Kendrick in the Clutch
Jan. 27, 2005
By Chris Purser,
It's often said that you can't judge a book by its cover. The same can be said about names. Just ask the man known to Ole Miss basketball players and fans alike simply as "Squirt".
At 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, Kendrick Fox can hardly be described as little, yet the nickname "Squirt" has stuck with him for most of his life. But don't let the name fool you. Fox has definitely helped lead the Rebels to big things.
"It started when I was young," said the Oxford native. "My aunt just started calling me 'Squirt' when I was two or three years old, and the name just stuck. I was a little small until I hit my growth spurt in the eighth grade and grew four inches over the summer."
The nickname is not the only thing Fox's aunt has given him over the years. When he was a child, it was his aunt who first taught him how to shoot a basketball.
"My aunt taught me to shoot the way she learned how to shoot, which was from behind the head," Fox said. "Later, my father taught me how to shoot normally. So I just decided to combine the two and make the best of both worlds."
That combination has made "Squirt" one of the Rebels' best clutch shooters. Fox boasts a career three-point percentage of 38.8 and has shot a remarkable 43.3 percent this season, tops on the team.
That ability to make the tough shot with consistent results has earned Fox the respect of his teammates, who voted him one of three team captains this season. It has also provided plenty of dramatic moments over the years.
Last season, he nailed the game-winning trey at Evansville with four seconds left. It was one of a career-high five three-pointers and 17 points. Fox also hit the go-ahead three against Southeastern Louisiana with 28 seconds left to propel Ole Miss to victory. On the road against nationally-ranked Kentucky a year ago, he came off the bench to knock down 4-of-5 from the behind the arc, and hit some key shots to pull Ole Miss within three points with 5:27 remaining.
But while a lot of players would get goose bumps heading onto the court at Rupp Arena, Fox is not the type to let the pressure get to him.
"I never really try to force anything," Fox said. "If it goes in, it goes in. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I can't really control that."
That kind of attitude originated at Lafayette High School. As a senior, Fox averaged 15.2 points and 7.4 boards a game, all while playing with a torn ACL. Fox credits that sort of fortitude to his support group.
"My ninth grade coach really got me interested in playing ball," Fox said. "I have to give all the credit to him. He is the one that rode me and got me interested in going to all the camps my junior year. If not for him, I'd probably be playing in junior college or somewhere else."
While Fox has amazed Rebel fans ever since he was a freshman, Ole Miss was not the only choice for "Squirt". Richmond, Rice and Old Dominion all showed interest in Fox during his prep career. While the adventure of seeing other places may lead some to look outside their hometown, he placed his family ahead of other factors. The decision to stay or go weighed heavily for Fox and his family.
"It was really tough," said Fox. "On one hand, I had my mom telling me to not stay in Oxford, but to get out and explore areas outside of here. On the other hand, I had my grandmother wanting me to stay and play ball here at Ole Miss. My grandmother was one of my biggest supporters, so I decided to stay here."
It has been a decision "Squirt" has never regretted. While his grandmother has since passed away, the opportunity to see him play in college is one that he will never forget. Fox continues to play with the passion knowing that his "new" family has his back everywhere he goes.
"I love it here at Ole Miss," Fox said. "The guys I came in with are like brothers. Justin Johnson, Chris Rhodes, and Cavadas Nunnery are family to me. It's good to play in front of the people I grew up with too. To look up and see those people in the stands is special."
This is "Squirt's" final season as a player for Ole Miss, and he hopes to make it one that will be familiar to all Ole Miss fans.
"We want to get back to the NCAA Tournament," he said. "We are looking to have that winning season. That's what I want to be remembered for, for helping put Ole Miss back on top.
"That, and maybe my shot, I guess."
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