IT’S what rival SEABL clubs have been dreading.
Jeremy Kendle is returning to Bendigo Braves a better man and a superior player.
The 2016 championship star and league MVP insists he is better for his recent NBL experience and a 2017 season spent in the New Zealand national league.
“Physically, mentally, spiritually and skilfully within the craft of basketball …. all those facets of the game have been sharpened,” was Kendle’s frank assessment on his growth as a player and person since he last stepped onto a court for the Braves in their 2016 SEANL national championship win.
“I have a greater understanding of people, of the game as a whole, how to be a leader and be a person of influence, build relationships, be sacrificial and walk with a little bit humility.”
All that will be music to the ears of coach Ben Harvey and Kendle’s Braves team-mates.
The former Bellarmine University standout, who has also played professionally in Morocco and Switzerland, averaged 27.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game in his previous year with the Braves.
A short stint with NBL side Brisbane Bullets, where he averaged 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in seven games, preceded a successful move to the New Zealand national league.
Kendle returned to the NBL last October with Sydney Kings as a replacement for the injured Kevin Lisch, but made way after six games for incoming imports Jerome Randle and Jeremy Tyler.
The 29-year-old described his NBL experience as eye-opening on and off the court, but was keen to dwell on the positives.
“I felt this past stint with the Sydney Kings I was playing some great basketball … that said, signing a contract isn’t the same as having a chance sometimes,” he said.
“I had a lot of great relationships, meet a lot of great people and got to play basketball in one of the finest cities in the world, so it was cool.”
Kendle admitted to keeping close tabs on the Braves during his year away, as he continues to so with all his former professional and college teams.
Like everyone, he was disappointed with how 2017 panned-out, but was confident the proud club could rebound quickly and again be a finals contender.
“We made such an impact in 2016, that group was tremendous on and off the court,” Kendle said.
“Hopefully this team can do as much as that team did.
“Not just from a win-loss standpoint, but the one-on-one relationships, the coaching clinics and things we need to do in the community.”