Peachtree Hoops got the opportunity to speak with one of Georgia's finest in high school basketball, the McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick from Wheeler High School.
Having never watched the young man play, save for some You Tube clips, and having never spoken to Jelan, we were interested in asking some questions about his decision of colleges, the path to being a McDonald's All-American and the surrounding press and accolades that come with that. Kendrick also answered questions about who folks say his game is most like and which of the Hawks' stars' skills he would most like to have.
We thank the Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association for inviting us in to talk to Kendrick, who we found to be a remarkable young man, well on his way to a successful career.
Talk about this process of being a McDonald’s All-American:
Great experience—a lot of work put into this, trying to get to this level, that a lot of people said I couldn’t get to. Once I accomplished this, it’s like a relief, but I can’t sit. There is a lot of places I want to get to. To be the only player in Georgia selected to this game is just tremendous. I get to represent this state, a state and people I love so much, in this game.
Did any of the Georgia teams recruit you? What led you to the Memphis Tigers?
Recruiting class coming in is incredible. Josh Pastner sold me on the dream on how we can prosper and make history and also the seniors that are already there. Definitely you have to throw in the fans in Memphis because they are definitely crazy about their basketball team and you gotta love the atmosphere. We want to make a big impact next year, get to the tournament, and win a national championship.
I got a lot of interest from Georgia and Georgia Tech, but it’s just different things to make you go different ways. I love both schools and their coaching staffs.
Talk about all the press and accolades you have received. Did you think four years ago this was going to happen?
Four years ago I was thinking I was trying to get into a D2 school. But I always thought if I worked hard I could get to a D1 school. I never thought it would get to being on the front of a lot of big magazines, such as SLAM! and CourtCred. It’s just an incredible blessing to have all this---and Iove it (laughing)—so keep the press coming.
Seriously, coming where I come from, people get the wrong press—I am just happy I can come in and be a good example for the kids and get the good press.
How would you describe your game—who were your basketball influences?
I’ve never really compared myself to anyone—some people compare me to Penny Hardaway, Jalen Rose, some say Scottie Pippen—I’ve heard a lot of things and those are great basketball players—I have a lot of work to do to get to that level. Hopefully in the future people will want to compare themselves to me.
My dad and brother, neighborhood---My Dad always played hard, taught me to never back down from anyone. He’s about 6’2, 230 then and he could play 1, 2, 5—he’d play the five on defense and the point guard on offense—so that’s where I got that point guard/forward thing.
Also Antoine Johnson, who went to Westlake High School (now a senior at Georgia Southern) he was just a great guard—he took me under his wing.
Any of the Hawks come to the games?
Maurice Evans came to the games—he kind of took me under his wings, too. I lost track of him when I lost my other phone—I really appreciated him coming to the games—he’s a great player and I hope to get back in touch with him again.
If there were no age limit, would you be considering the NBA?
I think a lot of kids would’ve looked at that. I believe everything happens for a reason because if there was no age limit, then a lot of things would have gone down different in your life. Who’s to say at this point—I’m just glad that I get to go to the University of Memphis and enjoy that for as many years as I can.
Do you watch the Hawks?
The Hawks are my favorite team!
Ok, If you can choose between Smoove’s athleticism, Jamal’s handles, Joe’s jumper, or Horford’s strength and passion, which would you love to have most?
You gotta go with Al Horford with that mix of strength and passion. When you have that strength and passion for the game, you put everything you have every time you step on the floor---and that’s something no team can take away from you.
The 2010 McDonald’s All American Games will tip-off in Columbus, Ohio at Value City Arena on March 31. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. The best part about the McDonald's All American Games is that proceeds benefit local Ronald McDonald House Charities Chapters. Proceeds from the 2010 Games will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, and all players will have an opportunity to visit the house during Game Week. To learn more about the McDonald’s All American Games, and see the full roster of 2010 players, please visit www.mcdonaldsallamerican.com.
The Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association is proud to support local high school basketball and the local community.
(All photos courtesy of the Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association)