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Basketball Career “Far Over” As Lewis Leaves ISU Legacy

Written by on April 12, 2024

Image courtesy of Illinois State Athletics

NORMAL, Ill. – In the spring of 2021, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Snellville, Georgia, decided to transfer away from Appalachian State. He left the mountains of Boone, North Carolina, for Normal, Illinois.

Kendall Lewis spent three seasons at Illinois State University, leaving a lasting legacy in CEFCU Arena and the city of Bloomington-Normal.

During his three seasons at ISU, Lewis averaged 9.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He witnessed both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with the Redbirds. Lewis was a starter for the 2021-22 team that went 13-20 and saw head coach Dan Muller get fired after ten seasons. Despite the change, Lewis remained with the team for two more seasons and helped them earn their first win against a ranked opponent since 2016.

Throughout the roller coaster of ups and downs during his ISU career, Lewis wouldn’t change a single piece of the story.

“There’s a lot that could have gone differently,” Lewis said. “There are a lot of things I could say I wished would have happened. But no, I don’t wish anything would’ve changed because I wouldn’t have been able to have the opportunities I have now. I might’ve been able to go do other things, but you can always wish for better. So, I’m happy with how things turned out and how we handled things. Everything happens for a reason.”

The pinnacle of Lewis’ career took place on Feb. 13, 2024, when the Redbirds traveled to the Hulman Center to take on the Indiana State Sycamores. The Sycamores came into this game ranked in the AP National Rankings for the first time since 1979, and the Redbirds hadn’t won a ranked game since 2016.

Six points, 13 rebounds, and 40 minutes of game-time action later, Lewis and his teammates upset the Sycamores on their own home court. This moment was Lewis’ favorite memory while wearing the colors of red and white.

“Just because of the energy it took and how random of a time it was for us to beat that team; no one expected it,” said Lewis. “It was one of those stories you can take home with your kids.”

This game against Indiana State epitomized what you got from Lewis throughout his three years as a Redbird. He was a leader who gave his all on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. This is how Lewis believes his ISU career will be remembered.

“A tenacious rebounder, an energy guy, and a high motor,” Lewis said when asked about how he would be remembered. “Being the captain, being a voice, and just making sure everybody’s ready to go out there.”

To go along with that, Lewis elaborated on how he was a leader to his teammates.

“I try to remember to go, remember the game plan, and not let us stray too far from it,” Lewis said. “Always remember it’s still just a sport and we can still have fun in it.”

The highlights of Lewis will be remembered. The cameras would never miss an opportunity to catch a tenacious dunk or a hustle play. However, the cameras didn’t capture some of Lewis’ favorite moments that came off the court.

Every year, the Redbirds’ basketball team would take part in a summer camp hosted by Coach Pedon. More kids would come every season, bringing enjoyment to Lewis. The moments on the court were enjoyable for him, but he hopes that Bloomington-Normal can remember him for his impact on the community off the court.

“I like being out in communities,” Lewis said. “The camps we were doing with the kids in the community, that’s the part I really want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered for how I impacted the community and how the kids remember me; if they even remember me at all. A kid that I will always remember is Brady. I’ve seen him for three years and I don’t think he’s grown one inch. That’s my guy, and I have pictures of him all over my place.”

Lewis has left an impact on the campus of Illinois State. Despite his career coming to an end at ISU, this is not the end of Lewis’ basketball career.

“I’m currently searching for an agent right now, and I’m just trying to continue my professional career,” Lewis said. “Basketball is far from over for me, I can tell you that.”