COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Northland’s boys basketball team is coming off its first City League title in six years after beating the defending champs from Africentric 60-58.
The Vikings were led by freshman point guard King Kendrick, who scored 33 points and made eight assists. Now, he’s drawing praise as the next great player to come from central Ohio.
“I put work in the whole week, the whole season for this game,” Kendrick said. “I know I put in the work to be where I’m at right now, so I know I can do anything I put my mind to.”
On Saturday, Kendrick put his mind to scoring — 19 points in the first half and 14 in the second half, including two free throws with 3.6 seconds left.
“It’s really about winning the game. It’s really not about how many points I have, how many assists I have, how many rebounds I have,” Kendrick said. “I don’t really care about the stats part. I just care about winning the game.”
Northland coach Tihon Johnson did plenty of winning during his time as a standout player at East High School from 1998 to 2001, including a trip to the state semifinals his senior season. The second-year coach said he’s never seen anything like Kendrick.
“I’ve seen a lot of city championships and I’ve seen a lot of players come through. Jared Sullinger had a good city championship his freshman year, but I don’t think anybody else compares with [King],” Johnson said.
The Vikings won nine City League championships in 10 seasons from 2007 to 2016 with players like Sullinger, Seth Towns, and Trey Burke.
“Full circle moment: Trey Burke’s dad is the one who told me about King and I ended up seeing him in a middle school game,” Johnson said. “Immediately you could see that he had a feel for the game. You could see that it was different.”
Trey’s father, Benji, made the introduction between his son and King Kendrick. It didn’t take long for the two ballers to form a bond and begin training together this past summer. And just like Burke, Kendrick decided to play for Northland High School.
“It’s amazing cause the things he did in college, high school, what he’s doing in the NBA. I can talk to him, ask questions, all that, so it feels good to know Trey Burke,” Kendrick said.
From Burke to Kendrick, central Ohio hoops fans are seeing a torch being passed at Northland.
“Everybody that was here before was just proud of us winning the city, so it’s just amazing that we won,” Kendrick said. “Everybody doubted us to not win that city championship, so when we won it was just like ‘Wow we really did it.'”