Kelly grad eager to earn a chance with Redhawks

Friday, July 13, 2007
TRCC photo (Kendal Deason will be a walk-on at Southeast next season after spending the last two years at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff.)

Kendal Deason averaged 7.9 points as a 3-point expert at Three Rivers.

When is getting a scholarship to play basketball at Lyon College just not good enough?

When a player has the chance to play his home games at Division I Southeast Missouri State, just 20 minutes from his house.

That is what Kendal Deason has decided to do next year after two seasons at Three Rivers Community College. He will be a walk-on with the Redhawks' program this year.

"I liked the idea of playing close to home, and I just felt like SEMO was a good fit for me," Deason said.

Another reason Deason selected the Redhawks was because the school offered his desired physical education degree. Lyon College did not.

"I live like 20 minutes away from the school, so there will always be someone I care for in the stands cheering me on," Deason said. "That was important to me."

While Deason said his decision came down to Southeast and Lyon College, Williams Baptist and the University of Missouri-St. Louis also had some interest in the former Kelly standout.

Now, he has to show the coaching staff at Southeast that he belongs at the Division I level.

"They know what I can do," Deason said. "I just have to work hard and try to contribute to the team any way I can. I am not going to do anything special ... just work hard."

Working hard is what Deason had to do at Three Rivers under coach Gene Bess to earn playing time.

"TRCC is one of the toughest junior colleges to play at because you have to work hard to get on the court," Deason said. "That'll help me get ready for SEMO, and for any situation really."

Deason averaged 7.9 points and nearly 2.5 rebounds per game last year as he started in 19 games for the Raiders, who advanced to the national tournament after beating rival Mineral Area in a best-of-three Region XVI championship series. He led the Raiders in 3-pointers with 81 and also had the team-high in charges taken.

Perhaps his biggest game of the season came on the road against West Plains where he scored 16 points and made five second-half 3-pointers. He also went 6-for-8 on 3s and scored 20 points at home against Forest Park.

"It feels good to be able to get a chance to play at SEMO," Deason said. "It's what you dream about growing up. To further my career makes me feel blessed."

Deason is unsure how much playing time he'll earn during the 2007-08 season since the Redhawks return a lot of players from last season.

NCAA regulations prohibit Southeast coach Scott Edgar from talking about a player not on scholarship until the player attends classes.

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