first," Kendrick said. "I just had to find a situation where it was the best fit for me. (Ole Miss) wasn't too far from home and Coach AK is someone I felt like I could trust. I could trust him from the day I met him."

Kendrick said his final schools were Ole Miss and West Virginia. He also showed interest in, among others, Georgia Tech and Kansas. His relationship with Kennedy who, ironically, began his coaching career under Bob Huggins, played into Ole Miss' favor.

"It was a hard decision at the end of the day between him and Bob Huggins," he said. "AK is a younger person, who is very driven. He's been through a lot of the same situations as me, transferring to UAB, kind of taking advantage of a transfer.

"I would like some of the same things for me here, starting somewhere new. Just somewhere where I can prosper and hopefully help take the program to a level that it hasn't been before."

Kendrick is the first McDonald's All-American in program history.

When he announced his intentions to transfer to Ole Miss late last week, Kennedy called the addition of Kendrick "the perfect storm." Ole Miss, according to Kennedy, has a scholarship open. It also graduates senior guards Chris Warren and Zach Graham following the 2010-11 season.

"I'm just glad I get a semester with them being here, so I can learn from the things they've done," Kendrick said. "They've accomplished so much here at the university. I just want to kind of be up under their wing for a year. Hopefully I can step in next year as a leader and take this team, like I said, somewhere they haven't been before."

Kendrick, arriving as the one of the more highly-regarded prospects in school history, said he doesn't feel any added pressure.

"I don't feel like there's going to be a lot on my shoulders, cause I have a good nucleus which is the coaches and the family here," he said. "There's no pressure on me, because I have brothers that's going to be on the team with me that's going to help me. We can, hopefully, bring this school greatness.

"Everybody wants to win championships. I want to accomplish the same things. It's just hard work and determination. We have guys here that work hard. Hopefully I can be the missing piece to help this team reach levels it hasn't reached before."


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